With Thanksgiving over and the Thanksgiving weekend just beginning here in the USA, it can be the worst time to travel. The day before Thanksgiving is considered the most traveled day in the USA. So if you are in the colloquial States around the fourth Thursday in November keep this in mind. This got me thinking, what other holidays are respective to one place? So here are a few I saw, although there are tons and tons more around the world, that may entice you to during that time or push your stay a couple of weeks back.
Thanksgiving is the supposed day when the Pilgrims invited the Native Americans to dinner. This was to solidify friendship and sharing of the land that is now the USA. They sat down together and ate turkey, potatoes, squash, stuffing, and pie. That is what is taught to children in schools anyway. The truth of the matter is that Pilgrims really just spread diseases to the Native Americans and wiped out most of their population while simultaneously stealing their land. But for purposes of this post I will quiet the inner anthropologist in me and talk about modern day Thanksgiving and what it has become. If you have a friend or family celebrating Thanksgiving I would highly recommend asking to tag along on their dinner. Thanksgiving is about spending time with those you are thankful for while eating copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pies, cranberry sauce, and what ever other goodies are available. Along with watching parades and football all day. The final perk of Thanksgiving which is probably the best part if you are a lone traveler, is the sales. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. It has the most sales and many of the best sales start at midnight and end early morning. Its complete madness, but offers a great opportunity to get the best stuff at the lowest price!
Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), China
The Spring Festival in China is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the nation. This celebration falls on the day of the Spring solstice, somewhere between late January and early February. The legend goes that a giant beast used to roam around and eat men until an old man tamed the beast and rid the people of it. Although the beast is gone, people still decorate with the color red as the beast was afraid of that color. This is not a one day celebration, but the Chinese spend 15 days making preparations, buying gifts, eating different kinds of food and decorating. On midnight of the first night, fireworks are set off to rid people of bad luck and plus, fireworks are awesome. The festival ends on the fifteenth night with the Lantern Festival. Families will light candles outside of their homes to help guide lost spirits. People will also walk the city streets carrying lanterns. Since its a 15 day celebration, you can imagine traffic and public transportation will be backed up to say the least.
Australia Day, Australia
Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 in, you guessed it, Australia. This holiday is to celebrate the first establishment at Port Jackson, which is now part of modern day Sydney, in 1788. People have the day off of work to enjoy the beach, relax, party, and enjoy the culture of Australia. Many places of business are closed on this day or are open for a shorter amount of hours. The same goes for public transportation. If it isn’t shut down completely, it will only operate for part of the day, a good thing to know if traveling. One of the coolest aspects about this holiday is that some cities will hold citizenship ceremonies. At these ceremonies, immigrants are granted their citizenship in front of a festive crowd. This is also the day that Australian of the Year is given out.
Vappu, or Walpurgis Night, is a Spring celebration that takes place in a few countries, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands. It is on April 30th and goes into May 1st. I’m going to focus on the Vappu celebration that takes place in Finland because it sounds like tons of fun. This holiday is celebrated mostly by college aged kids. It consists of a few things, funny hats, funny clothes, and heavy drinking. The student cap and subsequent uniform are worn for the sole purpose of having a fun party outfit. The outfit is a set of colored overalls that they adorn with many patches and decorations. The famous drink that one must have if attending Vappu is Sima, a homemade mead that is sure to put you on the floor. To get more out of Vappu than funny clothing and booze, you can pick up a comedy magazine that is published every year on the holiday. Awesome gear, lots of drinks, party all day, and funny magazines? That sounds like my kind of holiday. Make everyday Vappu? I’m on board with that!