After huge unrest and a massive security clamp down,
Tibetan New Year will not be its usual festive self. Tibet’s exiled government has called on Tibetans not to celebrate their new year which begins on Wednesday after Chinese authorities have implemented what some experts say are unprecedented measures of control on vast swathes of ethnically Tibetan regions, following a wave of self-immolations by Buddhist monks and nuns. See statement by Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay on YouTube.
The Tibetan New year, also known as Losar, is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar. It is normally celebrated over a period of 2 weeks and marked with ancient ceremonies that represents the struggle between good and evil, by chanting, and by passing fire torches through the crowds. This year, the exiled Government has asked that Tibetans observe instead traditional and spiritual rituals for those who have died.
There are approximately 7000 different language spoken in the world. It’s crucial to acknowledge and celebrate this spectrum, because according to studies by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) 50% of these languages will disappear in the next few generations. This is mostly due to globalisation. Currently, only a few hundred languages are used in education systems around the world, and less than a hundred languages in the digital world.
Globalization continuously threatens our array of languages. This is why, in 1999, the International Mother Language Day was first proclaimed by the UN and it’s been celebrated every year on February 22nd, since 2000. The date represents the day in 1952 when two students were shot and killed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for demonstrating for the recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the national languages of Pakistan.
The Christian celebration, Lent, begins today. Lent is forty days of reflection and preparation before Easter. It begins with Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is a day to clean one’s soul before Lent. Lent is traditionally a season to fast from food and festivities, and to reflect upon the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. Therefore, on Ash Wednesday, some Roman Catholic and Anglican churches have special services where worshippers are marked with ashes as a symbol of the sorrow of sin. Ash symbolises the fact that death comes to everyone, and that everyone should feel sad for their sins. In addition, ash symbolises the total finality of how, in the bible, God creates Adam from dust and how Adam returns to dust after his death. Hence, the saying, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
During Lent the colour purple is very important. Purple symbolises both the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion and the royalty and sovereignty of his resurrection.
Lent is an old English word that means ‘to lengthen.’ Lent got this name for being a time of spring when days lengthen.
After Lent follows Easter, which is one of the most important and most celebrated Christian festivals.
The World Day of Social Justice was established on February 20th in 2009 to promote gender equality, fair employment, social well-being, and justice around the world.
In his message last year the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said:
“Social justice is more than an ethical imperative, it is a foundation for national stability and global prosperity. Equal opportunity, solidarity and respect for human rights — these are essential to unlocking the full productive potential of nations and peoples..”
For us in the West, Valentine’s Day is the day that celebrates love.
St. Valentine has become the patron saint of lovers and on this day we traditionally exchange messages of love, send poems and simple gifts such as chocolates and flowers to our beloved. Traditionally, these are sent anonomously – ‘From Your Valentine’ – which is thought to have come from the farewell note sent from St. Valentine to his gaoler’s daughter just before he was put to death. In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800′s and now the date is very commercialised. The colour Red, Roses and Hearts are the symbols tradtionally associated with this day. Read below for the full history of St. Valentine’s Day.
Congratulations to Zambia who yesterday won the World
Championship of Nations – The Africa Cup. And, just as I thought today couldn’t get greyer and gloomier with the our great British weather, along came Patricia, a student of mine at the London Academy of Diplomacy, looking stunningly beautiful in such a bright colourful outfit. Celebrating her county’s success, she brought a touch of sunshine into our lives and her infectious happiness made us smile. Thank you Zambia – and Patricia, too!
My good friends from 'down-under' - Holona & Trish Lui
New Zealand’s nationhood is both proudly acknowledged and embraced on Waitangi Day: the 6thof February. It marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 between the local Maori (NZ indigenous people) and the British Crown. Over the years the Treaty has been hailed and celebrated as a symbol of New Zealand’s nationhood; but, on the other hand, the Treaty is also condemned by those who seek to ignore and dismiss its provisions and obligations on the Crown to safeguard Maori rights to their language, culture, land and resources. This has meant that Waitangi Day is both a celebration of nationhood, and at times a flash point between the differing cultural values of Maori…
National Foundation Day is a day of celebration throughout
Japan. Each year, on 11th February, the country remembers its historic roots. National Foundation Day, or Kenkoku Kinen no Hi, has its roots in Kigensetsu, or ‘Empire Day’, founded by the Meiji Emperor in 1873 to honour the Imperial family line and the founding of Japan. However, it is now thought that the Meiji government wanted to raise the profile of the Imperial Emperor and unite the modernising Japan as a nation-state following the abolition of the traditional Shogunate. Although done away with after World War II, Kigensetsu was subsequently revived in 1966 as National Foundation Day.
History tells us that Japan’s first ruler was Emperor Jimmu, a descendant of the Sun Goddess, who was crowned on 11 February, 660BC. This day is regarded as the founding of the nation. Although this is now considered to be a myth, it was a strongly unifying idea and lead to the belief that Japan as a nation was invincible.
Nirvana Day (also known as Parinirvana Day) is a Mahayana Buddhist day that celebrates the death of the Buddha, or in other words, the day the Buddha finally reached Nirvana at the age of 80. Some celebrate this day on the 8th and others on the 15th of February. So, what is Nirvana? The mental state of Nirvana symbolises the loss of all suffering and want, and freedom from the pain of physical existence. The word its self means ‘to extinguish.’ An enlightened monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, explains…
Every year, on the 15th day of the first Lunar Calendar month the Lantern Festival officially ends the celebrations for Chinese New Year. This year, the festival is on February 7th. The Lantern Festival is celebrated so widely in South-East Asia that it is sometimes called the Second New Year. Examples of countries that celebrate the festival are China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
During the night of the festival thousands of red lanterns are lit and flown into the night sky. Each lantern is individually decorated. Some decorate the lanterns with prayers, whereas some prefer to write riddles. Traditionally, in China, the Lantern Festival is considered a day for lovers. Watch the clip below from Chiang Mai, Thailand to see the beauty in this phenomenon!
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