Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duan Wu Jie, falls on May 30.

Dragon Boat Bow

Dragon Boat Bow by Russ Glasson, via Flickr

It is widely held that the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 B.C.), who drowned himself rather than see his homeland invaded by a warring state. However, according to Yuan Chang-rue, a folklorist and professor at the Graduate School of Folk Culture and Arts, “[i]n ancient times, the Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated in early summer, reminded people that the ‘poison season’ of May, June and July, is beginning…” and was associated with health and well-being.

Today, the festival is highlighted by the dragon boat races and the eating of zongi, a sticky rice dish with a variety of fillings.

Shavu’ot is coming

Shavu’ot, the Festival of Weeks, occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June). Shavu’ot, is a festival with both historical and agricultural significance. It commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. In 2017, Shavu’ot begins on May 30th and continues until June 1st.

Memorial Day is Coming

Memorial Day: Arlington National Cemetery 2011, by Celine Aussourd via Flickr

Memorial Day: Arlington National Cemetery 2011, by Celine Aussourd via Flickr

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, and honors American men and women who died in military service to their country. It was started to honor Union soldiers who died during the Civil War, but now includes those who died in any war or military action. Many towns hold Memorial Day parades and many people visit cemeteries and memorials.

This year Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 29th.

Ramadan begins May 26th

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, the time of year when it is believed that the Holy Quran was received by the Prophet Muhammad. The month is marked by fasting during the daylight hours, and prayer and studying of the Quran. When the fast ends on the first day of the month of Shawwal, it is celebrated for three days in a joyous holiday called Id-al-Fitr, the Feast of Fast Breaking.  This year, Ramadan begins on the evening of May 26th and continues until June 25th.

Find out more about this important observance on our page of links.

Mother’s Day is Around the Corner

Mother’s Day was conceived in 1908 by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia. Ms. Jarvis believed that a special day should be set aside to honor mothers for sacrifices made on behalf of their children. She dedicated herself to this cause and was rewarded when Mother’s Day became an official holiday in 1914. The occasion quickly became commercialized, generating huge profits for greeting card companies and florists. This development so offended Anna Jarvis that she eventually renounced the holiday that she had created.

In the United States, Mother’s Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May. This year, Mother’s Day falls on May 14th.

Learn more about Mother’s Day and find ideas for honoring your mother on our page of links.

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

The annual celebration of Asian-Pacific Americans began as a week-long observance in 1978. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a resolution extending the celebration to the entire month of May. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

The month of May was chosen to recognize the history, culture and contributions of Asian-Pacific Americans for two reasons:

1) the first Japanese immigrants in the United States arrived on May 7, 1843
2) the transcontinental railroad, which was constructed largely through the labor of Chinese immigrants, was finished on May 10, 1869

Learn more about Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month on our page of links

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