Chrysanthemum is the traditional flower of November

November 2018 Cultural Diversity Review

Cultural Diversity

November is a month of harvest festivals, some of the oldest holidays that date back to when ancient farming communities gathered to give thanks for a good harvest, essential in surviving the imminent harsh winter. This year, November has a very notable event on 11th, as many countries will mark the 100th anniversary of the guns falling silent on the western front marking the end of World War I – the war that was meant to end all wars. This event also caused huge political change across Europe, so this November, Latvia and Poland mark the centenary of their Independence Days.

Month info: The ninth month in the old Roman calendar. In Latin novem means “nine”. In Old English, November was known as Blotmonad – blood-month, as November was when the Anglo-Saxons slaughtered their livestock, so they had a source of food during winter.

Featured Holiday in November

November 22: Thanksgiving

The American tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621, when the pilgrims gave thanks for their first bountiful harvest in Plymouth Rock. The settlers had arrived in November 1620, founding the first permanent English settlement in the New England region.

This first Thanksgiving was celebrated for three days, with the settlers feasting with the natives on dried fruits, boiled pumpkin, turkey, venison and much more.

The celebration, however, was not repeated until many years later, when in 1789 George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a national holiday on Thursday 26 November that year – setting the precedent of the last Thursday in November. Despite this, the holiday was celebrated on different days from state to state and Thomas Jefferson later did away with the holiday. Thanksgiving didn’t become a nationwide holiday until President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863. Every year following, the President proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving.

Did you know?

Sarah Josepha Hale, writer of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’, led a 17 year campaign to get Thanksgiving declared a national holiday. Many letters she sent in that time were ignored, but a letter to Abraham Lincoln finally convinced him to declare Thanksgiving as a holiday in 1863.

Did you know?

The Plymouth settlers did not refer to themselves as ‘Pilgrims’. The majority of the settlers were dissidents who had broken away from the Church of England. They would have called themselves ‘separatists’ or ‘puritans’. It wasn’t until about 100 years later that the term ‘Pilgrims’ started to be commonly used to refer to the settlers.

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Notable Holidays in November

November 1: All Saints’ Day

The first recorded All Saints’ Day occurred on 13 May 609 CE when Pope Boniface IV accepted the Pantheon in Rome as a gift from the Emperor Phocas. The Pope dedicated the day as a holiday to honour the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs.

In 835 CE, during the reign of Pope Gregory III, the festival was moved to 1 November and was expanded to include the honouring of all saints.

It is likely that 1 November was intentionally chosen to replace the pagan feast of the dead, Samhain. The night before Samhain was a time when evil spirits roamed the land looking for humans. To confuse the spirits, people would dress up as creatures. This tradition carried on after 1 November became a Christian festival, hence the name of Halloween – which is a shortened version of All Hallows’ Eve.

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November 7: Diwali

Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama, who was the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, from a fourteen year exile.

The Festival of Lights takes place on the darkest night (first night of the new moon) in the month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar.

Across India streets and temples are decorated with spectacular light displays and colorful garlands.

In their homes, people light small oil lamps called diyas. It is believed that deceased relatives come back to visit their families on Earth during this festival and the lights are a way to guide the spirits home. The sound of firecrackers exploding is common as the noise is said to drive away evil spirits.

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November 11 – 12: Remembrance Day

One hundred years ago, on 11 November 1918, the armistice (peace agreement) was signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, ending the First World War.

The armistice took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning – the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

However, while this date is used to reflect the end of the whole war, it technically relates to the cease fire on the Western Front; fighting continued after 11th November in parts of the Ottoman Empire.

This day may be known as Armistice Day or Veteran Day and might be observed on Monday 12 November.

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November 20: Mawlid

This festival marks the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is purely a religious festival and is marked as a public holiday.

Prophet Muhammad was born on 12 Rabiulawal in 570 AD. His birthday is celebrated with religious lectures and recitals of verses from the Koran.

The basic earliest accounts for the observance of Mawlid can be found in 8th century Mecca, when the house in which Prophet Muhammad was born was transformed into a place of prayer.

Though public celebrations of the birth of Muhammad did not occur until four centuries after his passing away. The oldest Mawlid-text is claimed to be from the 12th century and most likely being of Persian origin.

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National Days in November

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

Nov 01 AlgeriaRevolution Day: Marks the start of the War of Independence in 1954
Nov 01 Antigua and BarbudaIndependence Day: Independence from the United Kingdom in 1981
Nov 03 DominicaIndependence Day: Independence from the United Kingdom in 1978
Nov 03 MicronesiaFSM Independence Day: Independence from the US-administered UN Trusteeship 1979
Nov 03 PanamaSeparation Day: Declaration of independence from Colombia 1903
Nov 04 TongaConstitution Day: In 1875, King George Tupou I consented to the constitution of the new nation of Tonga
Nov 09 CambodiaIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1953
Nov 09 MaldivesQaumee Dhuvas: Celebrates the victory over the Portuguese occupation in 1573
Nov 11 AngolaIndependence Day: Independence from Portugal in 1975
Nov 11 PolandIndependence Day: Commemorates the anniversary of Poland’s assumption of independent statehood in 1918.
Nov 15 Northern CyprusRepublic Day: Declaration of independence from the Cyprus in 1983
Nov 15 PalestinePalestine Independence Day: Independent state of Palestine was proclaimed in 1988
Nov 18 LatviaLatvian National day: Declaration of independence from Russia in 1918.
Nov 18 MoroccoIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1956
Nov 18 OmanNational Day: Two day holiday. Independence from Portugal in 1650.
Nov 19 MonacoNational Day: The investiture of Prince Albert II in 2005
Nov 22 LebanonIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1943
Nov 25 Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnian Republic Day: 1st session of the Council of National Liberation in 1943
Nov 25 SurinameIndependence Day: Independence from the Netherlands in 1975
Nov 28 AlbaniaIndependence Day: Dita e Pavarësisë. Declaration of independence from Ottoman rule in 1912
Nov 28 MauritaniaIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1960
Nov 30 BarbadosIndependence Day: Independence from the United Kingdom in 1966
Nov 30 ScotlandSt. Andrews Day: Patron saint of Scotland, now a bank holiday in Scotland

November Observances

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 organisation.

4thNational Candy DayAction: Bring your favorite candy to the office.
13thNational Indian Pudding DayRecipes: add your favorite Indian pudding recipe to your intranet.
19thInternational Men’s DayReading: Unlike Women’s Day, no country observes this a public holiday.
20thUniversal Children’s Day Discussion: What did you want to be when you grew up?
21stWorld Television Day  Discussion: What is your favourite TV series ever? And why?
23rdBuy Nothing DayChallenge: Can you? If you tried but failed, what did you have to buy?
30thComputer Security DayTask: Change your passwords!