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Around 90 years ago the first president of the newly independent Turkey declared May 19th as Youth and Sports Day. In the present time this is the day that the Turks celebrate the man whom they refer to as the father of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who landed on May 19th 1919 to take command of the liberation effort.
During his time as president he declared May 19th as Youthand Sports Day, though I did not find why this was or how he thought it should be recognized. After his death people started to look to this day as when to remember Atatürk.
The day is celebrate in other parts of the world as well, a day to remember the Turkish heritage.
Most people living in the United States know that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday. What they do not realize is that it is not the Independence day of Mexico nor do they realize that it is celebrated much more across the United States then it is in Mexico.
The reason for celebrating May 5th is that it commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, some 52 years after Mexican Independence, where a French army was defeated by the Mexican army. The French, along with the British and Spanish, had landed forces looking to reclaim debts owned to them by the government of Mexico who had fallen on hard times due to a number of factors. The British and Spanish soon left, having made arrangements with the government but the French used the occasion to further their colonial expansion. Though the French did eventually take Mexico City and install their own ruler for a time. The victory by the Mexican forces did demonstrate that those of the new world would and could join together to defend themselves, this French defeat was the first in a very long time.
Today, in Mexico,the actual holiday is celebrated primarily in the State of Puebla with limited recognition in the rest of the country. However in the United States the 5th of May as continued to increase in popularity as a celebration on Mexican culture and heritage. Many cities now have both festivals and parades in the days prior to or on the 5th showcasing many Mexican traditions. It seems very interesting that for a day that is becoming more and more popular that deals with the heritage of the country the fact that most people think it is a completely different the celebration as well as it is not really celebrated much in it’s own country.
Until 1961, the Kingdom of the Netherlands recognized May 4th as a day to honor those who died for their country during World War II and titled it as “Remembrance of the Dead” day. After 1961 it was decided that all those who had died since the the outbreak of the war should be honored as well. Now no matter where the member of the armed forces may have died, if it was a war or peace keeping mission is remembered at 8:00 p.m. on the 4th of May.
Throughout the country as well as in other parts of the world, such as Saint Martin, people will gather at monuments or watch on tv the ceremonies. The largest of which is at the National Monument on the Dam, where 15,000 people will gather and over 3 million people will watch via television a program starting at 7:50 pm this year with the traditional 2 minutes of silence at 8:00 pm. During the day flags will have flown at half staff until after this time and will then be raised to the full height of the flag pole to the music of the Dutch national anthem. At the Dam a parade will begin at 8:18.
I was unable to find why this day and time have been chosen, the only clue I have is that the liberation of the Netherlands is the 5th of May which would make sense to me but I can not be sure if this is the reason or not.
Officile site (translated from Google)
The United Nations established May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day. This is to help keep the ideals of a free press in the minds of the people of the world and why this is important. The date was chosen due to the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek a statement of principles by African newspapers in 1991. The UN designated the World Press Freedom Day in 1993. Along with other activities the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize prize was established to be given to a group, individual or organization who has furthered the establishment of freedom of the press especially in a dangerous situation. The prize was named in honor of the director of “El Espector” who was gunned down in front of the offices by the drug cartels. In 2007, on the tenth anniversary of the murder, the prize was awarded in the town where he was killed, Medellin, Columbia.
The 2nd of May, as the birth day of Ki Hajar Dewantara, is known as Indonesia National Education Day. Born to a wealthy family with the name Raden Mas Soerjadi Soerjaningrat, he felt so strongly about the importance of being able to be amongst the rest of the population he dropped off the royal part of his name. When he was born, Indonesia was under the control of the Dutch who allowed education to only those who where of Dutch birth or from very wealthy families. For his out spoken criticism related to the treatment of the people of Indonesia he was exiled and stayed out of the country until 1918 when he and others returned to establish an institute for education. After Indonesia gained their independence he was named Minister of Education and since his death in 1959 the day has been marked to remember him and his contribution to the education of the people of his country.
The 1st of May has it’s fair share of celebrations associated with it from the well known Worker’s Day which saw the former Soviet Union parading their military might through Red Square to the lesser known counter holiday established in the United States as Loyalty Day. Of course people have celebrated May 1st for much a longer time then either of these countries have had a history.
I will be concentrating on the celebrations found in England though there are similar events that take place in many other areas including Scotland, Wales, areas of the United States. The history of the May Day celebrations go back to at least the Roman empire and perhaps the Celts of England. The time of year when the cold gives way to the warmth of summer the Romans held the festival to honor Flora, the goddess of flowers and fruit.
Many traditions have developed through the years most of which have their origins in pagan rites associated with coming of summer and everything that that indicates, such as fertility and the blooming of the plants. Early on the morning of the 1st children would head out to the woods to “go a-Maying” to collect flowers which they would use to decorate the houses and village. Another early morning ritual was for young girls to bath their faces in the morning dew to ensure that they would be beautiful for the following year. Revelry would fill the rest of the day including May Day Lift, the Crowning of the May Day Queen, parading around with May Day Garlands and of course the most famous tradition the Dancing of the May Poll.
The May Pole dance would be practiced for weeks before the festival around poles that would, in some cases, stand taller then the village church steeple. The tallest known was one in London in the Strand in 1661 when Charles II restored the tradition of the May Poll after the Puritans had banned the practice during their rule. The pole was 134 feet tall and lasted for 40 years before Sir Newton used it in the construction of observation equipment.