This Week's Holidays and Holy Days Around the World

Yom Kippur - September 15-16


As noted last week, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on September 15, and continues until sundown Thursday, September 16.
 
Yom Kippur is the “Day of Atonement”, marking the end of the “Ten Days of Awe” that begin with Rosh Hashanah.  Huffington Post notes that “during the Days of Awe, Jews seeks forgiveness from friends, family and co-workers, a process that begins with Tashlich, the symbolic casting off of sins that is traditionally observed on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah by throwing bread into a body of water. On Yom Kippur, Jews attempt to mend their relationships with God. This is done, in part, by reciting the Vidui, a public confession of sins. The holiday has the most extensive prayer schedule of the Hebrew calendar and arduous abstinence from food, drink, sexual intimacy and animal-based clothing, such as leather.”

Constitution Day

The United States Constitution was signed by the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.  It then had to be ratified by at least nine of the thirteen states in the United States of America in order to go into effect.  This was not easy to accomplish, as many criticized the Convention for creating a new, more powerful national government rather than simply amending the existing Articles of Confederation.
 
Writing under the pseudonym of “Publius”, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published numerous essays urging ratification.  Today these collected essays are known as “the Federalist Papers.”  Many remained unconvinced, and urged that the Constitution be amended to specifically guarantee that the national government would not use its new powers to abridge rights a wide range of natural rights.  After promises that this “Bill of Rights” would be added to the Constitution, many of the more reluctant states ratified the document.  In May of 1790 Rhode Island became the last state to ratify the Constitution.  By this point George Washington was already a year into his first term as president, having been elected after the first ten states ratified the Constitution, and starting his term in April of 1789.
 
September 17 is recognized nationally as “Constitution Day”, and is a day to recognize our constitutional form of government, rights, and duties. 


Sukkot

Sukkot begins the evening of Monday, September 20, and ends the evening of Monday, September 27 (2021).  Known as the “festival of the booths”, Sukkot is a harvest festival that also commemorates the period when, according to Jewish sacred writings, their people wandered in the wilderness for 40 days after fleeing Egypt.  Booths known as sukkah are constructed to represent the shelters used in the wilderness, and foods eaten are ones traditionally associated with the autumn harvest.


International Day of Peace

Tuesday, September 21, the International Day of Peace is recognized worldwide.  Established by a vote of the UN General Assembly in 1981, the Day of Peace is a time to recognize the principles around which the United Nations organization was originally founded.


Autumnal Equinox

Wednesday, September 22 is the Autumnal Equinox, the mid point between the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year) and the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year).  As such, it is one of two days in the year when the length of day and night are roughly equal, the other day being Vernal (Spring) Equinox.  Autumn Equinox is also considered to be the first day of Fall.
 
It’s worth remembering, however, that all of this is only the case in the northern hemisphere.  South of the equator, September 22 is Spring Equinox!
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