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Posted on: May 1, 2023

Township Holidays

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The Holidays We Celebrate

Among the most ethnically diverse townships in the state and country, Niles Township further distinguishes itself by celebrating that diversity and creating a respectful and welcoming home to all.

Many Niles Township residents come from places all over the world, bringing with them rich traditions and celebrating holidays of great importance to them. We celebrate along with our neighbors, sharing the meaning of holidays observed in Niles Township.

What is May Day?

May 1

May 1 is International Workers’ Day throughout the world ( was well as a traditional spring holiday in many countries in Europe). It is referred to as May Day.

In 1889, May Day became a special day for workers when the Marxist International Social Congress, meeting in Paris, chose it as the date for International Workers’ Day.

May Day also ties into important history close to home. The American Federation of Labor chose that date to mark its continued fight for the eight-hour workday in the United States, commemorating the Haymarket Affair, which occurred May 4, 1886 in Chicago.

A protest for the eight-hour workday began peacefully that day in Haymarket Square, but turned violent after police killed one protester and injured several others. In response, an unidentified person threw a bomb at police, and the explosion and ensuing gunfire killed seven officers and injured at least four civilians.

May 1st is now a national, public holiday in many countries across the world, in most cases known as International Workers' Day, but in some countries given a similar name.

What Is Cinco De Mayo?

May 5

Cinco de Mayo, which is “Fifth of May” in Spanish, is also known as the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, a holiday celebrated in parts of Mexico and the United States. It commemorates an unlikely military victory by Mexico in 1862 over the much larger French forces of Napoleon III.

The day became a holiday of celebration because of the morale boost the victory provided Mexicans. But it was a short-lived morale boost: A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated the Mexican army at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.

Cinco de Mayo today is celebrated in the United States as much if not more than it is celebrated in Mexico. The holiday has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture with festivities and other events in some quarters.

Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States began in California and have been observed annually since 1863. The holiday grew in national popularity in the 1980s — in part because of advertising campaigns by beer and wine companies. Along with the Super Bowl, it’s one of the biggest days for beer and wine sales.

In Mexico, the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla is mostly ceremonial and includes military parades or battle reenactments. The city of Puebla marks the event with an arts festival, a festival of local cuisine, and re-enactments of the battle.

What Is Mother's Day?

May 14

Mother’s Day is among the most celebrated holidays of the year and most definitely a major day in the life of a florist. It’s also the biggest day of the year for long-distance telephone calls.

But exactly how did this day that shines a spotlight on Mom and all that she does come to be?

The American version was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. (Jarvis later denounced the holiday because of how commercialized it became, and she spent much of her later life trying to remove it from the calendar. By then, though, there was no turning back).

Celebrations of motherhood go all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is an early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”

Over time Mothering Sunday became a more secular holiday. Children presented their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. The custom eventually merged with the American version of Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.

Motherhood is not celebrated by all countries on the same date. In some countries, a celebration of motherhood is tied to the majority religion, such as Virgin Mary Day in Catholic countries. In other countries, Mother’s Day is tied to a date with historical significance.

What Is International Day Of Families?

May 15

Founded by the United Nations in 1994, the International Day of Families is observed every May 15 to honor the importance of families. 

According to the U.N., families — both traditional and non-traditional —are the foundation of society. “Our most formative years are spent with our families and those people are likely the most important people in our lives, so they should be celebrated.” The organizers of the special day encourage people to “protect the family unit in society by starting at home with our own.”

The observance of The International Day of Families began in 1993 as an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

This year’s theme, “Demographic Trends and Families” comes on the heels of the world’s population reaching eight billion people in 2022. This landmark event illustrates major advancements in health extending human lifespans. Population growth is projected to continue with the world propulation reaching 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.

“Demographic change is one of the most important megatrends impacting our world and the life and well-being of families worldwide,” according to the United Nations.

What Is Ascension Day?

