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Blog > December Writing Prompt: a holiday from your country

The writing prompts are an ongoing experiment that invites postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

December is here, the winter theme is up and we’re in a festive mood… hence this month’s prompt:

In December, write about a holiday celebrated in your country.
Write write write!

Sounds easy enough, right? And as luck would have it, yesterday was actually a national holiday in Portugal: we celebrated the 378th anniversary of the Restoration of Independence. Back in the 16th century, Portuguese King Sebastian mysteriously disappeared in a battle in Morocco. He was young and didn’t have any children, so a succession crisis ensued and in the aftermath of it, the Spanish crown ruled Portugal for 60 years. They were overthrown by a revolution that took place on December 1st 1640, in which the Portuguese independence was restored.

How do we celebrate this day? Naturally, there are some official commemorations taking place in the capital… but in my household, December 1st was celebrated as “the earliest day in which it is acceptable to make the Christmas tree”, according to my parents. So we were always busy doing that!

So now you know a bit more about the history of Portugal (and my home)! What holidays are special to your country that you could write about in your postcards this month?

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42 comments so far

shc, Indonesia
FIRST :P

Most festive holiday is Eid Fitr, I think. We got 2 weeks off, and people go back to their hometown :) the Ramadan month before it also pile up the atmosphere -- from tv shows, food, and... guess what? Syrup ad in tv :) :)

Not only moslem celebrated it, other people from other religion open their house to visit neighbours :D vice versa
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ned44440, Ireland
Saint Patrick's Day - a day when everyone is Irish
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mounten, Italy
8th December we start making "Zelten" it is a Christmas bread made with a lot of dried fruits and it must be decorated with glace cherry and nuts.Fantastic to hot chocolate or tea yammy yammy!!!!
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Regndroppar, Finland
On the 6th December, Independence Day. Last year the celebration was a big one because it was the 100th year of Finnish Independence, and this special day was even commemorated around the world by lighting up famous sights in Finland's colours. Besides following the official celebration such as a parade of the Finnish defensive forces that takes place in one Finnish city in turn or the ball at the presidential castle (yes, this one! Most Finns like to watch on tv how our president hosts a ball on the Independence Day and shakes hands with the guests: politicians, celebrities like actors, athletics, musicians, embassadors and other people who have contributed remarkably to the Finnish society), in my family we have traditionally baked the first Christmas gingerbread cookies on the 6th December. :)
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maroen, Netherlands
On the 5th of December we celebrate " sinterklaasavond". It is very much to explain in English and my English is not very well to explain this very good. When you look for "explanation sinterklaas in English" at YouTube you will find a very good explanation. Sorry
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Flippie, Canada
I'm Dutch but became Canadian, so know we celebrate Santa Claus in-stat of Sinterklaas and I love it!
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ezredax, United States of America
In December we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ as Christmas. There a Posada's (parades of people praying and singing, Mary riding on a donkey with Joseph beside her and being turned away from homes untils finally someone offers then a place in a stable.)

Here gifts are given on January 6, The day the three Kings from the east brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

Many people also Celebrate with gifts of Christmas with Santa bringing children presents on Christmas Eve for them to open on Christmas morning.
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Stenna, Russia
In Russia, the new year is celebrated on the night of December 31 to January 01. Young children believe that Ded Moroz brings gifts under the Christmas tree. Our country is very large and many people are starting to celebrate New Year by the time of the Far East and further closer to Moscow. At midnight, under the chiming clock, we listen to the President’s New Year’s address, drink a glass of champagne and make wishes. A huge number of salutes and fireworks illuminate the sky on this night.
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EmmaJansen, Netherlands
5th of december, Sinterklaas.
We celebrate it every year, since I was a child and I love the celebration more than my own birthday. It's more important than Christmas.
The personal (funny, satirical, sharp and witty) poems and the gifts,the sweets on the table, the soft Sinterklaas-music in the background.
Our pets also get their own poems and gifts...which in the case of the rabbit, they're allowed to consume afterwards.
It's like you're talking about the year together, but in rhyme. Silly jokes or word-jokes are included, sometimes 'surprises' (crafts with a hidden gift) or difficult-to-open-presents, that have layers or have you dig through mud for the gift.
My specialty is the poems, with the word-jokes.

I also love how everyone gets all mysterious and hasty, around the 1st, because there's 4 more days to write poems and they sneak around the shoppingcenter with the wrapped gifts, afraid of walking into the person they're meant for.
Even the adults get that 'spark' of happiness back in the cold winterdays.
I had a meeting with a woman aged 50 today and during our conversation, a horse from the local stables walked by, outside.
I whispered; 'I hear a horse on the roof!' and she immediately got a glowing face and whispered back; 'Ooohhh it's Sinterklaas!'
We bursted out into laughter, it's wonderful how those heroes still have a place in our hearts.
There's no room for depressing winter-thoughts when their warmth and bright lights are visiting the town.
They're like the embodiment of kindness in general, whether a complete and unrecognisable stranger is showing you warmth or one of your loved ones writes you kind words with them as their alter-ego.

I wouldn't want to trade it for anything in the world.
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Kazbug, Australia
I think I want to celebrate Sinterlaas as well as it sounds like so much fun.
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John_Doe, Germany
Every beautiful day is a reason to celebrate. I do not need a date to be cheerful on Commando.
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sharifah, Brunei
December is of course, a favourite especially school kids as its a month of school holiday here in Brunei. This year also is a month of festivities. Many events being organize to full-fill a whole month activity. Our capital has been motor-vehicle-free every Sunday (except month of Ramadhan) for a few years now and this month is extra special because there will be many activities like cycling, fun run, food stalls popping up in the capital. Oh, every sunday the roads in the capital will be closed from 6am to 10am. This is to make way for people juz to walk around with families around the capital without worrying about cars passing by. Also some museums are now open until 12noon on a Sunday morning. There’s a number of museum or galleries in the capital itself open for oublic and the entrance is free like the Royal Regalia where it showcases about our Sultanate royalty, the Historical center where you can learn about our country’s history.

Im not taking any holiday this year but i will still enjoy the motor-vehicle-free sunday with my friends. 😊😊😊. Do look for ‘Bandarku Ceria Brunei Darussalam’ if u want to have a look how our capital looks like. 👍🏻👍🏻😚😚😊😊
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justicepirate, United States of America
We celebrate Hanukkah (started last night) tied in with Christ, as I have Jewish in me, but am also a Mennonite living in New Jersey, USA.
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Darcey1, South Africa
Just Christmas. Nothing AWESOME! that no one else has
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@Darcey1 It doesn't need to be holidays that happen this month — it can be anytime in the year. And South Africa is one of the few countries (maybe the only country?) that celebrates Human Rights Day as a national holiday, so that's definitely special. :)
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kalani, United States of America
In the United States, we have so many traditions because of so many different people. When I was a child living in Hawaii, there was always the threat of a Christmas tree strike, and of course, all the trees had to come from the continental US. But they always came through, and it was such a happy time. Just little presents, but so much love. Mom made a stocking for each of us out of felt, a kind of fabric, and they were huge. She decorated them with glitter glue with our names. Such wonderful memories. Happy ones now, too.

Kalani
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booboo_babies, United States of America
I would like to hear about the little holidays that are often overlooked. Even within the same country, different regions have different traditions. For instance, Abraham Lincoln's birthday (February 12) was a big deal when I was growing up in Illinois. As was Columbus Day on or around October 12. These days, Lincoln's birthday has been replaced by President's Day, which honors all United States Presidents. Columbus Day was especially popular with Americans of Italian descent. Due to controversy about Columbus, it has been replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day in many areas in the United States.
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nm_rockhound, United States of America
Columbus Day!!! Many leftists want to get rid of it but it's too important for our American identity.
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ColorfulCourtney, Germany
I have 3 favorite holidays since moving to Germany: Karneval/Fastnacht, St. Martin's, and Kirmes

Karneval/Fastnacht in the Rhine region is something else. The festivities begin on 11. November (elften elften) at 11:11. There are parties around that time, then things die down a bit until after New Years and pick back up until Schwer Donnerstag, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, when the Narrisch -- "crazy party people" is my nearest translation -- storm the town hall and take the key from the mayor, "ruling" until Fastnacht, the day before Ash Wednesday. There are parades and costumes and dance troupes and cabaret...it is wonderful.

On St. Martin's, which is also on 11. November but has no relation to Karneval, the kids make paper lanterns and there is a parade (with someone on a horse portraying St. Martin) to a bonfire, where everyone gathers and drinks spiced wine and eats warm, soft pretzels (at least, in our town). It is really family-oriented and a warm way to welcome in the Christmas season.

Kirmes celebrates when a town's church was dedicated and is different in every town or city segment. In most places it has evolved into a celebration of the town, neighborhood or city. There is usually a fun fair or at least a small carosel and maybe a game of chance in a small town, and the local clubs sponsor beer and food kiosks. Most Kirmeses are in the summer, and people stay for a long time, socializing and talking to their neighbors and friends. It reminds me of Fourth of July celebrations in the small Upstate New York town in the U.S. I grew up in.
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Alexander9179, Russia
re: nm_rockhound
Identical Americans live on reservations.
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Facella, Austria
In Austria, we have the Krampus Day on 5th December and Nicholas Day on the 6th.

