All Saints Day candles

All Saints' Day, 1 November

What:

After all the goblins, ghost and ghouls on Halloween, the next day is one of remembering the good saints.

All Saints' Day is a perfect opportunity for our children to learn about various saints and their good qualities and deeds.

Why:

Saints are believed to be holy people who are very close to God.

Christians believe that saints have special powers to help people and through their own actions, show us how to lead good lives and love all.

You can discuss with your children how each saint inspires them and how they would apply the lessons they learn from them in their own daily lives.

Now let's look at how this celebration originated.

Some people think it started as a feast day for martyrs on May 13. A martyr is someone who dies for his or her religious beliefs.

Another theory is that All Saints’ Day came from Ireland. The Irish often celebrate important feasts on the first day of the month.

Over the centuries, the celebration may have passed to England and then onto Europe.

Do you recognise any of these saints from stained glass windows you may have seen in churches.

How many saints do you and your children know?

Who:

Christians all over the world celebrate this festival.

When:

November 1 is the beginning of the Celtic winter, so it is possible that the feast of all saints occurred on the same day.

How:

People celebrate by going to church and lighting candles for the saints.

In some places, people bring flowers to cemeteries and clean the graves of their loved ones.

Here are some easy and fun tips for a celebration of All Saints' Day with your children.

Where:

In churches and cemeteries

 

Flowers and candles at Cemetry

All Souls' Day, 2 November

What:

This is a day for remembering and praying for the souls of people who have passed on.

Families get together, visit cemeteries, share memories of loved ones, and honour Christian traditions associated with the occasion.

Through prayers, masses, and charity, the living pay tribute to the dead and hope to help them enter into heaven.

Who:

Christians all over the world celebrate this festival.

When:

2 November following All Saints' Day

Why:

It is believed that the 10th century Catholic priest St. Odilo of Cluny chose the day to pray for the souls of deceased people who were waiting for their souls to be purified until they were worthy to enter heaven.

All Souls' Day started as a local feast in his monasteries. Over the centuries, the celebration spread around the world.

How:

In Mexico and parts of Latin America, All Souls' Day is known as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Ancestors, who have passed on, are welcomed as guests of honour and the day is celebrated in a very lively and colourful manner.

Did you know that in Germany, Catholics mark All Souls' Week from October 30 to November 8.

One of the traditions, during this time is to hide away all knives, so any spirits visiting for All Souls' do not injure themselves.

Austrians honour their dead relatives by leaving a light on during the night and leaving out bread and water for the spirits.

In Hungary, washing clothes is forbidden in case the spirit would stand in the water and turn the clothes yellow.

Sewing was also forbidden as the spirits could get hurt by the needles.

In England and America, people bake Soul cakes.

The cake got its name from the fact that children would go 'souling', on this day, singing from house to house for some of these tasty cakes.

If you'd like to learn the song, here are the words to it.

Maybe you would like to celebrate like the Italians by baking cookies called 'fave dei morti'.

What interesting All Souls' Day traditions do you know? We'd be very interested to hear something from your culture. Do write and tell us.

 

Golden temple in India

Birthday of Guru Nanak 8 Nov

What:

An important festival for the Sikh community is the birthday of Guru Nanak, their first spiritual leader.

Sikhs are originally from India. Many migrated abroad and today, there are Sikh communities all over the world including in Britain.

11 year old Simran is a Sikh girl living in the UK. She introduces herself and her family.

Many Sikhs wear turbans. Find out its symbolism.

Simran introduces Sikhism

Who:

Sikhs all over the world celebrate this festival.

When:

Guru Nanak was born in April 1469.

His birth anniversary, however, is celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month of Kartik (November-December).

This year, it falls on November 8 and is celebrated over two days.

Why:

The festival is an occassion to meditate upon Guru Nanak's teachings which remind us that God is one and loves us all.

Sikh philosophy teaches all to live honestly and love and care for others. 

How:

Sikhs gather at their temples, called gurdwaras, and listen to a 48-hour uninterrupted reading of the Sikh scripture called the Guru Granth Sahib.

They also sing hymns, listen to spiritual talks based on their holy scripture and eat together. 

Where:

In Gurudwaras which are Sikh temples

Travel to Amritsar in India to see the famous Golden Temple of the Sikhs.

 

Flower boat in water

Loy Krathong 8 November

What:

In November in Thailand, the main rice harvest season has ended.

It is now time to thank the Water Goddess and the Buddha for a year of plentiful rain and water.

It is also a time to let go of all the anger and grudges that people have held the past year. 

This is the symbolism of the spectacular Loy Krathong festival, also known as the Festival of Lights.

The word 'Loy' in Thai means 'to float' and 'Krathong' means 'lotus shaped boat'.

Who:

Thais and people who follow Thai culture in neighbouring countries.

When:

The festival takes place on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month when the water level is high and the weather is cool.

How:

Cities come alive with light, music and celebrations with grand processions. Paper lanterns are released into the sky.

Elaborate boats of various shapes like dragons are floated onto the water. Smaller handmade boats 'krathongs' are made of pieces of banana

trunk.

They are decorated with flowers and candles. People put offerings of food and money in them for the gods.

Many place fingernails or a lock of hair in the boats as a symbol of letting go of negative feelings and starting life afresh.

Would you like to learn how to make a "krathong"? 

Would you also like to make a list of negative things you would like to let go? And what does 'starting afresh' mean to you in your life?

Where:

At home, on the streets, along the banks of rivers and the rivers where the boats are floated.

 

Japan shinto temple

Shichi-go-san (7-5-3) 15 Nov

What:

Like in all world cultures, children and their upbringing are central aspects of Japanese family life.

The unusual name of this festival is explained quite simply as a celebration for children aged 7, 5 and 3.

These ages are chosen as odd numbers are considered auspicious in Japanese numerology.

Who:

The Japanese

How:

On this festival, little girls wear beautiful and colourful kimonos and the boys wear haoris and hakamas.

They go with their parents to a local Shinto shrine where the atmosphere is happy and festive. They pray to Ujigami, the Shinto guardian godof good health to pray for their well-being.

The children get carry balloons and get candies which are called 'one thousand year old candies' symbolising a long, healthy and happy life.

The celebration is rounded off with a family feast.

Why:

The Shichi-go-san custom began amongst court nobles of the Heian period in the eighth century when child and infant mortality was high.

Families participated in the Shinto purification ceremony to pray for a long and happy life for their children.

With time, the custom began to be observed by all Japanese people and has become a part of mainstream culture.

You can see how this colourful celebration fits perfectly in autumn when all of nature in Japan looks just as vibrant.

 

Advent wreath and candles

Advent 27 November

What:

Advent is the joyous preparation for the birth and coming of the Jesus Christ.

With wreaths, candles, calendars and joyful hearts, we all look forward to the coming of Christmas.

Who:

Christians around the world

Why:

The meaning of the word “Advent” which comes from the Latin “adventus,” meaning “coming” or “arrival” of Christ.

So, Advent helps us remember what Christmas is about and helps us prepare for it.

This is how Brother Francis explains it. You will enjoy listening to him.

How:

The tradition is to light four candles, one on each Sunday before Christmas.

The candles represent the four weeks of Advent and signify hope, love, joy, and peace.

Three of the candles are purple signifying a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice. The pink candle is called "the shepherd's candle" and signifies joy.

Would you like to find out what the candles are called?

The candles are placed in the Advent wreath which are made of evergreen leaves from fir, cedar, holly, juniper or pine.

Here's how you can make an easy construction paper wreath.

An Advent calendar is a wonderful way to do the count-down to Christmas and also get a little surprise every day.

Happy Advent!