February 2023 Cultural Diversity Update

Cultural Diversity

Whether or not February is a busy month for holidays and festivals rather depends on the phases of the Moon. For instance, this year, the second new moon after December 21st takes place on January 22nd, which means that February misses out on the prestigious Lunar New Year holidays.

Month info: February gets it name from the the Roman purification ritual ‘Februa’ held on February 15th. With only 28 days, February was known in welsh as ‘y mis bach’ – the little month. February was the last month to be added to the calendar by the Romans and was the last month of the year, so it was always shorter to account for the inaccuracy in the calendar in those days. It only got a 29th day in leap years in 46 BC under the Julian Calendar reforms.

Feb 11: Japan: National Foundation Day

This is a national holiday for Japanese people to remind themselves of the nation’s founding and foster their love for the nation.

It marks the traditional date on which according to legend Emperor Jimmu founded Japan in 660 BC. In January 1873, the day of the enthronement of Emperor Jinmu, the first Japanese emperor, was made a national holiday and named Kigen-setsu. February 11th 660 BC was determined as the day of enthronement by calculating the date in the solar calendar corresponding to the date recorded in the Chronicles of Japan, Japan’s first history compiled on imperial orders.

However, many historians now believe that Emperor Jinmu’s enthronement, as described in the Chronicles, was probably not a historical fact but merely folklore.

This holiday was abolished after World War II, however, there were so many compliants about its removal that in 1966 the day was reinstated as a national holiday, renamed as National Foundation Day.

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Feb 6: New Zealand: Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day is New Zealand’s national day. It is a holiday held annually on February 6th to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – New Zealand’s founding document – on February 6th 1840.

The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Māori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British citizens.

The treaty was signed by a group of Maori chiefs and the British Government, as represented by Lieutenant-Governor Hobson.

There are significant differences between the Māori and English language versions of the Treaty, and since 1840 the question of what obligations the Treaty of Waitangi placed on each side has been a subject of contention ever since.

In the last 25–30 years the style and mood of the commemorations have been influenced by the increasingly heated debate surrounding the status of the Treaty of Waitangi in modern-day New Zealand.

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Feb 18: Israa & Mi’raj Night

Israa & Mi'rja Night

Isra and Mi’raj Night marks the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and ascent into heaven, sometime around the year 621, according to Islamic belief.

The details come from the Quran and other teachings from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The Night Journey starts with the appearance of the angel Gabriel who takes the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Jerusalem on a winged horse.

In Jerusalem, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) met and prayed with many prophets including Moses, Abraham and Jesus. This part of the journey is known as ‘Isra’.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was then carried by Gabriel to heaven, ascending through the seven heavenly realms until he reached paradise where he spoke to god.

This second part of the journey is known as the Mi’raj, which means ladder in Arabic.

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Feb 20: President’s Day

The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington’s birthday in 1796 (the last full year of his presidency). Washington, according to the calendar that has been used since at least the mid-18th century, was born on Feb 22nd 1732. According to the old style calendar in use back then, however, he was born on Feb 11th. In 1796, many Americans celebrated his birthday on the 22nd while others marked the occasion on the 11th instead.

Then along came Abraham Lincoln, another revered president and fellow February baby (born on Feb 12th). The first formal observance of his birthday took place in 1865, the year after his assassination, when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address. While Lincoln’s Birthday did not become a federal holiday like George Washington’s, it did become a legal holiday in several states.

In 1968, the observation of Washington’s Birthday was shifted to the third Monday in February each year whether or not it fell on the 22nd.

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Feb 22: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent in the Western church and takes place 46 days before Easter. 

It takes places immediately after the excesses of the two days of Carnival that take place in Northern Europe and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The name of the day comes from the custom that churchgoers are marked on the forehead with a cross of ash to symbolise death and regret for past sins. 

Traditionally the ashes are created from burning the palms used in the church on Palm Sunday the previous year. Palm Sunday marked the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem after his 40 days and nights in the desert.

During the 40 days before Easter, Roman Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures, including the consumption of meat. This is intended to remember the fasting of Jesus, who spent 40 days in the desert before beginning his ministry. 

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February is Black History Month

Black History Month in the USA

Video Backgrounds for February

11. National Foundation Day
14. Valentines Day
6. Waitangi Day

Why not brighten up your video conference calls with one of our video backgrounds that highlight a notable day or festival taking place during February?

National Days in February

15 countries have their national days in February. How many people in the company do you know from each country? Remember to wish them a happy national day!

Feb 04Sri LankaIndependence Day: Marks independence from British rule in 1948
Feb 06New ZealandWaitangi Day: Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840
Feb 07GrenadaIndependence Day: Independence from the United Kingdom on 7 February 1974
Feb 11IranRevolution Day: Marks overthrow of the Shah and Ayatollah Khomeini taking power in 1979
Feb 11JapanNational Foundation Day: Marks the day on which according to legend Emperor Jimmu founded Japan in 660BC
Feb 11Vatican CityLateran Treaty Day: Marks an agreement with the Kingdom of Italy in 1929
Feb 15SerbiaStatehood Day of the Republic of Serbia: The beginning of the Serbian revolution against Ottoman rule in 1804
Feb 16LithuaniaLithuanian State Reestablishment Day: Independence after German occupation in World War I
Feb 17LibyaRevolution Day: The revolution against El-Gazafi
Feb 18GambiaIndependence Day: Independence Day, from the United Kingdom in 1965
Feb 23BruneiNational Day: Brunei gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984
Feb 23GuyanaRepublic Day: Also known as Mashramani, republic 1970
Feb 24EstoniaIndependence Day: Memorial day of the 1848 Revolution against the Austrian empire
Feb 25KuwaitNational Day: marks the creation of Kuwait as a nation in 1961
Feb 27Dominican RepublicIndependence Day: Independence from Haiti in 1844

There is a Day for That!

Throughout the month, there are days set aside to observe all sorts of events, some serious and some not so serious. These days can provide interesting ways to engage employees in diversity issues. The table below shows a selection of these days with some ideas how you could use them within your organization.

2ndGroundhog DayThe most eagerly awaited rodent-based weather forecast of the year has a surprising link to old European customs.
13thWorld Radio DayA day to raise greater awareness among the public and the media on the importance of radio.
14thValentine’s DayDid you know there are three different saints named Valentine recognized by the Catholic Church? Valentine may not be the luckiest of names, as all three of the saints are martyrs.
17thNational Random Acts of Kindness DayAction: Try to do one act of kindness today.
20thNational Love Your Pet DayPhoto competition: Who can post the most adorable photo of their pet?
21stInternational Mother Language Day  Poll: How many languages do you speak?
25thNational Chili DayFood: Who doesn’t like a good Chili? Why not share your best recipe?

View all global observances in February 2023