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August 2018

Fall Festivals Around the World in 2018

Take your language skills on the road this autumn

Autumn is a great time for international travel. With fewer tourists in the skies compared to summer, prices are generally lower than during the previous months and during winter holidays. If you’re looking for an excuse to travel in the fall, these festivals around the world might be the perfect impetus.

Oktoberfest - Germany (Sep 22)

The reputation of Oktoberfest precedes it, and little needs to be said of Munich's massive Volksfest (beer festival and fair). Over 6 million people, many of them dressed in trachten (traditional Bavarian clothing), from around the world visit Bavaria for this annual celebration. It all started in 1810 when a celebration was held for the matrimony of Kronprinz Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Today, however, the more notable union is that of lager and lips.

Mid-Autumn Festival - China (Sep 24)

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a huge harvest festival for Chinese people around the world. Lanterns are raised and the moon is celebrated in the form of sweets; the mooncake, a pastry with a rich filling of various sorts, can be found in most Chinese markets around the world during this time. The ancient celebration can be traced back to harvest and moon celebrations during the Shang dynasty, which ran from approximately 1600-1046 BCE.

Masskara Festival - Philippines (Oct 1)

The MassKara Festival is a large festival of masks, and the name itself literally combines the words mass (many) and cara (the Spanish word for face). It was first celebrated in 1980 during a crisis with the drop in the price of sugar (thanks to the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup), which was a primary agricultural crop in the Philippines province of Negros Occidental. Despite the hard times, this "festival of smiles" continues to this day. Revelers don masks similar to those worn during Carnival. Beauty pageants are held, sports are played, and music and dance are enjoyed.

Dia de los Muertos - Mexico (Nov 1)

Halloween may now be a lighthearted evening for pretend ghouls and prospective Spider-Men, but Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) retains its traditional roots. In many cultures, death is a thing to be celebrated, and the Day of the Dead is moment for celebrants to reflect back upon and honor dearly departed ancestors. A particularly profound ritual during this celebration are the altars set up to commemorate deceased relatives, adorned with offerings of food and other worldly delights.

Guy Fawkes Day - United Kingdom (Nov 5)

It was no doubt a cold, dark night on the fifth of November in 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his conspirators attempted to assassinate King James I of England. "Remember, remember the fifth of November", they say today during Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night), an annual commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Effigies of Fawkes are burned while people parade through the streets, remembering less the violence of the attempted coup but the legend himself.

Diwali Festival of Lights - India (Nov 7)

India's most important holiday is the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated not only in India these days but also worldwide. It is the celebration of good overcoming evil. During the five days of Diwali, celebrants clean their homes, decorate their abodes with clay lamps, gather with family for prayer, offer gifts to friends and relatives, and have great feasts. To put it into perspective for westerners, it’s a holiday as important to Hindus as Christmas is to most European cultures.

Thanksgiving - United States (Nov 22)

In the United States, Thanksgiving traces its roots to as early as 1619 when colonists in Plymouth, Massachusetts celebrated the autumn harvest with the Wampanoag Indians. The tradition of feasting in thanks came from England, brought across the Atlantic by emigrating Pilgrims and Puritans. Many of the popular foods of the meal, from potatoes to corn, were staples to the Native Americans and were slowly introduced to the rest of the world afterwards. Imagine a world that serves pasta without tomato sauce, and you can understand the impact of Native American culture to all others.

What is your favorite international fall holiday? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more language learning articles!