Celebrations World-Wide

As well as public holidays and religious feastdays thatfall on afixed date or in a particular period, certainanniversaries are regularly celebrated. This year, for example, marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Polish-born composer Fryderyk Chopin and is being celebrated as Chopin Year with special concerts and exhibitions. Recently, the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War wasobserved with speeches, military parades, patrioticassemblies andwreath-laying ceremonies. Let us now look at some of the holidays celebrated during autumn in different countries.

(31 October) is the short name for All Hallows' Eve (the night before All Saints Day). The tradition is of pagan Celtic origin and was taken to America by Irish emigrants where it developed into today' s fancy dress parties andtrick-or-treating. The symbol of the holiday is the jack-o' -lantern, apumpkin with a carved face and a candle inside. Halloween activities includebobbing for apples andplaying pranks.

(1-2 November) used to be two separate holidays, but because they are similar, today they are both connected withcommemorating the dead. The holiday is observed mainly in Catholic countries, especially in the Spanish-speaking world. In Poland the mood issombre, but in Mexico the dead are honoured in a festive atmosphere that includes music and partying. Gypsies have picnic lunches, drink wine and play music at the graves of their loved ones.

(3 November) St Hubert is the patron saint of hunters, so special hunts and similar activities are held on his day in different European countries.

(5 November) is observed in England and other Commonwealth countries in memory of the 1606gunpowder plot. Toavenge persecution of Catholics by the British government, Guy Fawkes tried to blow up King James I by putting gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament. But he failed. The bomb was discovered, and Guy Fawkes was caught and executed. Today aneffigy of Guy Fawkes is burnt in public to commemorate those events.

(11 November) was once celebrated in the United States and other countries asArmistice Day to mark the end of the Great War (1918). After the Second World War, it became a day to honour all American soldiers who had died defending their country. It is celebrated with military parades, religious services, wreath-laying andflag-raising ceremonies.

(11 November) marks the anniversary of Poland' sre-emergence as an independent state after 123 years ofpartitions. Though it was not allowed under communism (1944-1989), it is now celebrated with military parades, speeches, wreath-laying and family festivities.

(11 November) or St Martin' s Day honours the 4th-century bishop of Tours, France. It marked the last day parties could take place before the once 40-day period of Advent. In southern Europe it was the time to drink new wine and in northern Europe roast goose was eaten at banquets and family dinners.

, the Sunday closest to 11 November, is celebrated in Britain and other Commonwealth countries to commemorate soldiers who died in wars. Religious services and meetings are held in churches, halls and cemeteries.

(this year celebrated on 25 November) is a day Americans give thanks to God for His goodness andprovision. Some people go to special Thanksgiving services at church but nearly all families eat turkey for dinner with suchtrimmings as sweet potatoes,cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Some larger department stores sponsor Thanksgiving Day parades which start the Christmas shopping season.

is a roughly four-week period of spiritual preparation for Christmas. By aquirk of the calendar, this year the first Sunday of Advent falls on 28 November, a day before St Andrew' s Eve which it is supposed to follow.

(29 November) became the occasion for one last party when Advent was shortened from six to four weeks. Young people in particular enjoy music and dancing on that day. In Poland " Andrzejki" is celebrated with fortune-telling games. One custom is to pourmolten wax into a bowl of water. The shape the wax dries is supposed to say something about when and who a girl will marry.

(4 December) commemorates miners and others working with explosives. It is celebrated in the mining communities of Catholic countries with religious services and family festivities.

(6 December) is a favourite day of children in many countries who look forward to the arrival of the white-bearded bishop St Nicholas who rewards the well-behaved and punishes the naughty. The Dutch are the most faithful to that tradition and greet Sinterklaas with a parade when he arrives by ship in Amsterdam. In Holland there are even lawsforbidding shops and advertisers to display the American-style Santa Claus until after 6 December.

(13 December), honouring avirgin martyr murdered in AD 303, is celebrated especially in Sweden. The best-known symbol of the holiday are thecandle-lit head-wreaths worn by girls in parades on that day. To most Swedish children, St Lucy' s Day means that Christmas is only 11 days away.

Rob Strybel