Archive for the "International" Category

World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day

When is World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day?

World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day is a holiday dedicated to both the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. It is a memorial celebrated every January 27th. The holiday is also known as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Remembering the Holocaust

The Holocaust is one of the most tragic and despicable sets of events in human history. It was a movement sparked by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to target and kill certain groups of people, mainly Jews. The genocide started in Germany before World War II. As Nazi occupations expanded, so did the killings. It is estimated that more than 6 million Jews died in concentration camps. Millions of Roma gypsies were also killed. The annihilation targeted disabled individuals and homosexuals, too. Such killings eventually expanded to political and religious opponents of the Nazis.

Targeted individuals were sent to concentration camps across Europe. Auschwitz, located in Poland, was one of the worst during the Holocaust movement: over one million were killed here. On January 27, 1945, the Soviets took over the camp and shut it down.

History of the Holiday

Since the Holocaust movement was brought to light, it has been regarded as one of the worst events to ever occur in human history. Numerous memorials have been created to remember all of the victims. The Holocaust has spurred numerous museums as well. One of the most notable is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was established in Washington, D.C. in 1995. Smaller museums have since opened in cities across the country with the same purpose: to never let anyone forget the Holocaust, and to serve as reminders about human rights.

An official holiday wasn’t created until 60 years after the end of World War II. In 2005, the United Nations sought to commemorate victims and survivors of the Holocaust. The General Assembly voted to create the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. January 27th was the chosen date to commemorate the take-over of Auschwitz. The purpose of World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day is to not only pay tribute to Holocaust victims, but to also raise awareness to prevent future cases of genocide. The holiday was officially observed in 2006.

Celebrating Human Rights

World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day isn’t a federal holiday, so government offices and schools remain open. However, the holiday is widely recognized across the country, as well as many others. Since this holiday is a memorial, the events are often solemn. Survivors remember lost friends and loved ones, while celebrating the fact that they made it through the terrible events.

This holiday is also a celebration of human rights. While the genocide certainly can’t be reversed, the events can be served as reminders that some groups of people still don’t uphold universal human rights. We can learn from these tragic events to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. A common symbol of World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day is white roses with barbed wire.

International Migrants Day

When is International Migrants Day?

International Migrants Day is a holiday that recognizes the rights of migrant workers around the world, as well as their families. It was established by the United Nations and continues to gain prevalence in numerous countries. International Migrants Day is celebrated every December 18th.

History

Migrant workers are increasingly placed in the spotlight, but such cases aren’t anything new. Workers have migrated to different regions of the world for centuries. Before Hawai’i was annexed by the United States, migrant workers came by the thousands from parts of Asia to work in the sugarcane fields. This became one of the biggest migrations of the time. Another example in recent history is the migration of workers from Syria looking for better living conditions. For some groups, worker migration can be a sensitive issue based on political, economic and differences.

Despite varying opinions on immigration, the fact is that there is often little protection for migrant workers once they leave their home countries. The United Nations held a convention in 1990 surrounding this issue. Of particular concern was the migrants’ families. International Migrants Day was established in December 2000 out of human rights concerns over migrants and their families. It has been held every December 18th ever since, and has gained popularity as various world governments look for ways to protect these human rights.

Action and Celebration

Awareness and social action are the focal points of International Migrants Day. Human rights is an increasingly prevalent issue, especially in today’s information world where violations are more-known. Migrants around the world continue to take the brave step to leave unsuitable living conditions in pursuit of better work opportunities to take care of their families. Sadly, along their journeys, basic human rights may be violated. This can occur on the part of employers, or even governments. International Migrants Day was created to raise awareness about such issues so societies can take action.

The holiday isn’t completely without celebrations. While not a public holiday, International Migrants Day is recognized by many nations. Communities may hold special events to celebrate histories in culture. Success stories may also be highlighted. Thanks to social media, International Migrants Day is also a hot topic of discussion on the Internet.

Challenges and Controversies

According to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 232 million people currently live in regions outside of their birth countries. This includes the Secretary-General himself. With such a valid point, it’s difficult to hold prejudices against immigrants–especially in countries that were originally founded by migrant workers.

Still, the situation is more complex than simply accepting all migrant workers. There are numerous challenges involved in protecting the rights of migrants. Some refuge countries don’t have the resources to offer this type of protection for their own people, let alone migrant workers and their families. The U.N. continues to work to find solutions to protect the human rights of all people, regardless of their status. One of the main purposes of International Migrants Day is to come up with solutions for universal human protection.

Chinese New Year

When is the Chinese New Year?

The modern Gregorian calendar has led the way to January 1st being the official start of the New Year. However, different calendars of the past have variations in the start of the New Year: this includes the ancient Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year is similar to the holiday on the Gregorian calendar, but with much deeper roots in history and traditions.

