The Holidays We Celebrate
Among the most ethnically diverse townships in the state and country, Niles Township further distinguishes itself by celebrating that diversity and creating a respectful and welcoming home to all.
Many Niles Township residents come from places all over the world, bringing with them rich traditions and celebrating holidays of great importance to them. We celebrate along with our neighbors, sharing the meaning of holidays observed in Niles Township.
What Is Day Of the Dead?
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween as sometimes believed although there is a connection.
The two annual events differ in traditions and tone. Halloween represents a dark night of terror and mischief while Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy despite the theme of death. Day Of the Dead demonstrates love and respect for deceased family members.
In towns and cities throughout Mexico, celebrants wear distinct makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.
Its roots date back thousands of years, long before Spanish settlers arrived. It has become a blend of Catholic tradition and Mexican mysticism, commemorating death as another element of life and as a way to remember and honor loved ones.
The holiday is celebrated in contemporary Mexico and among those of Mexican heritage in the United States and around the world. It may have started some 3,000 years ago, dating back to the rituals honoring the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
What Is All Saints Day?
Many Roman Catholics and other Christians around the world honor all saints of the church deemed to have attained heaven on All Saints Day Nov. 1. The date has changed over time. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, All Saints Day is observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost in November.
The current date of Nov. 1 was established by Pope Gregory III during his reign (731-741 AD) when he dedicated a chapel in Rome's St. Peter's Basilica in honor of all saints. Pope Gregory IV in 837 ordered the official observance of All Saints Day every Nov. 1 and extended its celebration to the entire Church.
All Saints' Day recognizes those whose sainthood is known only to God. Even so, Catholic observances tend to focus on known saints, those canonized by the Catholic Church. Within the Catholic Church, All Saints' Day is generally considered a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics must attend Mass unless they are prevented by illness or another sufficient excuse.
Although not a public holiday in the United States, All Saints' Day is observed publicly in many countries. In France and Germany, people have the work day off and businesses are closed. In the Philippines, All Saints Day is known as "Undas" and also honors and pays respect to departed loved ones, usually with prayers, flowers, and good offerings.
What Is All Souls’ Day?
All Souls’ Day in Roman Catholicism commemorates all the faithful departed, those baptized Christians who are believed to be in purgatory because they died with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls.
The day is observed annually on Nov. 2. Roman Catholic doctrine holds that the prayers of the faithful on earth will help cleanse these souls in order to fit them for the vision of God in heaven, and the day is dedicated to prayer and remembrance. Requiem masses are commonly held, and many people visit and sometimes decorate the graves of loved ones.
From antiquity, certain days were devoted to intercession for particular groups of the dead. The formation of a day for a general intercession on Nov. 2 is due to Odilo, abbot of Cluny (died 1048).
The date, which became practically universal before the end of the 13th century, was chosen to follow All Saints Day. Having celebrated the feast of all the members of the church who are believed to be in heaven, the church on earth turns, on the very next day, to commemorate those souls believed to be suffering in purgatory.
Priests celebrate mass on All Souls’ Day wearing vestments of varying color—black (for mourning), violet (symbolizing penance), or white (symbolizing the hope of resurrection).
What Is International Day Against Fascism and Antisemitism?
International Day Against Fascism and Antisemitism is marked annually on Nov. 9, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the first step towards the extermination of the Jewish Europeans by the nazis.
SA Storm Troopers and civilians destroyed more than 8000 Jewish homes and shops, set synagogues on fire, imprisoned, injured and killed Jews all across the country. Pieces of broken windows covering the streets in many German cities gave rise to the name ‘Kristallnacht’ which freely translated means the Night of Broken Glass.
Since the early 1990s, the agency UNITED has coordinated and inspired annual pan-European antifascist activities to mark Nov. 9 the International Day Against Fascism and Antisemitism.
The aim is to commemorate the victims of the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938 and, more broadly, victims of the Holocaust and of fascism throughout history. Further, the goal is to raise awareness about the dangers of nationalism, racism, antisemitism and neofascism today. The idea is to mobilize different groups and individuals to build a UNITED front against hate ideologies and violence.
What Is Veterans Day?
Veterans Day, observed annually Nov. 11, honors men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. The date was chosen because it falls on the anniversary of the end of World War I.
Originally celebrated as Armistice Day, Veterans Day was first recognized on Nov. 11, 1919, by President Woodrow Wilson a year after the end of World War I. The purpose of Armistice Day was to honor the fallen soldiers of the Great War for their sacrifice and bravery. Fifteen years later, Congress adopted a resolution requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations on Nov. 11, making Armistice Day a legal holiday.
