There’s nothing we love more than learning. Especially when it comes to learning about the people and the communities that live around our Early Learning Centres. There are so many interesting cultural holidays and celebrations that people take part in throughout the year. In this article, we’re going to look at Holi, Diwali, Eid and Ramadan. We’ll explore what’s unique about each of these holidays and learn why and how people celebrate them every year.
Let’s begin with Ramadan, which means ‘scorching heat’ in Arabic. Ramadan is a religious festival celebrated by Muslim communities who observe this sacred time by fasting for an entire month. This means not eating or drinking anything from dawn until sunset every day, which helps with self-discipline and allows more time for prayer and reflection. Large meals before sunrise and after sunset sustain those observing Ramadan, and members of the community who are older, unwell or very young aren’t expected to join in on the fasting. Of all Muslim holidays and celebrations, Ramadan is considered to be the holiest month of the year. As you can imagine, there’s no better way to bring a month-long fast to an end, than with a delicious banquet, full of food, family and friends. Muslim people call this celebration Eid.
Directly translated, Eid means ‘festival’ or ‘feast’. Eid is a time for community gatherings, where families and friends visit one another and celebrate the end of their fast by eating together. Every member of the community looks forward to Eid, not just because of the feasts and celebrations, but also because it’s a time where families who don’t live nearby usually travel to celebrate the holiday together. There are two main Eids in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Fitr, also referred to as the ‘Smaller Eid’, is a three-day celebration that marks the end of the month of Ramadan or fasting. It’s an opportunity for Muslims to reflect on what they’ve achieved over the month of Ramadan and celebrate the year ahead of them. It’s also a time when they’re encouraged to give to charity. This is known as Zakat al-Fitr, and it exists so the poor can join in the Eid celebrations.
The second Eid is called Eid al-Adha, also known as ‘Greater Eid’, which comes after the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Eid al-Adha is a ceremony where Muslims travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform a series of sacred rituals. Every Muslim believer is expected to have undergone the pilgrimage and visited Mecca at least once in their lives if they’re financially and physically able to. This is because Mecca is seen as the most deeply spiritual destination within the Muslim faith.
Eid is one of the largest times of celebration on the Muslim calendar, and is especially enjoyed by Muslim children who look forward to dancing along to local music and tucking into banquets full of local food, and of course, loads of cakes and home-made sweets.
Of all the holidays and celebrations, this is probably the most colourful. The Holi festival is a joy-filled religious event observed by Hindu communities to celebrate and usher in Springtime. The festival originates from India, and represents new beginnings and fresh starts. The Holi festival gives Hindu people an opportunity to start the new year afresh, leaving their bad choices and habits in the past.
The Holi festival begins with the lighting of a big bonfire. This is symbolic of getting rid of all anything bad and giving way to a colourful and positive future. The festival only gets more fun from here…
Arguably the most popular part of Holi festival is the colour celebration. An event where participants throw multicoloured powder dye into the air, resulting in hundreds of people being covered from head to toe in vibrant colour. The event represents the ushering in of a lively, colourful new life. It’s a truly spectacular sight to behold.
Part of the Holi celebration is washing the coloured dye off, which also represents a sense of cleansing, washing away the past and stepping into the future with a clean slate. And although the colours get washed away, the memories of an amazing, fun-filled Holi festival last forever.
Another interesting mark on the yearly holidays and celebrations calendar is Diwali, or ‘the festival of lights’. Diwali is a five-day festival between October and November, mostly celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. The festival represents new beginnings for those celebrating it, and tells the enchanting story of good triumphing over evil and light overcoming darkness. It’s a time when people look into the future with a great sense of positivity and hope.
Diwali gets its name from the Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’ meaning ‘rows of lighted lamps’. Over Diwali people decorate their homes, businesses and public spaces with small oil lamps, which are known as ‘diyas’. Diwali really is a celebration of light, as Hindu communities put on fireworks shows where everyone is invited. They also celebrate by making traditional sweet treats and sharing them with the communities around them – including neighbours of different faiths, who aren’t necessarily celebrating the festival themselves.
Celebrating what makes us unique
Part of what makes us all so unique is each of our different cultures and beliefs. Holidays and celebrations like Ramadan, Eid, Holi and Diwali are reminders of the vibrant cultures within our communities. These fascinating holidays are observed by so many Child’s Play families. At Child’s Play, we believe in celebrating all the things that make us unique, and learning more about the people and cultures within our communities every day.