In the United States, autumn brings to mind spectacular displays of fall foliage, the somber turning of the seasons, and spooky Halloween festivities. In other parts of the world, a bounty of national and religious holidays fall within a three-week period from mid-September to early October. Sometimes this succession of holidays makes my job as a project manager in the language services industry quite a challenge. Assigning projects and meeting deadlines is complicated by the fact that so many people around the world are busy celebrating!

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Sept 17 and September 24:  Two Japanese National Holidays

For the Japanese, Keirou-no-hi [Respect for the Aged Day] is always celebrated on the third Monday of September, which in 2018 was Monday the 17th. On Keirou-no-hi, many neighborhoods will deliver o-bento boxes [boxed lunches] to the elderly. School-aged children might also perform in keiroukai shows, where senior citizens are treated to traditional songs and dances followed by tea and dessert. Shubun No Hi marks the Autumnal Equinox. This year the public holiday celebrating the turning of the seasons will be observed on Monday, September 24th. Many people will head back to their hometowns to tend to the graves of their ancestors, leaving offerings of sweet rice balls to help nourish their loved ones in the next world.

September 19: Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement

This year, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana took place September 9th through the 11th. During this time, Jewish families all over the world convened for festive, food-filled celebrations of the Jewish New Year.  The more somber Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, fell on September 19.  Yom Kippur is the last of the days of penitence following Rosh Hashana. On this day, Jewish people worship, pray, and fast.  No work should be done on the Day of Atonement, and in our city of Philadelphia, the public schools were closed in honor of it.

September 24:  The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in China

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In China and parts of Vietnam, September 24th ushered in the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival. The festival’s origins are rooted in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) tradition of worshiping the full moon after an abundant harvest. Families gather to share meals, hang multicolored lanterns, and admire the moon’s beauty. One of the most popular traditions is the sharing of mooncakes: round pastries with numerous fillings from sweet lotus paste to savory minced pork and mixed nuts.

October 1: National Day in China

This year, The Moon Festival occurred one week before China’s National Day on October 1st. National Day is the first day of Golden Week, a five-day holiday commemorating the founding of the People’s Republic of China. National Day has become one of China’s busiest and most lucrative times for tourism. It’s also a bit harder to staff Chinese-language translation jobs during this period.

September 23-26: Chuseok in Korea

Chuseok, once known as Hangawi, is the harvest festival celebrated by North and South Koreans on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, on the full moon. Also known as the Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok begins on the 23rd (a Sunday) and will be celebrated as a public holiday over the next three business days.  Traditionally, Koreans return to their hometowns with their families, causing traffic jams much like those we experience during the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

October 3 and October 9: Two more Korean holidays

A week later, Koreans will celebrate Gaecheonjeol, a holiday recognizing the founding of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 BC.  Unlike Chuseok, which is determined by the lunar calendar, National Foundation Day always occurs on October 3.  Six days later, on October 9, South Koreans will celebrate another fixed-day holiday: Hangeul Day, which commemorates the 15th-century invention and proclamation of the native alphabet of the Korean language by one of the most honored rulers in Korean history, King Sejong the Great. (North Koreans observe Hangeul Day on January 15).

Across the globe, autumn is not only a time to celebrate change, but also a time for reunions between families and friends.  As a translation project manager, I communicate with people all over the world, and keeping track of the variety of world celebrations is both fun and informative.  However, it can also be a bit overwhelming—I learned just how vital is it to plan ahead and have a back-up plan. Late September and early October sees the convergence of many different holidays across many different cultures.  After that, we can relax a bit… and get ready for the winter holiday season!

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