In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks recommended expanding Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans rather than just those who died in World War I. He organized the first Veterans Day celebration in 1945 in Alabama and every one until he died in 1985. In 1982, he was honored by President Reagan with the Presidential Citizenship Medal. Weeks was also named the ‘Father of Veterans Day’ by Elizabeth Dole.
In 1954, Eisenhower signed a bill formally recognizing Veterans Day into law more than eight years after Raymond Weeks held the first Veterans Day. Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
What Is Tradition Day (Argentina)?
Day of Tradition (Día de la Tradición) is celebrated in Argentina every Nov. 10. It commemorates the birthday of José Hernández, an Argentine poet best known for his epic poem Martín Fierro.
José Hernández was born Nov. 10, 1834. Although he was a journalist and a politician as well as a poet, he is almost exclusively known for his magnum opus “Martín Fierro.”
“Martín Fierro” is an epic poem centered on the life of the gaucho, using him as a symbol of Argentine national tradition and emphasizing the role of the gaucho in Argentina's independence from Spain.
Day of Tradition was created to celebrate the gaucho culture and the cultural impact of José Hernández. Although it is not a public holiday, it is widely marked throughout the country, with the main celebration being held in the town of San Antonio de Areco, which is regarded as the center of the gaucho culture.
What Is Shichi-Go-San?
In Japan, “Shichi-Go-San” or “Seven-Five-Three” is a celebration of the rite of passage of young children for their continued growth and well-being. The celebrations are centered around boys between the ages of 3 and 5 and girls between the ages of 3 and 7.
Children dress in traditional kimonos, or western formal wear, and visit shrines with their parents. One of the favorite traditions for the children are the gifts of “Chitose Ame” or “Thousand Year Candy.” These candies are typically long, red and white symbolizing health and longevity, and are gift wrapped along with a crane and a turtle which also represent long life.
Shchi-Go-San is said to have originated in the Heian period among court nobles who celebrated the passage of their children into middle childhood. The ages 3, 5 and 7 are consistent with East Asian numerology, which holds that odd numbers are lucky. The practice was set to the 15th of the month during the Kamakura period.
Over time, this tradition passed to the samurai class who added a number of rituals. The holiday’s meaning is to celebrate the survival of children, because in the past people have lost their children due to poor health conditions. So, until the age 7, children were thought to be offspring of Japanese Gods.
What Is Thanksgiving?
Held on the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving in the United States began with a journey of pilgrims fleeing religious persecution. They left England hoping for a better life. They first settled in Holland, but soon left for the New World in a ship called the Mayflower.
The voyage was long and the conditions harsh and stressful, causing many problems. When land was finally sighted, the voyagers united and pledged to work together as equals. This agreement is known as the Mayflower Compact and the united group called themselves the Pilgrims.
Settling in Plymouth, they found a safe harbor, a large source of fish, and friendly native folk. The winter, however, was devastating. They lost over half of their population. During their time of anguish, the local Native Americans befriended and helped, teaching the Pilgrims how to grow the indigenous corn and other native vegetables, how to use the native plants for medicines and flavorings, and how to identify the poisonous plants.
By autumn they had built homes and had a good harvest with fish packed in salt and cured meats to survive the winter. They invited their new friends to a three-day feast to celebrate and give thanks.
President Abraham proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving in 1863. Today, many celebrate Thanksgiving with a large feast featuring turkey, sweet potatoes/yams, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce or relish (or both). Many families will go around the table and each person will give thanks for something in their lives.
What Is Advent?
Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and this year on Nov. 27.
A holy season in the Christian calendar, Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar, a special time as Christians wait and prepare for the coming of the Lord, Jesus whose birth is celebrated on Christmas.
In the early days of the church, Advent was a time of prayer and confession. Today, Advent is more a time of preparation and expectation of the coming of the Lord. The Advent Wreath is an important symbol of Advent for the season. It usually sits on the dinner table and is a constant reminder of the holy season. The wreath is of German origin and consists for an evergreen wreath, and four Advent candles.
Three candles are purple and one is pink. During the lighting tradition — on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (the first Sunday of Advent) — the first Advent candle is lit at dinner and a short prayer is said. On the second Sunday of Advent, a second purple candle is lit. On the third Sunday the pink candle is lit. Finally on the fourth Sunday of Advent, just a few days before the birth of Christ, the final purple candle is lit.