World Religion Day

This day was initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i faith in the United States. The purpose was to call attention to the harmony of the world’s religions and emphasize that the aims of religion are to create unity among people, to ease suffering, and to bring about peace. The day is observed with gatherings in homes, public meetings and panel discussions, and proclamations by government officials. Discuss
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Rukmini Ashtami

Vaishnavite Hindus believe that Rukmini, Lord Krishna’s primary wife and queen, was born on this day. The fast known as Rukmini Ashtami is observed by women, both married and unmarried. Rukmini, Krishna, and Pradyumna, their son, are worshipped. A Brahman priest is also fed and given dan-dakshina, or charitable gifts, on this day. Many middle-class Hindus believe that observance of this fast ensures conjugal happiness and prosperity, and that it will help them find good husbands for unmarried girls. Discuss
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Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot

St. Anthony the Abbot was one of the earliest saints, and, if St. Athanasius’s biography of him is correct, Anthony lived more than 100 years (251-356). He eventually came to be regarded as a healer of animals as well as of people. His feast day is celebrated in Mexico and other parts of Latin America by bringing household pets and livestock into the churchyard, where the local priest blesses them with holy water. All the animals are carefully groomed and often decorated with ribbons and fresh flowers. In some Latin American cities, the Blessing of the Animals takes place on a different day—often on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Discuss
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Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

This extravaganza of ice sculptures takes place from January 5 through February in the port city of Harbin, the second largest city of northeast China, located in Heilongjiang Province. The sculptures, using themes of ancient legends and stories and modern historic events, depict pavilions, temples, and mythic animals and persons. Located in Zhaolin Park, they shimmer in the sun by day, and at night are illuminated in a rainbow of colors. Theatrical events, art exhibitions, and a photo exhibition mark festival time, and wedding ceremonies are often scheduled in the ice-filled park. Discuss
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Chilembwe Day

John Chilembwe was born in the 1860s in the African nation of Nyasaland, now known as Malawi. Dismayed by the treatment of local peoples at the hands of plantation owners, whom he charged with racism and exploitation, he and a group of 200 followers staged an uprising. They were caught and killed on February 3, 1915. Chilembwe is now memorialized as a hero for African independence and is celebrated annually on January 15 in Malawi, which attained its independence in 1964. His image on a Malawi banknote attests to his enduring popularity as a symbol of Malawi freedom and patriotism. Discuss
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