Plenty of reasons to celebrate this year

By Hawkeye Staff

While people are familiar with popular religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Yom Kippur, there are actually quite a few other interesting religious holidays that many people are not aware of. For example, every year on the Sunday closest to the birthday of Charles Darwin, whom most people know to be the father of the theory of evolution, pastors around the country speak from the pulpit about Darwin’s contribution to people’s understanding of the world in celebration of Evolution Sunday. The purpose of Evolution Sunday is to demonstrate that Christians (and those of similar beliefs) can embrace God and evolution. Over 850 scientists have volunteered to assist clergymen in understanding certain scientific concepts, in which they hope will improve communication between Christianity and Evolution. In 2010, 841 churches nationwide, Washington D.C., and 12 other countries celebrated Evolution Sunday. Another interesting religious holiday takes place in Japan, known as Setsubun. Every February 3rd, people of the Shinto religion throw roasted soy beans at home, while saying “oni wa so to, fu ku wa uchi (get out demons, come in happiness)”. It is believed that if people pick up the number of beans equal to their ages and eat them, than they can be healthy and happy. All over Japan people visit shrines and temples to pick up beans to receive good fortune. Last but not least, Ferragosto is an Italian religious holiday celebrating the day the Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven. Although this is a religious holiday, many non-religious people celebrate it as well. Every August 15th, Italians get out of the cities and head to the coast or the hills where they enjoy festive meals and celebrations. Overall, these are just some religious holidays that are practiced but not very well known.