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10 March Holidays Around the Globe

Happy holidays! Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. Here in the United States, we’ve become accustomed to thinking of “the holidays” as the months of November and December. Around the world, there are many, many holidays in the month of March. As winter ends and spring begins to blossom, people all over the world and here in Orange County mark this month with celebrations and observances of all sorts.

1. Purim - Monday March 6-Tuesday March 7

Purim is a traditional Jewish holiday celebrating the Persian Jews’ triumph over the minister Haman dating back to the fifth century BCE. Often described as the merriest of all Jewish holidays, this joyful festival represents Jewish perseverance and escape from extermination. Purim is typically celebrated on the 14th of the month of Adar on the Hebrew calendar. People of the Jewish faith celebrate by wearing zany masks and costumes, organizing pageants and parades, feasting, drinking, and giving to the poor. Purim is celebrated in all corners of the globe where Judaism is practiced. The largest festivals take place in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, Israel.

How can you acknowledge Purim? Make your own Hamantaschen, pastries that represent the evil Haman’s pockets (or in some cases, hat, or ears). Eating this jam-filled triangular treat represents destroying and defeating Haman’s evil.

2. Holi - Wednesday, March 8

Holi is an ancient Hindu practice and is celebrated mainly in India and Nepal, but also in other places where the Hindu faith is practiced. Even many non-religious folks have begun taking part in this lively “Festival of Colors.” The history of Holi is associated with two different stories. One story tells of the Prince Prahlad and the demon Holika, celebrating the triumph of good over evil. One common Holi practice is the burning of effigies of the demon Holika on the eve of the festivities. The second story is of the Lord Krishna and his love Radha. Krishna’s mother suggested he throw colors on Radha’s face to change the color of her skin, which began the tradition of throwing colors on Holi. Today, this vibrant holiday celebrates the coming of spring, the harvest, and fertility. On Holi, celebrants wear white, smear colorful designs on their faces and skin, and go into the streets to throw colorful powders often made of spices such as turmeric. In the evening, people will often go to temple to worship or visit their relatives and enjoy sweets.

How can you join in the festivities? Attend one of OC’s many Holi events this upcoming week. Celebrate on your own by making a color-filled water balloon and have fun throwing them with friends and family.

3. International Women’s Day – Wednesday March 8

In the early twentieth century, women began protesting for equality around the globe. In 1911, protesters in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland attended International Women’s Day rallies to fight for women’s causes such as the right to vote. In the 1970s, United Nations began marking International Women’s Day. Today, this day is observed around the world and the day is growing in recognition. The International Women’s Day organization selects a yearly theme which helps promote various women’s causes around the world. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity, reminding those celebrating to reflect on the difference between equality and equity. International Women’s Day is both a celebration of what women have achieved and a reminder of the progress that we still must make.

How can you acknowledge International Women’s Day? Attend a local or online event to educate yourself about women’s issues. Donate to an organization that supports women. Read a book or watch a documentary on women’s issues.

4. Pi Day – Tuesday, March 14

The first three digits of pi, or π, are 3.14, making March 14 (3/14) the perfect day for celebrating this numerical constant. Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, organized the first official Pi Day back in 1988. Mathematicians celebrate Pi day by memorizing and reciting the digits of pi, and, of course, eating delicious pies. Pi day is a fun-filled day for mathematicians, students, and pie-lovers alike.

How can you join in the fun? Bake a pi-shaped pie. Memorize as many digits of pi as you can.

5. St. Patrick’s Day – Friday March 17