November is coming upon us and as much as the month of November is an unlikely favorite months of all, there are quite a few events and holidays taking in November we should look forward to.
For once, there’s Thanksgiving in USA – the holiday that for many Americans is considered to be more favorite and beloved than even Christmas, which always falls on the last Thursday of the month. This year Thanksgiving is taken place on on November 27, 2014.
But just before the November festivities come around, there’s Halloween, a very popular American holiday, which has been getting quite some attention from other countries. It is now celebrated in Germany, Italy, France, Russia, Asia, Canada, and South America – just to name a few. However, some countries have their own “dark force” and “spooky” celebrations, which you might not be aware of, so before celebrating the American Halloween and embarking on your November travels, let’s see where else you can meet the “devils” and “dead”.
Festivities: Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Date: November 1, 2
Mexico’s Carnivalesque remembrance of departed souls is one of the most familiar Mexican festivals aside from Cinco de Mayo.
Its papier-mâché skeletons and candy skulls are a great part of the festivities and they are as recognizable to the public around the world as carved pumpkins and St. Patrick’s leprechauns.
This day when Mexicans gather with families and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died is viewed by many as a very unique way to celebrate the dead souls because these festivities are very colorful, which is very common to the Latin American culture where colors play an essential role in the culture. Other countries might find it relatively strange because of a different standing towards the activities that have to do with the deceased family and friends. Either way, it’s quite an interesting holiday and a must see. Read more here.
If you can’t be in Oaxaca this November, but still want to experience this holiday to some degree, you can do it in San Francisco, CA. Find out how here.
Festivities: La Diablada
Date: The week leading to November 5
The Diablada or Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils), is a dance characterized by the mask and devil suit worn by the performers, while women wear multilayered dresses and bowler hats. The dance is a mixture of religious theatrical presentations brought from Spain and Andean religious ceremonies such as the Llama llama dance in honour of the Uru god Tiw (protector of mines, lakes, and rivers), and the Aymaran miner’s ritual to Anchanchu (a demon spirit of caves and other isolated places in Bolivia andPerú).
The origins and sense of patrimonial identity of this dance has been a matter of dispute between authorities and historians of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. While Peruvian and Chilean authorities claim that the dance is proper of tripartite regional identity, Bolivia’s former Culture Minister Pablo Groux claims that the dance should solely be considered Bolivian. There is a style of dance proper of Ecuador named Diablada pillareña. According to one version of events, the horned parade hits the streets in remembrance of the departure of the devilish conquistadors in the late 19th century.
The La Diablada festival on the banks of legendary Lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru, may appear to be some strange devil worshiping carnival but is in fact a way for the locals to pay their respects to the ancient spirits of Lake Titicaca and celebrate Puno’s liberation from the much hated Spanish in the 19th century. Tourists who are not aware of the festival when taveling to Peru, might be a bit shocked by all the local residents all dressed up in elaborate demonic costumes following an incarnation of the Dark Lord himself in a huge crazy procession, whilst dancing the Diablada (Dance of Devils) like they’ve all been possessed. Over the course of a week in November, there is much drinking and dancing with November 5th being the day of the parade, led by Peru’s very own version of the Devil.
This festival should not be confused with another sort of Devilish festival – The festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria that takes place in February.
Read more here.
Festivities: Melbourne Cup
Date: November 4, 2014
Wouldn’t you like a good fun horse race?
Melbourne Cup might be one of the biggest events in Melbourne for what the locals know. As a matter of fact, it’s considered to be Australia’s biggest horse race. So, if you like horse racing and a festival atmosphere, Melbourne is the place to be in early November. The Melbourne Cup is so popular in Australia it’s been called “the race that stops a nation,” with more than 100,000 people watching it live at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Other events around the race include a parade and three other major races within a week. The Melbourne Cup is held the first Tuesday in November each year, which in 2013 is November 5th. Read more here.
Festivities: Fete Gede
Date: November 1, 2
The Voodoo festival of Fete Gede is the “Festival of the Dead”.
