October Holidays Around the World

 

October is unofficially known as the start of the “holiday season;” countries all over the world are holding festivities to celebrate a wide variety of holidays. From Mother’s Day in Malawi to Armed Forces Day in Egypt, there are any number of holidays to observe this October.

 

On October 3rd, you can throw up your hands and give a shout for Gaecheonjeol, also known as National Foundation Day. This South Korean holiday celebrates the founding of Gojoseon, the first Korean state, in 2333 BC. It was declared a national holiday in 1909 and the date was finally fixed on October 3rd in 1949. On this day, the Korean people are led by the head of state in a prayer service dedicated to the founding gods and the gods of the harvest. Afterward, they eat a traditional soup called Seolleongtang made from ox bones and cuts of beef.

 

October is Thanksgiving time, if you’re in Canada that is. Not to be outdone by Americans, our neighbors to the North have their own version of this holiday celebrated in October. The first Thanksgiving in Canada was observed in 1879 as a chance to give thanks over the many blessings bestowed on the Canadian people. The festivities and foods include parades, football games, and lots of turkey and pumpkin pie.

 

One of the most popular holidays in October is Oktoberfest. On October 12th, 1810, King Ludwig I married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and threw a party to celebrate in the fields (Wiesn) outside the gates of Munich. Oddly enough, the main attraction at this celebration was a horse race, not beer. In fact, beer didn’t make an appearance at Oktoberfest until 1892. Today, Oktoberfest has turned into a 16 to 18-day festival with over 6 million attendees who drink close to 7 million liters of beer each year.

 

In Thailand, on October 23rd, the people celebrate King Chulalongkorn Day. You may know him better as King Rama V, the fifth monarch of Siam. Born in 1868, he ruled (officially) from 1873 to his death in 1910. During his reign, he enacted several major reforms in education, military, and the railway. He is also responsible for abolishing slavery in Siam; a feat he accomplished without any bloodshed. The Thai people celebrate this holiday by placing wreaths and gathering around the various statues and monuments dedicated to this forward-thinking monarch.

 

Ever heard of the country of Nauru? It’s a small island in Micronesia that today hosts a population around 10,000. However, the native Nauru people have come close to extinction twice, with total populations falling below 1,500–considered the minimum needed to sustain a sub-population or race. To celebrate their twice miraculous return from the brink of extinction, they celebrate Angam Day on October 26th. In Nauruan, Angam translates into “celebration” or “coming home.”

 

Of course, you can’t mention holidays in October without mentioning Halloween. This holiday traces its roots back to Ireland and the ancient festival of Samhain, celebrated by the Celts to mark the end of the Harvest. The tradition of dressing up in costume to go trick-or-treating started in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales around the 16th century, but it wasn’t adopted widely in the US until the 20th century.

 

In between pulling your sweaters out of storage and ingesting pumpkin spice everything, take some time to celebrate all the amazing holidays around the world this October!

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