May 18

Ascension, in Christian belief, is the ascent of Jesus Christ into heaven on the 40th day after his Resurrection (Easter being reckoned as the first day). The Feast of the Ascension ranks with Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost in the universality of its observance among Christians.

One of the earliest Christian festivals, Ascension Day marks the end of the Easter season celebrated primarily by Catholics and Anglican Christians.

As per the New Testament in the Bible, after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday, he was resurrected from the dead in three days, on the day we know as Easter Sunday. 

For 40 days after this, he stayed with his Apostles (the primary disciples of Christ) to instruct them on how to carry out his teachings. As the Bible says, at the end of day 40, Jesus Christ and his disciples went to Mount Olivet (or the Mount of Olives), near Jerusalem. After asking them to stay, Christ then ascended to heaven to take his seat at the right hand of God, under the gaze of his disciples. 

To Christians, the ascension signifies that Christ completed his work on Earth and allowed him to prepare a place for his followers in heaven.

What Is World Day For Cultural Diversity?

May 21

Every May 21, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development urges everyone to do their part to bridge the gap between cultures. The day is often referred to as Diversity Day.

According to the United Nations, bridging this gap is essential for peace, development, and stability. Deepening an understanding of the values of cultural diversity can achieve these four goals, according to the United Nations:

    Support sustainable systems for the governance of culture.

    Achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services.

    Integrate culture into the frameworks of sustainable development.

    Promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

How do we embrace other cultures? It begins by having a dialogue with those who have different backgrounds. Other ways to embrace our differences is to develop respect and mutual understanding for different cultures and those of other faiths.

The special day is meant to encourage people to take part in cultural diversity events held around the world. These events include concerts, educational seminars, workshops, and exhibitions.

Many churches begin Easter observance in the late hours of the preceding day (Holy Saturday) in a religious service called the Easter Vigil. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Easter rituals start with the Great Lent, which begins on Clean Monday (40 days prior to Easter, not including Sundays). The last week of Great Lent is referred to as Palm Week, and it ends with Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which ends on Easter.

Like Passover, Easter foods are rooted in symbolism. An Easter dinner of lamb is meaningful because a lamb was often used as a sacrificial animal in Jewish traditions, and lamb is frequently served during Passover. The phrase “lamb of God” is sometimes used to refer to Jesus and the sacrificial nature of his death.

What Is Memorial Day?

May 29

Memorial Day events held in the United States were not introduced until the late 19th century.

The roots of the holiday date back to the end of the Civil War when Northerners and Southerners alike were looking for a way to publicly mourn their fallen. Most observances were concentrated in the South, where the most Civil War graves were located.

In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War.

More than 25 cities have claimed to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. For example, Macon, Georgia, claims it began there in 1866, while Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, maintains it began there in 1864. Nevertheless, in 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, New York the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Even though its roots go back to the post-Civil War, Memorial Day wasn’t made an official federal holiday until 1971. Today, it falls on the last Monday of May every year. Americans all over the country honor fallen service members with parades, barbecues and commemorative services.

What Is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

All of May

May marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which celebrates the histories of Americans hailing from across the Asian continent and from the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

This year's theme, selected by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council, is "Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity."

Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

Before Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month became recognized every May, it began as a special week in May. Like most commemorative months, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month originated with Congress. In 1977, a resolution was introduced proclaiming the first 10 days in May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week.

What Is Shavuot?

May 25

Shavuot, or “Feast Of Weeks,”  is a two-day holiday that commemorates the date when God gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai over 3,000 years ago. 

Preceded by 49 days of counting in eager anticipation, Shavuot is celebrated through desisting from work, candle-lit dinners, staying up all night to study Torah, listening to the reading of the Ten Commandments in synagogue, enjoying dairy foods and other festivities.

Shavuot begins at sundown following the 5th of Sivan and lasts until nightfall of the 7th of Sivan — this year from May 25 to May 27. In Israel, it is a one-day holiday, ending at nightfall of the 6th of Sivan.

The Feast of Weeks is also known as Harvest, a festival of joy and thanksgiving celebrating the completion of the harvest season.

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