About 2 weeks before Krampus Day, there's a "Krampus Rummel" in every tiny village. They're in the evening, when it's already completely dark. Men dress up as Krampus (they wear fur and really scary horned masks and big cow bells around their waists) and people essentially go to the main square to get beaten up. Every Krampus has a "rod" made out of an animal's tail (usually a cow's or horse's), which they use to hit people on the legs. It's enough to hurt and possibly cause bruises, but not enough to do any real damage. Traditionally, the Krampus punishes the bad children. He puts them in his sack and essentially kidnaps them. That never really happened, of course. It's a dare among younger children to tease the Krampus by yelling insults and not get caught and beaten by him. Krampus Day is mostly celebrated in Western Austria, where I grew up.

On Nicholas Day, Saint Nicholas (Nikolaus in German) comes to every house with children. He has a golden book where all the bad and good things a child did during the year is written. He reads those (mis)deeds aloud and then rewards kids with sweets and little gifts. Traditionally, it was apples and nuts, but these days it's mostly sweets.
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surfclub66, United States of America
nm_rockhound, I agree with you fully. Here in NJ, we celebrate Columbus Day fully. NJ has the largest amount of Italians in the world outside of Italy. We have parades, big Italian dinners and the day off from school. It's a wonderful day.

Alexander 9179, reservations are considered mini sovereign nations not under full US jurisdiction, so they aren't identical. Also, even when Amerindians live elsewhere, whereas most do, they have special rights and privileges that the rest of us don't have, including not having to pay a variety of taxes and they were even exempt from Obamacare. Also, if you read the full articles of the Declaration of Independence, you'll see that our forefathers did not consider them citizens and that Indian aggression and violence and Britain's lack of response and protection was one of the reasons we declared Independence. It wasn't just about taxes. Also, something like 2% of people living in America are actually Amerindian. It's a small minority concentrated in certain areas and even most of them are very mixed. I know someone whose family is the head of a major tribe in the Midwest and yet they are all blond and blue eyed. Some tribes want to start DNA testing so that people who are less than 50% will no longer receive benefits, like Hawaii already does for some specific benefits. Anyway, such small minorities should not be able to wreck the holidays and traditions of the majority.
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Darcey1, South Africa
27 april: Freedom day
16 June:youth day
24 Sept:heritage day
16 dec:Day of reconciliation.

Does anyone else celebrate these?
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vlada_123, Russia
Russia celebrates the New year from December 31 to January 1. This is a wonderful winter holiday! On this day it is customary to give gifts to each other and congratulate your friends and family. Children believe That Santa Claus (an old man with a long beard, traveling all over Russia) brings gifts. New year is a family holiday, which is usually celebrated with the family. Gifts are usually given in the evening. Then all family members sit down at the table, eat delicious food and wait for 1 am. It is at this time that the President of Russia congratulates everyone on the coming New year. His congratulations can be seen on TV.
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@Darcey1 So many interesting holidays in South Africa!
- We have a version of "Freedom Day" here in Portugal, taking place on 25th of April, the day in which the dictatorship ended.
- Our "Youth Day" is actually "Children's Day" and happens on the first of June, but it isn't a national holiday.
- "Heritage day" sounds like something worthy of a holiday! We don't have this in Portugal, but on June 10th we celebrate the day of "Portugal, Camões (our national poet) and the Portuguese Communities". In a way, it is a day to celebrate our heritage too.
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AmitxSahoo, India
India doesn't have any shortage of Holidays. Starting from...

1. January India Celebrate its Republic Day on 26th January.

2. Holi (Festival of Colours) in March (The day varies every year though)

3. Raja Prabha in June (This is the time when Mangoes started to get ripe) This Festival is only celebrated in our state.

4. Ratha Yatra aka Car Festival in July (The origin of this festival is from Puri (70 kms from where I live) also from our state Odisha) However even in different countries they started it.

5. India celebrates its Independence day on 15th August.

6. Dussehra aka Durga Puja (This is dedicated to Goddess Durga) This is the only festival celebrated all over India in all states.

7. Deepavali aka Diwali (The festival of Lights) followed after Dussehra in Late October/ November.

8. Christmas in December and I don't have to mention the date )))

9. New Year's Eve to complete the year.


P.S: These are the Main festivals. In India, different states have their own different Festivals, Foods, Languages.

