Roses are the traditional flower of June

June 2020 Cultural Diversity Review

Cultural Diversity

In the Northern Hemisphere, June is a summer month when individual vacations start to take precedence over wondering when the next public holiday. This year that is especially so as many countries will emerge from their COVID-19 travel lockdowns this month. However there are still some important and diverse festivals and holidays taking place. June begins with the major Christian holiday of Whit Monday, which marks the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames to the Apostles.

Month infoProbably the name is derived from the latin word ‘iuvenis‘ which means youngbut it is also linked to the goddess Juno who personifies young women.

Featured Holiday in June

June 1st: Whit Monday

Whit Monday marks the end of the Easter cycle, that began 90 days ago with Ash Wednesday at the start of Lent.

It gets its English name for following “Whitsun”, the day that became one of the three baptismal seasons. The name “Whitsunday” is now generally attributed to the white garments formerly worn by the candidates for baptism on this feast. 

The day commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames to the Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament in Acts, 2.

The Holy Spirit allowed the apostles to speak in other languages, and they started preaching the word of Jesus to the Jews who come to Jerusalem for the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). Saint Peter then delivered the first Christian sermon, which led to the conversion and baptism of 3,000 people. Many Christians recognize this event as the birth of the Church.

Based on the Holy Spirit bringing understanding and wisdom to the Apostles, some argue that Whitsunday may have its origins in the Anglo-Saxon word “wit”, meaning “understanding”.

Read more about Whit Monday

Notable Holidays in June

June 1: International Children’s Day

The origin of this holiday goes back to 1925, when representatives from different countries met in Geneva, Switzerland to convene the first “World Conference for the Wellbeing of Children”.

After the conference, some governments around the world designated a day as Children’s Day to highlight children’s issues. There was no specific date recommended, so countries used whatever date was most relevant to their culture.

The date of June 1st is used by many ex-Soviet countries as ‘The International Day for Protection of Children’ was established on June 1st 1950 following the Women’s International Democratic Federation’s congress in Moscow that took place in 1949.

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June 12: Russia Day

The National Day of the Russian Federation, Russia Day commemorates the formal adoption, on June 12th 1990 of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation which declared Russia’s “independence” from the USSR.

Since 1991, this holiday in the world’s largest country has changed its name twice. It was originally called ‘Independence Day’, though it was not a national holiday.

In 1994 Boris Yeltsin declared it a national holiday. The day was renamed to the catchy ‘Day of the adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation’ with the intention of commemorating the renewed independence of the country.

On February 1st 2002, it was officially renamed to Russia Day.

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June 25: Dragon Boats Festival

Legend has it that the holiday honors the tragic death of Chu Yuan, who died in 288 BC. At the time of Warring States, Chu Yuan was a poet and the minister of the state. The King was captured during fighting and in honor and remembrance of the old King, Chu Yuan wrote a poem called “Li Soa.” This angered the new King, who ordered Chu Yuan into exile. Instead of leaving his beloved country, Chu Yuan threw himself into the Mi-Lo River.

The legend proclaims that the people tried to rescue their honored statesmen by chasing him down the river, beating drums to scare away the fish and throwing dumplings into the river so that the fish would not eat his body. Today’s celebrations symbolize the vain attempts of the friends and citizens who raced down the river to save Chu Yuan.

Today’s celebrations symbolize the vain attempts of the friends and citizens who raced down the river to save the respected Chu Yuan.

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June 29: Saint Peter and Paul Day

The day commemorates the martyrdom of two saints, the two great Apostles, Saint Peter and St. Paul, assigned by tradition to the same day of June in the year 67.

Peter was the leader of the apostles and the first pope. Paul was born Saul, but converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus.

They had been imprisoned in the infamous Mamertine Prison of Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. It is said that they were martyred at the command of Emperor Nero.

Even though they were killed on the same day, their method of execution would have differed.

Saint Peter was crucified, whereas Saint Paul would have been beheaded with a sword as he was a Roman citizen and afforded a quicker execution.

It is said of Peter that he was crucified head downward as he didn’t feel worthy of being crucified in the same way as Jesus.

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National Days in June

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

SatJun 01SamoaIndependence Day: On 1 January 1962 Western Samoa became independent of New Zealand
SunJun 02ItalyRepublic Day: Festa della Repubblica. Italy is voted a republic in 1946
WedJun 05DenmarkConstitution Day: Grundlovsdag
ThurJun 06SwedenNational Day: Commemorates the election of King Gustav Vasa in 1523, seen as the foundation of Sweden
MonJun 10PortugalPortugal Day: Commemorates the death of Luís de Camões on June 10, 1580
TuesJun 12PhilippinesIndependence Day: Araw ng Kalayaan. Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1898
TuesJun 12RussiaRussia Day: Declaration of sovereignty in 1990, (law priority over Soviet Union laws)
SunJun 17IcelandNational Day: Founding of republic and dissolution of personal union with Denmark 1944
ThurJun 21GreenlandUllortuneq: Longest Day of the Year. The National Day was introduced in 1983 as part of Home Rule
SatJun 23LuxembourgLuxembourg National Day: The official birthday of the Grand Duke
MonJun 25MozambiqueIndependence Day: Independence from Portugal 1975
MonJun 25SloveniaStatehood Day: Commemorates independence from Yugoslavia in 1991
TuesJun 26MadagascarIndependence Day: Marks independence from France in 1960 after 64 years of colonial rule.
WedJun 27DjiboutiNational Day: Independence from France in 1977 after the third referendum on independence
FriJun 29SeychellesNational Day: On 29 June 1976, the Seychelles became a republic within the Commonwealth
SatJun 30D.R. CongoIndependence Day: Independence from Belgium in 1960

Zoom into June!

Zoom Background for Republic Day

Want to avoid the stigma of having your bookcase judged by your colleagues, but also want to celebrate cultural diversity? Well, you are in luck – during June there are several national days and notable festivals and we have made some free virtual backgrounds for these days. Just check the date of the holiday and follow the simple instructions to add the images to Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

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.

5thWorld Environment Day What more could your company do for the environment?
6thNational Running DayActivity: How many steps can you do in one day?
14thNational Flag DayAction: Set your desktop background or Zoom background to your national flag.
15thNational Beer DayComment: What’s your favorite beer?
21stInternational Day of Yoga Poll: Do you do Yoga or any form of mindfulness? Would you recommend it to colleagues?
26thNational Chocolate Pudding DayCookery: Share your favorite Chocolate Pudding recipe