This story was created for the Google Expeditions project by Vida Systems, now available on Google Arts & Culture.
Diwali is from India and is also known as the Festival of Lights,
Marked by fireworks, lanterns and lamps which illuminate the night.
For Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, this is a very important date,
Reminding all that light triumphs over dark, and love triumphs over hate.
Rangoli are patterns made out of flour, petals or colored sand,
These arrangements lie on the floor and are completed by hand.
These lucky designs are passed down through generations,
The women of the family are responsible for these intricate creations.
Each day of Diwali has its own myth or tale to tell,
The first day celebrates a demon’s return to hell,
Day two praises Lakshmi when she is in her most benevolent mood,
And day three, sisters invite brothers over to share some food.
You may have noticed I’m missing two days--never fear!
Some people include the two days prior into the festival cheer.
After winning a divine game of dice, Goddess Parvati decreed,
All who gamble this night will prosper throughout the following year.
The most important part of Diwali is, of course, the lights,
Which are used to drive away the darkness enveloping the night.
The light inspires all to commit to good deeds,
Keep an eye out for others and look after their needs.
The fireworks signal to the gods our sheer delight,
About living on Earth under their benevolent might.
These colors and lights show our sincere gratitude,
Our faith, joy and hope explosively renewed!
Day of the Dead
From the 31st of October to November the 2nd,
Mexico’s Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead beckons.
This three day festival commemorates loved ones passed away,
And includes All Hallows Eve, Day of the Innocents and All Souls Day.
A whole festival celebrating death seems a strange subject,
However Dia de Muertos is all about respect.
Remembering family members whose lives have now ended,
By throwing them a party, it’s really quite splendid.
The Day of the Dead is thought to be at least two thousand years old,
Ancient traditions are still included, such as the use of marigolds.
The flower attracts the souls of the dead with its powerful smell,
And leads them back to the grave after their festival carousel.
Hallows Eve Night
From the dark, mischief filled Hallows Eve night,
The Day of the Innocents bursts through with sheer delight.
Filled with color, sweets, flowers and joy,
It’s a day to remember departed girls and boys.
To welcome the dead back to the world of the living,
Altars are built, filled with food, drinks and other small givings.
Marigold petals scattered from the altar to the gravesite,
To ensure spirits return after their day of delight.
The colorful skeletons is the festival’s famous costume,
They actually started as a joke and have nothing to do with gloom.
The citizens of Mexico thought it was such fun,
They continued the tradition to honor their loved ones.
Souls of the Departed
The souls of the departed are thought to travel in butterflies,
And are offered special bread and little sugar skulls crystallized.
Each altar has elements of water, wind, fire and earth,
And remembers that the cycle of life is all about rebirth.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a month of restraint,
A month where Muslims refrain from food during the day without complaint.
The holy month of Ramadan is a chance to spiritually rejuvenate,
To cleanse the soul, pray and quietly contemplate.
First Eid al-Fitr
The first Eid al-Fitr was celebrated in the year 624,
When the prophet Muhammad brought down the book of lore.
He migrated from Mecca to Madinah to escape persecution,
And spread the word of Islam, starting a spiritual revolution.
Family and Friends
At Eid al-Fitr, family and friends congregate,
To feast, worship, and to charities donate,
After a month of daytime fasting, the mood is upbeat,
With gifts given and sumptuous feasts laid out to eat.
Generosity and Hospitality
This day celebrates generosity and hospitality,
Now is not the time to demonstrate frugality.
Children receive bags filled with candies and toys,
It is a festival Muslim children all over the world enjoy.
Chinese New Year
Each year, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date.
The lunar phases determine the festival’s fate.
This festival lasts the longest of all we’ve explored,
23 days of fun and events celebrated in China and abroad.
The first New Year started in ancient times hiding from a beast,
Called Nian, on little children he especially liked to feast.
One year, an old man said ‘No more,’
And refused to hide, according to folklore.
He decorated the village in red and set off firecrackers,
Which frightened the attacker.
Thanks to the old man, the color red is revered,
Chasing away bad luck and other beasts feared.
Fireworks and crackers are set off making lots of noise,
Keeping the beast forever away and saving the girls and boys.
Dragons in China represent the opposite to Western culture,
Thought to be lucky and wise, they help the community prosper.
During Chinese New Year, the long dragons dance,
Spreading luck and good cheer, they weave and prance.
Red envelopes filled with money are given away,
And red decorations are placed in windows and doorways.
Over the 23 days, everyone celebrates and has a great time,
Different traditions for each day--too much to fit in this small rhyme!
The festival from Christmas is a bit of an amalgamation,
A large dose of Christianity and some pagan traditions helped make this creation.
The birth of who Christians believe is the son of God is the reason,
For them to celebrate December 25th, and make it a festive season.
The son of God, Jesus, was born in the Middle East,
Many Christians celebrate by preparing a feast.
Christmas decorations are carefully arranged,
And on Christmas Eve or Day, gifts are exchanged.
One of the iconic symbols of Christmas is the pine tree,
This tradition was started in Germany in the 16th century.
Tinsel, invented at the same time was made out of silver,
Its sparkles brightened up the dark gloom of winter.
The star on the tree commemorates the sign,
Used by others to find the one divine.
Today, many put the star at the top of their tree,
Remembering the arrival of the wise men three.
The exact origin of Santa is a little bit murky,
But seems to have started with St. Nicholas of Turkey.
Born a rich man, he gave away all his possessions,
Which in the 3rd century left quite the impression.