Spring Is Packed with Sacred Holidays: Here's What They Teach Us

Many sacred holidays from several traditions converge within the same few weeks of the year. What can we learn from each?

I’m often amazed by the convergence of so many important, sacred holidays within the same few weeks of the year. If a being from a different planet came to earth this week and got a bird’s eye view, I wonder what lessons they would take away from this coming together on the calendar? I doubt they’d take sides—as in “this tradition good, that one is bunk!” All of them ask people to change their routine in honor of something bigger. Here are some lessons they might take away:

From Passover (Pesach), the Jewish holiday: The ritual Seder dinner involving all the senses serves as a parable for and about children, reliving the Exodus of Moses and his loyal believers, embarking on a journey marked by hardship, but ultimately filled with hope and optimism for a brighter future, toward freedom—from oppression, want, and indignity.

From Vaisakhi, the Sikh holiday: This day marks the establishment of the concept of the Saint-Soldier, whose courage is rooted in standing up for the freedom of any oppressed human being, all of whom are children of the same One Creator, to be treated equally regardless of gender, caste, or beliefs.

From Mahavir Jayanti, the Jain holiday: This marks the birth of the last of the Jain prophets who was believed to have conquered all human vice; the sacred holiday serves as a reminder of the qualities of renunciation from materialism, charity, justice, nonviolence, and honesty.

From Christian Holy Week, Culminating on Easter Sunday: The suffering of Jesus, dying on the cross, followed by his miraculous resurrection, exemplifies divine grace and humanity’s hope for redemption and renewal, even amidst the worst crises.

From Ugadi (and other names), the New Year for various regions’ Hindus: This festivity and its variations are celebrated with foods that mark the various tastes of the year to come: bitter, sweet, sour, and fiery, followed by fresh clothes, a clean home, visits to loved ones, and symbols of good’s triumph over evil. The idea of renewal is coupled with the realities of life’s trials, and hope for goodness as the ultimate victor.

From Theravadin, the Buddhist New Year (in Southeast Asia): Renewal is marked by celebratory food, visits to temples, fresh and new items for home and person. These help begin a new cycle, as in nature. People also might be splashed with water—amidst revelry—to symbolize a cleansing from past sins.

From Ridvan, the Baha’i holiday: The Ridvan festival marks Baha’u’llah’s publicly announcing His sacred mission centered in the realization of the oneness of humanity, justice, and a renewal God’s purpose for humanity to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. It is symbolized by roses, as thousands were brought to honor Baha’u’llah prior to His embarking on yet another journey in His long exile.

I could not find an Islamic holiday falling in April, but as the last few months have been called the “Arab Spring,” perhaps this time could also serve as a poignant reminder of the struggle for democracy. And taken together, maybe this vision of a world in celebration this spring could bring us closer to the ideals we all hope for.

Homa Sabet Tavangar is the author of Growing up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World (Ballantine/Random House), named a “Best New Parenting Book” and praised by Dr. Jane Goodall. She’s the mom of three girls ages 7 to 17, and a frequent speaker and advisor on global perspectives to corporations and K-12 communities.

photo (cc) via Flickr user vicki moore

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.