Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th and is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on September 16th and Chile on September 18th.
The purpose of American Indian Heritage Month is to honor and recognize America's first citizens, its indigenous people. The first "American Indian Day" was declared by the State of New York in 1916, a month long recognition of Native Americans was not achieved until 1990.
Americans have recognized Black history annually since 1926, first as Negro History Week and later as Black History Month. We owe the celebration of Black history month and the study of Black history to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who first launched Negro History Week to bring national attention to the contributions of Black people throughout American history. The second week of February was chosen because it marked the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
In 1978, a California school district started Women's History Week to promote the teaching of women's history. It was so popular that in 1981, Congress passed a resolution making the week a celebration for the entire country. In 1987, a group of women campaigned with representatives from museums, schools and libraries to expand the celebration, and Congress responded by declaring the entire Month of March National Women's History Month.
Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1997, Representatives of New York and California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian / Pacific Heritage Week. In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further and became APA Heritage Month. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, of which the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Rosh Hashanah is widely known and celebrated as the Jewish New Year. It is celebrated with holiday greeting ca rds, s pecial prayers, and festive and sweet food (to ensure sweetness in the New Year). However, Rosh Hashanah has a fourfold meaning. In addition to being the Jewish New Year, it is the Day of Judgment (as Jews worldwide examine their past deeds and ask for forgiveness for their sins.), the Day of Remembrance (as Jews review the history of their people and pray for Israel), and the Day of Shofar Blowing ( the rams horn is blown in temple to herald the beginning of the 10 day period known as the High Holy Days.)
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The Month of Ramadan is also when it is believed that the Holy Quran "was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and means of Salvation." It is during this ninth month that Muslims fast. The Fast of Ramadan lasts the entire month. The holiday following the fast of Ramadan is Eid al-Fitr (The Festival of Fast-Breaking).
Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement, a day of fasting and repentance to reconcile with the Creator for mistakes made in the last year. It occurs on the ninth day after the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first day of the Jewish month; Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th at sundown).
National Coming Out Day is an international event which gives people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered the opportunity to "come out" to others about their sexuality. The first National Coming Out Day was held on October 11, 1988 to commemorate the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
Chanukah is the festival of lights, commemorating the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem after a successful revolt against the Selucid Greeks. As part of the rededication, the victorious Jews needed to light the Temple's menorah , but they had only enough oil to last one day and it would take eight days to prepare more oil. Miraculously, the one day oil lasted for eight days. The miracle of the oil is commemorated with this eight-day candle lighting holiday.
This cultural holiday was established in 1966 in the midst of the Black Freedom Movement. It was created to reaffirm and restore rootedness in African culture, to serve as a regular communal celebration to reaffirm and reinforce the bonds amongst African Americans. The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima ( Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).
Passover is the 8th day of observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. A time of family gatherings and lavish meals called Seders, the story of Passover is retold through the reading of the Haggadah. With its foods, songs, and customs, the Seder is the focal point of the Passover celebration. Passover begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan.