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The night of April the 30th is known as Walpurgis Night in many parts of Europe but I will be focusing on Sweden‘s celebration of the night. Origans of the celebration are traced back to the days of the Vikings and the welcoming of spring in the land long before the name Walpurgis which comes from an abbes born in 710 and became a Saint.
Throughout the country people celebrate in different ways but there are some similarities, such as bon fires being light on top of hills and mountains. This was done for three reasons; to frighten away predators as livestock where put out to pasture for the first time of the year, to welcome spring and to scare away witches and demons as the night was known for being a time when the lines between the living and dead where very thin. Another tradition is for those who are graduating or have graduated wear the traditional hat, white with a black. I found indications that schools are closed this day and champagne is drank in the morning in celebration as well. In university towns there are marches of the graduates as well.
A personal account of the day talked of boat races down the local river in Uppsala where the winner is determined by the funniest boat (1).
There is much singing of traditional Swedish songs around the bon fire welcoming the spring, which as the official website of Sweden pointed out was ironic as there is often snow and sleet coming down trying to put out the fire.
As a side note, the birth of The King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf is April 30th(2) and from some sources indicated this was one of the official flag days of the country. Unfortunately, I was unable to find documentation per the government’s or embassy’s websites to collaborate this.
http://www.sweden.se/templates/cs/Event____17130.aspx (Official Sweden website)
In 2007 the Japanese Parliament reestablished the 29th of April as a day to celebrate the birth of Emperor Shōwa (Emperor Hirohito, ruled during World War II). Until his death in 1989 the day was seen as a day to celebrate the birth of the Emperor. After his death the name was changed to Greenery Day to distance the day from the war time leader but still connect the day to him as he was known for having a deep interest in nature.
Several attempts where made to change the name back before it was successful but due to the devastating events of the war brought on the neighbor of Japan there was great opposition from both outside and inside the country. In 2005 by an overwhelming majority (202-14) the Parliament of Japan changed the name and moved Greenery Day to May 4th.
There is still a lot of opposition from many groups to this name change but from what I have been able to gather it does not seem that the day is actually celebrated but used to signal the start of Golden Week in Japan, one of the vacation times in the country.
Through out the world April 28th is marked as Workers’ Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have died from work and labor injuries. This memorial day traces it’sorigins to the Canadian National Day of Mourning. The significance of the 28th of April in Canada goes back to 1914 when the Workers Compensation Act received it’s third reading, in 1984 the Canadian Labor Congress declared the National Day of Mourning and in 1990 it became an official national observance by Parliament. In the same year that Canada official recognized the observance the AFL-CIO also adapted the day as an observance day.
In 1996 the United Nations made the day a truly international day by lighting the Commemorative Candle and Incense for workers who had been killed, injured or became ill due to the work place. With theinspiration of the tragedy of the Kader toy factor fire they choose “Day of the Workplace”. In 2005 the process of marking the 28th of April as an official day of observation was started within the United Nations.
At present many countries through out the world mark the 28th of April including Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican, Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, French, Polynesia, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya,Kosovo , Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, San,Marino , Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South, Africa, South, Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United, Kingdom, Uruguay, United States of America, Venezuela, Yemen, and, Zimbabwe.
The 27th of April is celebrated in South Africa as Freedom Day. In 1994 elections where held that where the first to be inclusive of all the peoples of South Africa regardless of race. This vote was, in my opinion, was the largest victory of the struggle against Apartheid.
The day is still celebrated through out the country least people forget the struggle and sacrifice of all the people who fought for freedom. Events are organized to showcase the unity of the different ethnic and cultures of the area. It is hoped that people will celebrate the freedom they enjoy.
This years celebrations will center around Bisho in Eastern Cape Province, the capital of the province. Along with a fly by of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) and a speech delivered by Thabo Mibeki, the president, the people will also be able to see events featuring the full diversity of the culture emphasizing unity and reconciliation and the love of cultural performances celebrating the freedom of the country.
In Australia April 24th is the day to remember those who fought in Korea during the conflict in the ’50s. This day was chosen because it was the date of a battle fought by an Australian unit along with both a Canadian and United States unit, the Battle of Kapyong . They where out numbered considerably and the Regular Chines solders had very high moral but the three groups of solders stood their ground and bought time allowing for the regrouping of others. Because of these actions they where successful and is known as a turning point in the conflict.
The 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment received the United States Presidential Unit Citation, the highest award that a unit can receive in the United States and not given out often to those from other countries for their action during the Battle of Kapyong.
Wiki None dealing with this particular day.
On April 16th, 1862 President of the United States of America Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act. This act freed the the slaves of the District of Columbia as well as compensating the former owners with approximately $300 ($6,846.53 according to The Inflation Calculator) per slave. This was the only time that owners where compensated by the federal government and came nine months prior to the better known Emancipation Proclamation.
Emancipation Day was celebrated from 1866 to 1901 originally. Because of the hard work of Loretta Carter Hanes the day started to be celebrated again in 2002 and then in 2005 was made a public holiday in the District of Columbia.
It is celebrated by parades and demonstrations as well as school programs to help educate the school children.
The 15th of April marks the start of the Hindu calander and is known as Manuh Bihu.
In South Korea on April 14th a response to the couple related holidays is celebrated as Black Day. People who have not found a special someone celebrate by wearing dark colors and eating black noodle dishes. As with many holidays like this it was created by marketers but has taken off and celebrated by many.
I was unable to find anything that actually said how it was commemorated and I do not want to go into a lot of detail about what happened but will say there is much more to read about the soldiers who lost their lives during this ordeal.
So it would be nice to take a few minutes to remember those who suffered during war and gave their lives.
April 8th has been designated as International Day of the Roma. The Roma people (Gypsies) held the first world congress just outside London in 1971 where the official flag of the Roma people as a separate ethnic group was adopted as was the term Roma as the accepted name for their people. Representatives from many different countries attended including those of the former Soviet block. Six more conferences have been held since, not always having delegates from all the lands represented due to government interference, even so they have received formal recognition from the United Nations. It was at the conference held in 1990 that International Day of the Roma was adopted.
It appears that many of the Roma people do not know of this day but there are those in high positions who have come to support the people including Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama. The United Nations has upheld that the discrimination of these people must be recognized and combated. This has been so wide spread that there are no accurate statistics of the number of Roma as many chose to hide their ethnicity but it is well known that they live through out the world.
I was not able to find any real celebrations as such or traditions but I do hope that this changes in the future.