Postcards From Abroad

Not just another travel blog

All about the Holidays


Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are all still reeling from the effects of overindulging on Turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving is of course a strictly American holiday, created to honor when the pilgrims first discovered the turkey, who lead them to the native Americans, and food, or something like that.

So to honor this ambiguous, but uniquely American holiday, here are a few holidays that are celebrated strictly by the citizens of some of the countries we have discussed.

Ireland

St. Stephan’s Day

January 26th

This is a weird one. The day after Christmas the Irish celebrate St. Stephan’s day, and like our thanksgiving it’s roots and celebration have little in common. It started as a feast day in the catholic church, honoring, obviously, St Stephan, who was a martyr in the early days of the church. Now, as you would probably guess, the day is celebrated, namely by young boys, who blacken their faces with coal, and chase around a wren (a bird) until they kill it, or it dies of exhaustion. How it came to that is anyone’s guess.

Ghana

Founder’s Day

September 21st

This holiday is relatively new one, started in 2009 to mark the centennial birthday of the nation’s first president Kwame Nkrumah. It recently came to the spotlight again this September, when several world political figures, J. A Kufuor of Ghana, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Horst Kohler Republic of Germany. gathered for a short ceremony and conference discussing the life and works of Nkrumah, at his mausoleum.

Nkrumah was instrumental in the fight for Ghana’s independence from Great Britain in 1957, and served as president until 1972.

Belgium

The King’s Feast

November 15th

This holiday is a relic from the time when king’s and queens were in the ruling body of the state. Many countries have had similar holidays, but as monarchy was phased out, so was the (mandatory) celebration of the monarchs. In Belgium, the king and queen still exist, mostly for ceremonial reasons, and this day is set aside to honor them. The celebrations don’t go past a formal “Thank you” from Parliament, and a few church services.

Neal Hollowell

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