Merry Christmas in Advance to every Postcrosser. Have an amazing December. ♥
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bandcrab, United States of America
I love this topic and learning about all the world's holidays!

One that I believe is unique to California (and not necessarily the whole United States) is Cesar Chavez Day on March 31. It honors one of the prominent people who fought for migrant rights in our state. My university would shut down for the day to celebrate, and many other businesses do so as well that day.
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Alexander9179, Russia
Re: surfclub66
If not for the Russian fleet, the war of independence in the United States 1775-1783. And the ultimatum of Catherine II,
monarchs from the UK: if you do not remove the blackmail, your fleet will be destroyed! There would be no united states.
And then with the Southerners, understood the most difficult period of the Civil War in the United States. The government of Alexander II sent the shock forces of his fleet to New York and San Francisco (1863–1864). Against the armies of France and Britain.
And yours only knew, to pay for the scalps of Indian women and children ...
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Wonderwoman12, Taiwan
Our most important festival is Chinese New Year , we have dinner with grandparents , than get th red envelope from them.
It’s a good night.
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betslets, United States of America
I live in the "country of Texas" USA, and when I first moved here and got a job working with a Texas State government agency, I discovered that there was an average of one holiday every month (which I guessed was a way for employees to get an extra day off) but discovered these recognized important days in Texas history.
Of course, we had most of the usual national holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and Independence Day (July 4 in the USA), etc.
But there also was (and still is) Confederate Heroes" Day, Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day, Emancipation Day -- all commemorating events in Texas history -- and famous Texan congressman and former US President, Lyndon B. Johnson's Birthday in August.
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vlada_123, Russia
Also in Russia the following holidays are celebrated:
March 8-women's Day. On this day we congratulate mothers, daughters and girlfriends.

February 23-Defender of the Fatherland day. On this day we congratulate all men: fathers, sons and friends.

May 9-Victory day. On this day, parades and festivals are held throughout Russia.
Passes immortal regiment - all residents walk down the street systems and carry portraits of their relatives who fought during the great Patriotic war.
In my school on this day a great holiday: children tell poems, and old veterans come-grandparents who fought in the war and survived.

May 1-may 5-spring and Labour day. Usually on this day we remove dry leaves and garbage on the street.

There are so many holidays that I can't name them all.
But now I have written the most famous of them.
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mary_gentili, Italy
In Italy Christmas is a very important festivity. Around 8th December, people start preparing the tree and the "presepe", that is a nativity scene with statuettes: it's set in a stable or a cave where are Mary, Joseph, an ox and a donkey, while around there are shepherds who play zampognas, the archangel, the guiding star and any social class people (but mostly poor). Then in 25th at 0 am you add Jesus at the scene. In any Italian regions, there are peculiar traditions so it's quite normal finding different Christmas habits, like for the decorations, food, folklore and religious rituals.
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Kotromanic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia and Herzegovina we have have whole bunch of holidays because of dense and complicated political and demographic structure of country . Basically, there are three different nations living here, Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslim - Bosniaks.
Universal holidays are:

1. March - Independence day - Celebrated as a day that Bosnia and Herz. regained it's independence from Yugoslavia.

25. November - Statehood day - This day is celebrated as a day when modern pillars of country were made, and when people of BiH decided that Bosnia will be country of everyone, no matter of religion, nation or language.

29. August - Although this holiday isn't celebrated in the whole country, it celebrates the medieval event of making Kulin ban chapter or Povelja Kulina bana (in Bosnian), which is one of the oldest written documents of medieval Kingdom of Bosnia and it's High King Tvrtko I Kotromanic.

These holidays are being celebrated by number of formalities that include military marches, official ceremonies and during these days it's a day off at work.

As for traditional holidays, every constitutive people ( Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks) have their holidays:

Muslim Holidays:

Ramadan and Ramadan Eid - One of the biggest muslim holidays in Bosnia. During the 30 days of Ramadan, Bosnian muslims do ritual fasting ( not eating from sunset to sundown), praying and so on. On the last day of their fast they celebrate Eid Ramadan by familly gatherings, cooking traditional food and sweets.

Kurban Eid - This one holiday is being celebrated by sacrificing sheep or a cow. It's tradition since Ottoman empire came to this region.

Christian/Bosnian Croats holidays:

Christmas, obviously is being celebrated as a biggest holiday. People here get day off and celebrate with their famillies. All the cities are usually being decorated in this time.

Easter, which is one of my favourite holidays here, although I'm not a Christian. People gather to color the eggs, have a good time together and so on.

