Monthly Archives: August 2013

Labor Day Weekend!

Labor Day Weekend!

Labor Day is celebrated on the 1st of May by majority of the world. However in the U.S. and Canada Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. The weekend before Labor Day is known as Labor Day Weekend.

This year it falls on the 2nd of September. Labor Day is a day set aside for the working class, to celebrate and pay tribute to men and women who contribute both socially as well as economically.

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Who founded Labor Day?

According to the United States Department of Labor:  “Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those ‘who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.’ But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.”

It’s been over a hundred years since the first Labor Day (1882) was celebrated and we still don’t know for sure!

Labor Day Celebrations:

Labor Day is regarded as a day of rest and relaxation. Most people invite their friends and family for a barbeque . Family Picnics, Sports, Street Parades and firework displays are common during the Labor Day weekend. Ecards are also sent to friends and colleagues to ‘take it easy’ and have a restful Labor Day weekend.

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Rosh Hashanah- Symbols and Customs (Part 2 of 2)

Celebrating the New Year isn’t the only theme of Rosh Hashanah; it is also:

  • A day of Judgment because it is believed by Jews that on Rosh Hashanah it will be decided whether they will live or die in the coming year, their names will be written in the Holy Book, and 10 days later on ‘Yom Kippur’ the book will be sealed.

 

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  • A Day of Remembrance– Recalling the biblical account of Abraham and Isaac, Jews are reminded that in order to attain God’s mercy we must submit to him first.

CUSTOMS AND SYMBOLS:

  • On both days of Rosh Hashanah, the ‘Shofar’ must be blown 100 times each day. The Shofar is an important symbol of Rosh Hashanah. It is an instrument which is made out of a Ram’s horn.Image

 

  • It is customary to wear white apparel on Rosh Hashanah as it symbolizes purity. In all synagogues, curtains and covers are also changed to white.
  • A custom ritual called ‘Tashlich’ is performed on the first day (second day if it falls on Shabbat). Most Jews go to the bank of a river or a lake; some even go to the beach, recite certain prayers and symbolically cast their sins into the water.
  • On the second night of Rosh Hashanah it is customary to eat fruit, usually fruit that is new to the season. Apples dipped in honey are most common and especially significant for Rosh Hashanah as it symbolizes hope for a sweeter New Year.

 

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  • The customary greeting during Rosh Hashanah is ‘L’shanah Tovah’ which means ‘Have a good year’, People also greet each other by saying ‘L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu’ and ‘Gemar Chatimah Tovah’ which means ‘May you be inscribed in the book of life for a good year’ and ‘May your final sealing in the book of life be good‘ respectively. Many People also send New Year’s greetings cards on Rosh Hashanah a few days before the holiday begins.

 

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ROSH HASHANAH – May you be inscribed in the book of life for a good year. (Part 1 of 2)

Rosh Hashanah is a Hebrew word which translates into ‘Head of the Year’. It is the Jewish New Year which is celebrated on the first 2 days of the month of ‘Tishrei’. Rosh Hashanah occurs 10 days before the feast of ‘Yom Kippur’ and is the first of the ‘High Holy Days’. According to the Jewish religion it is believed that God created the world in the month of ‘Tishrei’ and therefore Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as the Birth of the World.

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People greet one another on Rosh Hashanah by saying ‘L’shanah Tovah’ which means ‘Have a good year’, ‘L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu’ meaning ‘May you be inscribed in the book of life for a good year’ and ‘Gemar Chatimah Tovah’ which means ‘May your final sealing in the book of life be good’.

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This year Rosh Hashanah celebrations begin on the 4th of September. According to Judaism, during the ‘High Holy days’ God decides who is to live or die in the coming year, as a result Jews begin to examine their lives and repent for any sins they have committed in the past. Jews believe that on Rosh Hashanah the names are written in the Holy book and 10 days later on ‘Yom Kippur’ the book is sealed.

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Rosh Hashanah is a Holiday full of Hope, compassion and forgiveness, and each one of us must strive to be a better person and to strengthen the bonds of our society. We can begin by greeting one another ‘Shalom Aleichem’ and by spreading Love and Happiness.

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TIES THAT BIND

On the 21st of August 2013, the festival of Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated primarily in India, Nepal, Mauritius and even parts of Pakistan. Raksha Bandhan a Hindu festival which means the bond of protection celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters.

The sister ties a Rakhi, which is a sacred thread on the wrist of her brother; this symbolizes her love for him. In turn the brother offers a gift to his sister and vows to protect her for life.

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Traditionally Hindu families begin their preparation by taking a bath in the morning, to purify both the body and mind. A puja ‘Thali’ (plate) is prepared, consisting of ‘Roli’ (red paste), rice, rakhi’s (sacred threads), Diya’s (small oil lamps), aggarbattis (incense) and sweets.  After the traditional Rituals are performed the sister ties a rakhi on the wrist of her brother while chanting a scared mantra. The brother in return promises to protect his sister from all evil and danger, and offers her gifts.

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The siblings spend time together after the ritual is over. Sisters also prepare sweets and snacks for their brothers. The opportunity to spend quality time with each other is something that all brothers and sisters look forward to, unfortunately all siblings aren’t that fortunate. If they aren’t able to meet on Raksha Bandhan, they talk to each other over the phone, send messages and cards, expressing their love and affection.

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Even though the festival celebrates the bond between siblings, the ritual of tying a rakhi is not only confined to a brother and a sister and Rakhi’s can also be tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbors; thereby promoting unity and harmony among members of society.