October is appropriately named National Diversity Awareness Month due to the number of recognitions and celebrations.
To begin with, October is Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual History Month. The celebration is modeled after and is similar in purpose to Black History Month and Women’s History Month. LGBHM is designed to promote the teaching of LesBiGay history in secondary and post-secondary academic setting, as well as within the LesBiGay community and mainstream society. October was selected because the first and second Marches on Washington for lesbian and gay rights were held in this month in 1979 and 1987. National Coming Out Day (October 11) provides an additional reason for choosing this month.
October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month that began with the Presidential Proclamation of Public Law 100-630 (Title III, Sec 301a) in 1988. This law replaced National Employ the Handicapped Week which had occurred annually since 1945 during the first week of October. The new law also recognized a change in terminology and replaced “handicap” with “disability.”
The Jewish holiday of Sukkot, also known as Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, begins at sunset the day before the 15th day of Tishri in the Hebrew calendar and lasts for seven days. The word Sukkot means ‘booth’ and recalls the time that Israelites wandered in the desert during their journey to the promised land and lived in the sukkots. Sukkot is the third Pilgrimage festival mentioned in the Old Testament and is a holiday of joy and happiness. It is observed by the building of a temporary dwelling (Vayikra 23: 42-43: “In booths you are to dwell for seven days …so that your generations will know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them from the land of Egypt….”) and by the gathering of four plants (Vayikra 23:40: “And you shall take for yourself on the first day the fruit of a goodly tree, branches of palm trees, the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before Hashem…for seven days.”). On the seventh day, the four plants are paraded around the synagogue in a celebration called Hoshana Rabba, or Great Hosanna. Sukkot also signifies a thanksgiving for the harvest. In keeping with this, the temporary dwellings are decorated with fruits of the land.
Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, is the most important feast of the Muslim calendar. It concludes the Pilgrimmage to Mecca. Eid al-Adha lasts for three days and commemorates Ibraham’s (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son. Muslims believe the son to be Ishmael rather than Isaac as told in the Old Testament. Ishmael is considered the forefather of the Arabs. According to the Koran, Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son when a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead. The feast re-enacts Ibrahim’s obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family eats about a third of the meal and donates the rest to the poor.
Other celebrations this month include: German-American Heritage Month, National Italian-American Heritage Month, Polish-American Heritage Month, Simchat Torah (Jewish), Columbus Day, Shemini Atzeret (Jewish), Cirio de Nazare (Brazil), and Reformation Day (Christian).
However or whatever you choose to celebrate this month, please take a little time to learn about the celebrations of your friends and neighbors.
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