In Haitian Vodou, the Guédé are the family of Loa that embody the powers of death andfertility. Guédé spirits include Ghede Doubye, Ghede Linto, Ghede Loraj, Ghede Masaka, Guédé Nibo, Guédé Plumaj, Guédé Ti Malis, and Guédé Zaranye. All are known for the drum rhythm and dance called the “banda”. In possession, they will drink or rub themselves with a mixture of clairin (raw rum) and twenty-onehabanero or goat peppers. At the Fête Ghede all boons granted by the Ghede must be repaid by this date or they will take their vengeance on you.
Festivities: Pushkar Camel Fair
Date: October 30-November 6, 2014
The Camel Fair in Pushkar – a city in Rajasthan, India – is one of the largest camel fairs in the world. The Pushkar Camel Fair annually gathers people who want to buy or sell camels. Over the years, it has also become a tourist attraction, so that there are now more spectators than there are camels. A camel race kicks off the event, which is particularly fun to watch. The dates of the Pushkar Fair vary each year, as they coincide with the Hindu calendar, but they usually fall in late October or early November. Read more here.
Festivities: Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night
Date: November 5, 2014
It is one of the most famous bonfire nights in Great Britain and it’s mostly celebrated only in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. Read more here.
Rocca Canterano, Italy
Festivities: Festa del Cornuto (Festival Of The Horned One)
If you thought that only in your country “wearing horns” means betrayal. It’s not. In Italy “horns” are also a metaphor for having been cheated on by a partner. As a matter of fact, “horns” has become an unofficial symbol of betrayal around the world, but only in Italy there’s a festivity dedicated to such unfaithful situation that takes place in the Southern Italy every November. It is thought that the term dates from the Roman empire, when heroic soldiers returning from battle were given horns as a prize, but may have come back to find defeat in their own beds. The gesture of the horned hand is meant to convey that a person is being cheated on by his other half.
Rolling down the main street on allegorical floats, costumed actors recite satirical compositions about the whole ugly business of betrayals and bust-ups. And American people as no other people should be aware of this festival because this festival has an unofficial patroness – America’s Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, has been lucky enough to hold the title. As long as you have a good sense of humor, being an American you might find this association a bit awkward, but just so that you know, Italians do not try to disrespect or offend anyone.
Festivities: Pirate Festival
Location: George Town Harbour, Grand Cayman
Date: November 6-16, 2014
Here’s where you “Pirates in the Caribbean” favorite characters can come alive. The only festival to take place on all three of the Cayman isles, the Pirate Festival is geared towards infant swashbucklers. The ten-day festivities of music, competitions, parade, sports, kids activities, dances, costumes, games and controlled mayhem begins with a mock invasion of the pirates. Two replica 17th-century galleons, two old-time sailing vessels, loaded with pirates make a Saturday surprise landing at the bowl-shaped George Town harbour with the pirates capturing the Governor – all with fireworks galore. And a lot of local Caribbean foods and drinks. Thousands of people line the streets to watch the spectacle and its all good-natured fun with a new twist every year. Families just love it. It’s the only event of its kind in the Caribbean region.Read more here.
Festivities: Räbechilbi Turnip Festival
Date: November 8, 2014 (second Saturday in November)
In the Canton of Zurich, and more recently in other regions of German speaking Switzerland, processions which feature decorated, hollowed out fodder beets containing a lighted candle have become customary.
This custom can be traced back to the early 1920s. A very special form of this celebration has developed in Richterswil, situated on Lake Zurich. On the second Saturday evening in November, approximately a thousand children and grownups proceed through the darkened streets with individual lanterns or huge structures made up of hundreds of lighted beets portraying houses, people, and objects. The facades of the houses are also decorated with lights. Just as with the Halloween pumpkins in USA, Swiss carve out turnips, only mostly they carve the happy faces rather than “evil” and “scary” faces like we do it here on Halloween.
