Life can come at you with a heavy hand, and we end up dealing with it the best we can. With this in mind, I have this overwhelming need to celebrate something. Anything! Even if it’s just the fact I wrote another poem, and persuaded you to write one as well. That is cause to celebrate in itself!

So, in looking for something to celebrate, I perused a calendar of International Holiday / Celebration days for this week. First of all, I personally remember John Lennon’s Birthday (Oct. 9). Aside from his fine musicianship, John was a poet “In His Own Write”. And you can’t pass the chance to celebrate a poet!

All Abord Speeching

Sing you with long voice.
For discharge
Deep breathing is Nescafe for a dark voice,
deep breeding and in haley is very impotent
for broadcastle and out-lying ariels…
visibility nil in Rockall and Fredastaire?
Practice daily but not if you’re debb and duff.”

Taken from ‘In His Own Write’ by John Lennon

The ninth of October is also Leif Erikson Day in the US. It is an annual American observance, which occurs to honor the Norse explorer who led the first Europeans thought to have set foot in North America.

October 10th brings us Columbus Day here in the US, a national holiday in many countries in the Americas and elsewhere which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in and the discovery of the American Continent on October 12, 1492. The landing is celebrated as “Día de la Raza” (“Day of the Race”) in many countries in Latin America and as “Día de la Hispanidad” and “Fiesta Nacional” in Spain. In some circles, it is called “Indigenous Peoples Day.”

Crossing into Canada, the tenth of October will be celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the “Great White North.” Having grown up in Buffalo, New York (a short jaunt over a “Peace Bridge” into Canada until the dawning of the TSA – now it’s not so short) I had access to many television programs and stations broadcast over the Canadian airwaves. I watched the children shows and the sports programming, the game shows and variety programs. I tease that I became “Canadian by osmosis.” (This comes in handy since my youngest daughter is in a serious relationship with a fine young man from Ottawa, Ontario.) I find myself celebrating my traditional American Thanksgiving twice a year, on the second Monday in October (Canadian Thanksgiving) and our November Thursday.

Our Home, Our Native Land

O Canada, harvest has come.
October’s earlier bounty is gathered
as are we to celebrate this day.
Thanks are given that we are living
in this land. A grand expanse from province
to province with providence from our Glorious Creator
who has made us strong and free.
Our celebration varies from our American brethren,
save for eyes raised to heaven in gratitude.
No pilgrim pride, but a daily prayer
that our futures are prosperous and fruitful!
O Canada, our home, our native land!

~Walter J. Wojtanik

We’ll mention “World Mental Health Day”, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992.

During the Chung Yeung or “Double Nines” Festival (Hong Kong) whole extended families head to ancestral graves to clean them and repaint inscriptions, and to lay out food, which are then eaten (after the spirits have consumed the spiritual element of the foods.)

This poem is often recited on this day:

Remembering my Shandong Brothers
by the Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei:

As a lonely stranger in a foreign land,
At every holiday my homesickness increases.
Far away, I know my brothers have reached the peak;
They are wearing the zhuyu*, but one is not present.

*zhuyu is a ceremonial garment.

“Sports Day” takes place in Japan to round out the slate on October 10th. During weeks preceding the sports day, students practice events to entertain their parents and friends, within their class of physical education. Performances by the school band and presentations by various school clubs including individual and group competitive events are held. These practices, and the sports days themselves, normally take place on the schools’ fields. I offer this Sports Day haiku:

spirit of children
cascading young springs that flow
blossoms yet to bloom

Today (October 11th) finds Muslims recognizing Ashura. This day is celebrated by Sunni Muslims (who refer to it as The Day of Atonement) as the day on which the Israelites were freed from the Pharaoh of Egypt. However, Shi’a Muslims reject these stories and maintain that Ashura is a day of great sorrow due to the tragic events of Karbala.

The rest of the world declares the “International Day of the Girl” on this day. The observation supports opportunities for girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide. These include things such as right to education or access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and unfree child marriage.

The Jewish time of “Yom Kippur” takes place on October 12th. Known as the Day of Atonement, it is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Traditionally Jewish people observe this holy day with a period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Sorry Doesn’t Seem Enough

It was a note of sort,
a post card maybe that said
all that was in his heart.

He had left home years ago,
a chance to break away and cut his teeth,
out from beneath his family’s reign.

The manipulation had left a stain,
which caused him much consternation.
His situation was precarious,

and his angst was a serious breech
of the sanity he hoped to find on his own.
But memories were stifling, the weight bearing walls

in his cavernous room for one. And now, scrawled across
a dog-eared swatch of paper, all that was in his heart.
It said, “I’m sorry!” and nothing more.

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2016

In Brazil they celebrate “Our Lady Aparecida Day”. The day is venerated by Brazilian Catholics, who consider her as the principal patroness of Brazil. On this day, they also recognize “Children’s Day”, as it is celebrated by children receiving presents from their parents.

I’m sure there are many more reasons to hold these days dear. We can celebrate pretty much anything we’d like. So the task at hand is to write a poem of celebration. It can be about a specific event that your custom or country deems fit to fete! It could be the act of celebrating something or someone. Or it could just mention the word celebration in the body of your poem. Either way, join us to celebrate the day!