Celebrated on the second Monday in March every year, commonwealth day
Commonwealth Day is an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of the Commonwealth’s organisations that aim to improve the lives of its citizens. This year, the Queen is calling for people who live in the Commonwealth to celebrate the “extraordinary cultural tapestry” of the “unique gathering of nations” of the 54 member nations.

“The Commonwealth treasures and respects this wealth of diversity.”

After huge unrest and a massive security clamp down,
Tibetan New Tibetan New YearYear 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.

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.

Waitangi Day

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 throughoutjapan
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.

Waitangi Day is New Zealand’s national day with celebrations Waitangi Maori
taking place all over the country.  Every year on 6 February, New Zealand marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. In that year, representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Maori chiefs signed what is New Zealand’s founding document. The day was first officially commemorated in 1934, and it has been a public holiday since 1974.  Click the links to see photos of Maori dancers: for more information on Waitangi Day: and information on Maori Culture.

OneNgatokimatawhaorua canoe of the world’s largest Māori ceremonial waka (war canoe), the Ngatokimatawhaorua, can be found at Waitangi. The enormous wooden vessel, with room for 80 paddlers and 55 passengers, is an impressive sight on the water. The 70-year-old waka has been refurbished and relaunched for the 2010 celebrations. See photos of the canoe in action

Happy Chinese New Year! This January will be the start Chinese New Year
of the Year of the Dragon, as the world welcomes the Chinese New Year. The New Year falls in January due to the track of the new moon, as the Chinese calendar is a mixture of the Gregorian and lunar-solar calendars. Did you know that it’s such an auspicious year that many couples are hoping to have a child born during the Year of the Dragon? Read this full article to get to know many other aspects of the Chinese New Year and see some super pictures.

When you are out and about over the next fifteen days, if you meet
up with a Chinese friend, remember to wish them a Happy New Year. The most common auspicious greetings and sayings consist of four Chinese characters, such as the following:

  • Jinyu mangtang – “May your wealth [gold and jade] come to fill a hall”
  • Dazhan hongtu – “May you realize your ambitions”
  • Yingchun jiefu – “Greet the New Year and encounter happiness”
  • Wanshi ruyi – “May all your wishes be fulfilled”
  • Jiqing youyu – “May your happiness be without limit”
  • Zhubao pingan – “May you hear [in a letter] that all is well”
  • Yiban wanli = “May a small investment bring ten-thousandfold profits”
  • Fushou shuangquan – “May your happiness and longevity be complete”
  • Zhaocai jinbao – “When wealth is acquired, precious objects follow”

See related articles:

The Chinese New Year Explained

The Fifteen Days of the Chinese New Year

Remember these Chinese New Year Sayings to greet your friends with!

Today is Chinese New Year; but unlike many people who celebrate the occasion just over one night the Chinese honour the New Year by welcoming it over fifteen days.

First day–  This is the day for welcoming the deities of heaven and earth. Cleaning is considered bad luck today and meat is not consumed for health reasons. It is also the day when people honour the elders in their family. Money is given in red envelopes from married relatives to single ones, from business managers to their employees and from parents to children.

Tuesday, 29th November marks the International Day of International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People
Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
It is the anniversary of the adoption of the UN resolution for the partition of Palestine. The observance of this day encourages Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the International Day of Solidarity and to continue to seek solutiosn for Israel and Palestine that address the fundamental security concerns of both parties, ‎find a solution to the refugee issue and see Jerusalem emerge from negotiation as the ‎capital of two States.   What does this situation mean to those living it? Read below some insights for Palestinian people…