With all the celebrations around the International Day of Yoga, there are many other observances that drowning in the noise. They are quirky (such as World Handshake Day), ethical (World Humanist Day) and some are based on rare cosmic phenomena (Summer Solstice + Strawberry Moon). Here are five more world observances to take note of, apart from International Day of Yoga.
WORLD MUSIC DAY
Also known as Fête de la Musique, World Music Day was initiated by the French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang in 1982. It is based on French composer Maurice Fleuret’s reflections of “the music everywhere and the concert nowhere”. Over time, it became an international phenomenon and is now celebrated on the same day in more than 700 cities in 120 countries. The main thrust of the idea is to bring music to the streets and that the amateur and professional musical offerings be free of cost to the public.
SUMMER SOLSTICE + STRAWBERRY MOON
This year, the longest day of the year meets the phenomenon of the Strawberry Moon. No, the Moon won’t take on a pinkish hue. Named by the early Native American tribes, the Strawberry Moon is extraordinary from other full moons in that it marks the beginning of their strawberry season. This coincidence is considered special as it occurs only every 70 years. Summer Solstice is marked by various traditions and customs in different parts of the world. The Stonehenge — thought to be an ancient calendar system — is a big attraction on the Summer Solstice as when viewed from its center, the Sun rises at a particular point on the horizon. The ancient Chinese celebrated the Earth, femininity and the ‘yin’ forces on Summer Solstice. In ancient France — or Gaul — Midsummer celebrations and feasts were held, while the pagan celebrations typically included bonfires. The North American tribes — especially the Sioux — engaged in ritual dances around cosmic symbols. As a part of modern-day celebrations, New Age and Neopagan groups still descend at the Stonehenge in thousands, while residual bonfires, feasts and dances are still observed all over the world.
WORLD HANDSHAKE DAY
What does this observance achieve, apart from transferring germs from one palm to another? It doesn’t function quite as you think. The founder, Ivan Zupa, thinks that people should “take the time to put our hands in the sea and shake hands with the whole world and feel united. If you don’t live close to the sea, you could put your hand in any body of water that runs to the sea to still shake hands with the world.” Confused? Zupa had this brainwave after an encounter with an old man who left him with the words, “My son, place your hand here in the sea and you are united with the whole world.” If it makes sense, Zupa was stirred into action especially due to a tsunami. The aim of the WHD Project is the symbolic transfer of love, gratitude, and positive energy not only to human, but to the Earth and all its living beings.
ATHEIST SOLIDARITY DAY
This day is marked as a day of support for stigmatised atheists all over the world. The Facebook page description says, “There are many around the world who have to hide their lack of belief in God because of social pressures, taboos, threat of violence and even death. Everywhere there are people who have to hide out of necessity.” All those who identify as atheists have been asked to wear the atheist ribbon (half scarlet red half black) pinned to their shirt or any other symbol that helps identify them as atheists. Open for everyone to observe, it is still a fledgling observance — with big hopes. “Hopefully every year more and more people will celebrate this day. Eventually this day could be a day were all atheists stand up in solidarity worldwide in order to help more come out to those around them. Together we can help change the world where eventually atheists everywhere can stand up fearless and celebrate our freedom every June 21,” the page says.
WORLD HUMANIST DAY
Being observed since the 1980s, World Humanist Day is an opportunity for humanists and humanist organizations to publicise the positive values of Humanism and to share the global concerns of the Humanist movement. According to International Humanist and ethical Union, a humanist is someone who, “recognises that we, human beings, are the most curious and capable curators of knowledge in the known universe. To gain knowledge, we must use our reason and experience to understand the world. We reject any reliance on blindly received authority, or on dogma, or what others may claim is divine revelation (because we don’t believe we get tip-offs about truth from a supreme being beyond time and space. That would be cheating!) Humanism is an elaborate movement that explores and furthers the moral role of human beings