The procession, which moves along a predetermined route, is led by a group of women dressed in black. They represent “the churchgoers of Richterswilerberg”. Tradition says that around 1850 they lit the way to the evening service in the village church with their lighted beets. Though research has shown that this lovely legend may not be true, this does not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants nor the general harmony of the evening in the least.
Festivities: Düsseldorf Karneval
I have a very soft spot for this German city. I’ve been there once, but it only brings great memories of this city. Even though some might disagree with me that Dusseldorf seems to be more full of the artistic and creative shops and very well dressed crowd, some attribute these qualities to Stuttgart. But Dusseldorf old town reminds me of Stockholm in how bohemian some parts of the city look.
In November, Dusseldorf holds one of the largest annual festivals in the country, Karneval, which is quite a big deal in the Rhineland region of Germany, particularly in Cologne and Düsseldorf. It’s known as “The Fifth Season,” Karneval in Düsseldorf begins at 11:11am on the 11th of November (the 11th month), and actually continues right up until Lent (usually in February or March). The festivities take a back seat to the Christmas holidays, but kick into high gear again in early January. This is definitely a place to be if you want to see how merry and happy Germans can be. Endless music, great hearty food and drinks pour all days long. More than 300 carnival sessions and costume balls are celebrated in the state capital. Read more here.
Sri Narong Stadium, Surin, Thailand
Festivities: Surin Elephant Round-up
Date: November 14-16 (Third weekend in November)
This event first held in 1960. The people of Surin were traditionally excellent at capturing elephants in Cambodia, then training them as working animals. Civil war in Cambodia and the elephant’s decreasing economic importance has forced the elephant handlers (mahouts) to turn to entertainment to make a living.
The event consists of a series of shows displaying the strength and skill of the animals, such as football games and tugs of war, as well as picking up tiny objects with their trunks. There are demonstrations of log-pulling, a job for which Thais commonly use elephants, and re-enactments of old hunting and war scenes featuring vintage pachyderm costumes.
The sport activities are preceded by The Elephant Breakfast held on the Friday morning. A procession of up to over 300 elephants (2005) start marching through Surin city from the railway station area toward the Elephant roundabout at the south end of the city on the Prasat road.
The elephants carry dignitaries and also some tourists who dismount their steeds on arrival. Some elephants carry mahouts in authentic battle outfits from the Thai – Khmer – Laos battles. Intermingled with the elephant procession are local school children and teachers in traditional dress, dancing and playing music.
Once all the elephants have arrived then the banquet can begin, the tables of fruits are quickly cleared by the large team of elephants. Whatever leftovers there may be is not lost, as the local people take the leftovers to their own homes. On the following morning (Saturday) the elephants and mahoots congregate at the Elephant Stadium to the south east of the city centre. Here the main show is performed culminating in a re-enactment of the battles of a past century. The show is repeated on Sunday morning.
Otori shrines, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
Festivities: Tori-No-Ichi (Day of the Rooster)
Date: Every 12 days in November
Tori no Ichi Fair (open-air market) is a famous annual event in November on the day of the Tori (Rooster) in Chinese calendar and this event has continued to today since the Edo period. Tori no Ichi is held at Temple of Tori (Juzaisan Chokoku-ji) in Asakusa, Tokyo or various shrines of Washi (Eagle) and many people come to there to pray for a health, good fortune and good business.
This event normally happens twice a year. The festival-goers visit Otori shrines to ask for abundant harvests and shedloads of sales. Markets spring up around attracting tens of thousands of visitors to some 200 stalls.
A special thing on Tori no Ichi was “Bamboo Rake for good luck”. A highly decorated bamboo rake was particular popular as goods to bring happiness and prosperity in business. It is said that to bring happiness for New Year is to change a bigger bamboo rake year by year. There are also other popular specialties – Kashira no Imo (steamed taro) and Koganemochi (Japanese rice cake), which are sold to people who hope to be succeeded business and wealth. Read more here.
Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India
Festivities: Guru Nanak Jayanti
Date: November 6, 2014 (usually falls on the Indian lunar month of Aghan, November/December)
The festivities in the Sikh religion revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. These Gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known as Gurpurab (or Gurpurb), are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs. The celebration is generally similar for all Gurpurabs; only the hymns are different. The celebrations usually commence with early morning processions that begin at the Gurudwaras and proceed around the localities singing hymns. All of these celebrations involve long processions throughout the day, including night prayers and readings of the holy book. There are brass bands playing different tunes and ‘Gatka’ teams display their swordmanship through various martial arts and as mock battles using traditional weapons. The procession pours into the streets of the town. The passage is covered with banners and gates decorated flags and flowers, for this special occasion. The leaders spreading the message of Guru Nanak.The celebrations are especially colourful in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh.
Lingsar, Lombok, Indonesia
Festivities: Perang Topat (Rice Cake War)
Date: Sixth full moon in the Sasak calendar (November/December)
Endearingly described as a “multi-cultural food fight” Perang Topat is one of the most unique traditions in Indonesia, fostering friendship between Lombok’s two main religions – Hindu and Muslim. It takes place at Pura Lingsar temple. Built in the 18th century by Balinese Hindus, Pura Lingsar also houses a Muslim shrine and is the only place where both Hindus and Muslims worship together.
This centuries-old ritual, essentially a harvest festival to bless the following year’s crops, takes place annually according to the Sasak lunar calendar, usually in November/December. The ‘topat’ in question are sticky rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves which serve as the ammunition for this good-natured free-for-all. After several days of preparation, commemorative offerings and prayers, the command is given to wage war. Scores of Hindus and Muslims charge headlong into the fray hurling lumps of sticky rice at each other. It’s a chaotic and very colourful ritual and curious visitors are welcome to mingle with the crowds, although if you get a little too close to the action you can expect to be hit by a few wayward missiles. Read more here.
Festivities: Monkey Buffet Festival
Held annually in Thailand to promote tourism. In 2007, the festival included giving fruits and vegetables to the local monkey population of 2,000 in Lopburi province north of Bangkok.
The festival was described as one of the strangest festivals by London’s The Guardian newspaper along with Spain’s baby-jumping festival. A photograph from the Monkey Buffet Festival at Pra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi Province shows a monkey trying to get at fresh fruit and vegetable captured in blocks of ice.
Festivities: JazzFest Berlin
Date: October 31-November 3, 2014
Berlin’s annual jazz festival, JazzFest, started in 1964 in what was then West Berlin. Today, the festival is held in several venues along what’s known as the “mile of jazz,” including the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, A-Trane, and Quasimodo – a jazz club in the Zoologischer Garten. JazzFest Berlin lasts four days, and brings in talent from all over Europe and elsewhere in the world. Big band-style jazz is particularly popular at JazzFest, but there’s plenty of variety in the performances. In 2013, JazzFest Berlin runs from October 31-November 3. a jazz festival based in Berlin, Germany. Originally called the “Berliner Jazztage” (Berlin Jazz Days), it was founded in 1964 in West Berlin by the Berliner Festspiele. Venues were, among others: Berliner Philharmonie, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Volksbühne, Haus der Berliner Festspiele and the Jazzclubs Quasimodo and A-Trane.
The festival’s artistic concept has been “to document, support, and validate trends in jazz, and to mirror the diversity of creative musical activity. Read more here.
New York, New York
For my dear New Yorkers, don’t forget that about the New York Marathon that is held the first Sunday in November, which is November 2nd. Read more here.
New York Marathonis considered to be the marathon “every runner wants to do”. It’s been held every year (except one) since 1970, and in recent years there are more than 45,000 finishers. Because the race is so popular, attracting far more entries than can ever be accepted, most of the runners are chosen by a lottery system. The race course goes through all five of the boroughs of New York City, beginning on Staten Island before going through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and The Bronx. The course then winds back into Manhattan, finishing in Central Park outside Tavern on the Green.
Or, and don’t forget, November is the bullfighting season in Peru. Talk to the Spaniards, but Peruvians are pretty proud of their bullfighting events and competitions. More here.