Team Time - 11-8-19

9   Aboakyere  The Effutu people of Ghana make an offering each spring with a deer-hunting festival. Two teams of men and boys, dressed in bright costumes, compete to be the first to bring back a live deer to present to the chief. Then they all dance together.

15  Arapaho Sun Dance  A festival centering on the sun dance takes place during summer in Wyoming. Cheyenne, Arapaho, Shoshone, and members of other Plains Indians tribes dance around a pole topped by a buffalo's head. The buffalo is a symbol of plenty, and dancers wish for good fortune in the year ahead.

6  Basanth  In Pakistan, boys celebrate the first day of spring in the Muslim calendar with exciting kite-fighting contests. After putting powdered glass on their strings, they use the strings to try to cut off each other's kites. Whoever keeps his kite the longest wins.

4  Christmas  In some parts of Europe, "star singers" go caroling as they walk behind a huge star on a pole. In Finland, families place a single lit candle in the snow next to the graves of their loved ones. The candles are a symbol of resurrection and a reminder that ancestors will live again.

18  Day of the Dead  On November 1 — called Día de los Muertos — Mexicans remember their loved ones who have died by visiting them and having a meal right in the graveyard. Stores sell sugar-candy caskets, breads decorated with "bone" shapes, and toy skeletons. 

10  Easter  Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ by attending church and enjoy different customs. In Germany, people make "egg trees" that are decorated like Christmas trees. In Hungary, boys sprinkle girls with perfumed water — and in return, girls prepare a holiday dinner for them. 

19  Festa Junina  On June 24, people in Brazile mark the end of the summer and the beginning of the harvest season. It originated as a Catholic holiday and celebrates three Catholic saints: Saint Anthony, Saint John, and Saint Peter. Families celebrate by dressing in rural, harvest-themed clothes and building bonfires in the street in front of their homes. As June is a colder month, the bonfires help establish a warm area for the community to gather. In Brazil, most corn is harvested in June; because of this harvest, much of the food eaten during Festa Junina is made with corn.

7  Holi  For this Hindu spring festival, people dress in green. Children then squirt each other with water pistols filled with yellow- or red-colored liquid. They also blow colored powder on each other through bamboo pipes. Everyone gets soaked — and colorful — to celebrate spring.

2  Kwanzaa  This holiday, which means "First Fruits," is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. Celebrated from December 26 to January 1, millions of African Americans dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candleholder called a kinara. 

5  Mardi Gras  This day is also known as Shrove Tuesday. The time of Lent is a time of solemn reflection, so the Tuesday before Lent begins is a time of merry-making for people around the world. In New Orleans, people wear costumes and attend huge parades. Brazil's Carnaval also features parades, costumes, and music. In England, some towns have pancake contests in which women run a race while flipping a pancake at least three times. 

20  Maslenitsa  This Slavic holiday that is celebrated right before the Great Lent in March. Also called Pancake Week, it is a weeklong holiday in which the Russian people eat blinis, thin pancakes covered in toppings that can range from sweet to savory.

12  May Day  To celebrate the return of spring, children in England dance around tall poles decorated with ribbons. Their dancing wraps the ribbons tightly around the pole. 

13  Midsummer Day  The sun continues to shine long after midnight in Scandinavia when this holiday is celebrated in late June. Swedish villagers decorate a spruce trunk — called a najstang — like a maypole. In Norway, families light bonfires along the fjords.

3  New Year  In Ecuador, families dress a straw man in old clothes representing the old year. The family members make a will for the straw man that lists all of their faults. At midnight, they burn the straw man, in hopes that their faults will disappear with him. 


14  O-Bon  Japanese people keep the memory of their ancestors alive with a festival held during the summer. People put lit candles in lanterns and float them on rivers and seas. They also visit and clean the graves of those who have died. In the ancient city of Kyoto, people light giant bonfires.


11  Passover   The highlight of this major Jewish holiday is the seder. During these two special dinners, families read from a book called the Haggadah about the ancient Israelites' exodus, or flight, from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. As they honor their ancestors, Jews reaffirm the importance of freedom. 

23  Qingming   This Chinese festival is a time for families to honor their ancestors and celebrate the beginning of spring. The holiday is also called “Tomb Sweeping Day” or “Pure Brightness”—the literal English translation—and usually falls between April 4 and 6. As the name suggests, the festival is a time for families to show reverence for their ancestors by visiting, cleaning, and repairing their ancestors’ tombs; sometimes families also leave wreaths or food offerings in front of the tombs. It is also a celebration of rebirth and the beginning of spring with people flying kites or colored lanterns, participating in sports, or simply spending time outside to enjoy the new greenery and blossoms of spring.

16  Ramadan   During the ninth month of the Islamic calendar year, Muslims do not eat, drink, or smoke from sunrise to sunset for an entire month. Instead, they spend their days in worship, praying in mosques. 

17  Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur   In September or October, Jews believe that God opens the Book of Life for ten days, starting with the Jewish New Year and ending with the Day of Atonement. During these days, the holiest in the Jewish year, Jews try to atone for any wrongdoing and to forgive others. A ram's horn trumpet, known as the shofar, is blown before, during, and at the conclusion of this time. 


8  Songkran   In Thailand, during a three-day water festival on April 13–15, the Buddhists celebrate of the new year. Parades feature huge statues of Buddha that spray water on passersby. In small villages, young people throw water at each other for fun. People also release fish into rivers as an act of kindness.


1  St. Lucia Day  December 13: To honor a third-century saint, many girls in Sweden dress up in long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns. 


21  St. Nicholas Eve  On December 5, Dutch children are told that Sinterklaas comes to Holland all the way from Spain to deliver toys. Sinterklaas, according to tradition, leaves his steamboat at a port and rides through the town on a white horse. His helpers, all called Piet, help him deliver presents to the children who have been good. Naughty children, by contrast, are said to be taken to Spain for a year to learn to be nice. (Christmas is later celebrated with religious, revernt, family traditions.)


22  Tu B’shevat  A tradition celebrated by Jews is on the 15th day of the month of Shevat (January or February, depending on the Hebrew calendar). Its purpose is to celebrate the end of the rainy season and to emphasize the responsibility to care for and nurture the earth. People plant trees, eat fruit, and celebrate the beauty and magnificence of our planet.


25  Wigilia  This meal, which features several types of fish, begins when the first star appears in the evening sky. (Children are sent outside to keep watch.) The host gives everyone a piece of the oplatek, a paper-thin wafer embossed with a Nativity scene, then guests break off pieces to give one another, offering a wish in the process. An empty seat is left to welcome a stranger who would otherwise be alone (and to symbolically invite Jesus, the birthday boy, to the table).

24  Yalda Night   This Iranian festival, observed on December 20th or 21st, celebrates the “longest and darkest night of the year.” During this holiday, friends and family gather together to stay awake all night eating, drinking and reading poetry. Traditional food includes fruits, nuts, pomegranates, and watermelon. The red color of the fruit symbolizes the glow of life.