Chrysanthemum is the traditional flower of November

November 2021 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 also hosts the famous Hindu festival of Diwali and the birthday of the founder of one of the world’s great religions; Sikhism.

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 25: 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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All Saints' Day

Nov 1: All Saints’ Day

The first recorded All Saints’ Day occurred on 13 May 609 CE when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the day as a holiday to honor 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 honoring of all saints.

It is likely that 1 November was intentionally chosen to replace the pagan feast of 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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Nov 4: Diwali

The Festival of Lights is known as Deepavali (deep – lamp, vali – array). This is the name of the festival in Southern India and is how the festival is referred to in other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. In Northern India, it is more commonly known as Diwali, but they are essentially the same celebration.

In these countries and for Hindus around the world, the celebration revolves around the triumph of good over evil, purity over impurity, light over darkness. It is one of the most important Hindu festivals.

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Remembrance Day

Nov 11: Remembrance Day/Veterans Day

On November 11th 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.

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Nov 19: Guru Nanak’s Birthday

Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of Sikhism and the first Sikh Guru, was born on April 15th 1469 at Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present district of Shekhupura (Pakistan), now Nanakana Sahib.

Guru Nanak’s religious ideas developed from both Hindu and Islamic thought, but are more than a simple synthesis. Nanak was an original spiritual thinker and he expressed his thoughts and ideas in poetry that forms the basis of Sikh scripture.

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National Days in November

22 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 04TongaConstitution Day: In 1875, King George Tupou I consented to the constitution of the new nation of Tonga
Nov 09CambodiaIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1953
Nov 11AngolaIndependence Day: Independence from Portugal in 1975
Nov 11PolandIndependence Day: Commemorates the anniversary of Poland’s assumption of independent statehood in 1918.
Nov 15Northern CyprusRepublic Day: Declaration of independence from the Cyprus in 1983
Nov 15PalestinePalestine Independence Day: Independent state of Palestine was proclaimed in 1988
Nov 18LatviaLatvian National day: Declaration of independence from Russia in 1918.
Nov 18MoroccoIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1956
Nov 18OmanNational Day: Two day holiday. Independence from Portugal in 1650.
Nov 19MonacoNational Day: The investiture of Prince Albert II in 2005
Nov 22LebanonIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1943
Nov 25Bosnia & Herz.Bosnian Republic Day: 1st session of the Council of National Liberation in 1943
Nov 25SurinameIndependence Day: Independence from the Netherlands in 1975
Nov28AlbaniaIndependence Day: Declaration of independence from Ottoman rule in 1912
Nov 28MauritaniaIndependence Day: Independence from France in 1960
Nov 30BarbadosIndependence Day: Independence from the United Kingdom in 1966
Nov 30ScotlandSt. Andrews Day: Patron saint of Scotland, now a bank holiday in Scotland


Test your colleague’s knowledge by using our diversity backgrounds during video conference calls. Will they know which country or festival you are celebrating?

November Backgrounds
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November Diversity Backgrounds

Diversity Cookbook

Food is an integral part of so many festivals and holidays. As making and sharing food is a great and tasty way of increasing understanding of these celebrations, every month we will feature a recipe that can be made to help celebrate a key holiday.


Bhai Bij is a Hindu holiday celebrating siblings’ duties and blessings for each other. Traditionally brothers will give their sisters gifts and blessings and in return sisters will invite their brothers for a meal or make them sweets. Among those foods is Basundi, a sweetened milk based dessert that can be served hot or cold.Make it now!

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.

4thNational Candy DayAction: Bring your favorite candy to the office.
11thVeteran’s DayQuiz: Test your knowledge about this American federal holiday.
19thInternational Men’s DayReading: Unlike Women’s Day, no country observes this a public holiday.
20thUniversal Children’s DayDiscussion: What did you want to be when you grew up?
21stWorld Television Day Discussion: What is your favorite TV series ever? And why?
25thThanksgivingQuiz: Test your knowledge about this American federal holiday.
30thComputer Security DayTask: Change your passwords!

For all global observances in November 2021, visit