Bosnian Serb/Orthodox holidays:

Serbs also celebrate a Christmas, but it's not held on 25. december, but rather 2 weeks later in January. it's almost the same type of celebration as in Christian Christmas, just different date.

Serbs celebrate their Easter called Vaskrs around the same date Christians celebrate theirs.

Serbs also celebrate different days of holy patrons, and every family has their patron, and the day they celebrate. It's being celebrated by cooking different traditional meals, having lots of drinks, and family gatherings.

And also, whole Bosnia and Herzegovina celebrates the New Year, TOGETHER!

Cheers!
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meidans, Netherlands
Besides Sinterklaas we celebrate in the Netherlands Koningsdag on april 27. It's the birthday of our king and nearly everybody is dressed in orange. Their are lots of activities that day for young and old, depending on the place where you live. There is the 'vrijmarkt' where people can sell their stuff they don't need anymore and make someone else happy who can buy it for a small price. There is music and the royal familly usually visits two places in the Netherlands which you can see on tv or if you live nearby at the place itself.
May 5th is Bevrijdingsdag where we celebrate the end of WW2. The evening before we remember the people who died and are silent at 20.00 o'clock. The king places flowers at the mobument at the Dam in Amsterdam and througout the country the same is done at other monuments. I allways experience this as very special.
May 5th is, at least every 5 years, an official day free from work and school. It depends on where you live how extensivly it is celebrated.
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ned44440, Ireland
All of our Holidays, individual and collective, show that we can be different together.
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Volpe97, Italy
🇮🇹 Well, the most felt holiday in Italy is Christmas, and I love its colors, lights etc 😍 But I like the meaning of other national days too, such as:

-March 17th (1861) unification day (though the north-east and Rome were still missing and not part of Italy)
-April 25th (1945) end of the 2nd war and liberation of Italy from occupation and from totalitarism. In my city we particularly remember this day because in the previous days a big riot had spread all over the city resulting in its self liberation.
-May 1st, workers's day.
-June 2nd (1946) exile of the King and beginning of the Republic.
AND... December 8th, because in Italy we prepare our Christmas tree on this day 😄🎄🎁
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Nana805, France
Today, 6th of December, in the North of France, and also Belgium, Netherlands ... we celebrate St Nicolas
He brings sweets to the children that have been nice !
In France, he gives « coquilles » a kind of sweet bread
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AsEWiese, Germany
Today is Nikolaustag! And in the mornig the children find Chocolate Nikolauses and or other gifts in their 'boots, socks or sackets brought by St. Nikolaus (?) by night. My kids foud this morning selfmade sockets with selfmade cookies, often winterfruits and nuts beside their shoes.
My oldest kid (19 years) is not at home for one year and he recieved his gift in a package a few days ago.
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FABIO, Brazil
In the month of December here in Brazil we usually celebrate on 08 the patron saint in our state, on the 24th to 25th Christmas festivities.
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elanj123, United States of America
December 25th Christmas. Just wondering if there could be a calendar of monthly suggestion prompts in advance :.)
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p_penelope, United States of America
I live in California, United States, and Cesar Chavez Day is a state holiday (March 31). Cesar Chavez was a Chicano labor rights organizer. A similar federal holiday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is the third Monday in January and honors the slain civil rights leader -- it became a holiday in 1986, 18 years after he was assassinated.
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Ninulenka, Russia
On December 22, the Day of the Power Engineer is an annual event, a professional holiday of those people, thanks to whom there is light and heat in our homes. By the way, the date chosen for Energy Day has its own definite symbolism. December 22 is also the Winter Solstice Day, the longest night of the year begins in the Northern Hemisphere. Well, when, if not this evening, the work of energy industry workers becomes important, thanks to which light and heat come to our homes.

Energy Day is called one of the most socially significant professional holidays. Indeed, without exaggeration, the entire existence of our country, the work of industrial enterprises, schools, hospitals, and the daily lives of people depend on the workers of this industry.
Energy system in Russia
Today, our country ranks fourth in the world in terms of electricity generation and the export of electricity abroad.

The Russian Unified Energy System (UES) consists of 70 regional energy systems. They are grouped into seven interconnected power systems by country’s districts: East, Siberia, the Urals, Middle Volga, South, Center and North-West. All these power systems operate in a synchronous mode, they are connected by high-voltage power lines with a voltage of 220-500 kilovolts.

The capacity of all power plants in Russia is almost 240 GW. At the same time at the moment there are more than one and a half thousand power plants in the country. Our annual electricity production is 1,053.8 billion kW / h.
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