A New Year Based on Ancient History

Chinese New Year is thought to have started during the Shang Dynasty, which was established in 1600 B.C. The holiday has roots in religion and mythology, as well as other ancient traditions. The holiday is based on a seasonal calendar, and it officially marks the beginning of spring.

One of the oldest traditions is to appease the beast Nian—there is an ancient myth that he would come and destroy crops, and even endanger the people. Villagers would place food at their doorsteps to keep the Nian happy, and they would often wear red to scare him away. In later years, villagers also used firecrackers to scare the beast.

Evolution of Celebrations

Many people have misconceptions about Chinese New Year. While many western celebrations include fireworks and dragon costume parades, there is much more to the underlying traditions surrounding this holiday. Unlike New Year’s Day on the Gregorian calendar, celebrations can last for several days instead of one. Event details may vary depending on which one of the 12 different animals symbolizes the new year, based on the Chinese zodiac calendar.

While many of the celebrations aren’t as stringent as they were in past centuries, the basic principles of Chinese New Year remain the same. Family is often at the center of the holiday. It is not only a chance to spend time with loved ones, but the holiday also marks an occasion to remember ancestors and recent losses of family members. Most families mark Chinese New Year with a special dinner, followed by participation in community parades and other celebrations. Others choose to take the day to off to relax from school or work.

Red is one of the most commonly used colors in Chinese New Year celebrations. This is because red stands for good-luck, wealth and happiness. Presents may be given wrapped in red paper. Red decorations, as well as red fireworks are also commonplace.

Dates of Celebration

The exact date of the Chinese New Year varies because the holiday doesn’t follow the Gregorian calendar. Instead, it is based on the lunisolar calendar, which follows varying phases of the moon and sun. For this reason, Chinese New Year can occur anytime between January and February. In 2014, Chinese New Year occurs on January 31st, which is also the start of the Year of the Horse. 2015 will be the Year of the Sheep starting on February 19th.

While Chinese New Year is still important to those with roots in China, many people in western countries celebrate both the lunisolar and Gregorian New Year holidays. The difference is that Chinese New Year celebrates the traditions of Chinese culture. The holiday is now commonly referred to as the Spring Festival.

Wright Brothers Day

When is Wright Brothers Day?

Wright Brothers Day is held every December 17th to celebrate the aviation achievements of Orville and Wilbur Wright. This is also the same day in 1903 when the Wright Brothers made aviation history with their famous 12-second flight that would change the world.

History

Orville and Wilbur Wright were brothers who both had aspirations in aircraft. December 17, 1903 proved to be their lucky day. On this date, the brothers launched “Flyer,” a mechanical propeller plane, for a total of 12 seconds. Flyer also managed to stay in flight for about 120 feet. This historic event occurred in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Part of the success of this flight was the Wright brothers’ use of aircraft controllers. While they weren’t the first Americans to test planes, the Wright Brothers are the first to be credited with this type of success in aviation.

The first Wright Brothers Day was established on December 17, 1963. Since then, the United States continues to observe the historic flight that occurred over a century ago. While not regarded as a public holiday, celebrations are held in numerous ways in both government and private sectors.

Celebrations in Flight

Wright Brothers Day encompasses the American pioneering spirit. With this mood in mind, the President of the United States makes a Proclamation every December 17th to commemorate this holiday. It is a speech that not only alludes to the story and success of Orville and Wilbur Wright, but the President also officially proclaims the day to be Wright Brothers Day.

The spirit of Wright Brothers Day is extended to public schools, where teachers prepare special lessons about aviation. Public celebrations also take place in the brothers’ hometown of Dayton, Ohio. A 60-foot national memorial currently stands in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, which is near the area of the famous flight. While the memorial is open to visitors any time of the year, attendance is particularly high on Wright Brothers Day. Other celebrators choose to visit aviation museums, as well as air shows that often take place during the holiday.

Facts and Controversies

While the Wright brothers made significant contributions to aviation, these achievements are often overshadowed by critics who think that Orville and Wilbur Wright get too much credit. They weren’t technically the first to test out aircraft, so stating that they were the “first in flight” often angers critics. However, the Wright brothers were the first to invent and successfully use navigation steering, which paved the way to modern aircraft.

The Wright brothers are often included in National Aviation Day celebrations because of their contributions to modern-day aviation. In fact, National Aviation Day is held every August 19th to coincide with Orville Wright’s birthday. Still, the two holidays are not the same. Some people who celebrate National Aviation Day focus on the Wright brothers, which often adds fuel to controversies. There’s no disputing, however, the fact that the brothers’ contributions to flight navigations changed aviation as we know it today.

By: Kristeen Cherney