The Holidays of November: An Exploration

Shefali Joshi (she/her), Reporter

It’s that time of the year! The festive time that’s full of autumn decorations, Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas songs!


November is best known in the United States as “the month that Thanksgiving is in”, but there are so many different holidays and celebrations in November around the world; each one is unique to its own country and the culture of its people. 


Guy Fawkes Day: November 5

Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated primarily in Great Britain. It is also called by the names “Bonfires Night” or ”Fireworks Night”. The festival was first celebrated when the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a conspiracy started by a group of Catholic men attempting to assassinate the Protestant King James 1, failed. The year 1605 was the first year when the failure of the plot was celebrated. 


This festival used to be called Gunpowder Treason Day, but was later dubbed Guy Fawkes Day in the 18th Century when children roamed the streets dressed up as “The Guy”, asking for a penny. Guy Fawkes was a Catholic part of the failed assasination attempt.


Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated with a night full of booming fireworks and large bonfires. A large part of the tradition is eating a Parking Cake; a sticky cake made up of oatmeal, ginger, treacle, and syrup. Don’t forget the marshmallows toasted over the fire either!

(A Brief History of Guy Fawkes Day-Time,8599,1856603,00.html )*


Veteran’s Day: November 11

Veteran’s Day (also called Armistice Day in France and Belgium and Remembrance Day in Canada) is always on November 11, marking the day that officially ended World War 1. Veteran’s Day is celebrated to honor those who fought and died in the war.


In the US, Armistice Day didn’t legally become a holiday until 1938. The name was legally changed to Veterans Day in 1954 when Congress amended the act of 1938 to honor those who fought in World War 2 and the Korean War.


On Veteran’s Day, most state employees of the US are given a day off of work, if Veteran’s day is on a weekday. If it lands on a weekend, the closest weekday to the day of Veteran’s Day will be considered a holiday.


Diwali: November 4

Diwali (also referred to by the names Deepavali, Deepawali, and Diwali) started on November 4th this year, but it varies every year based on the Hindu Calendar. Diwali takes place on the 14th day of the month (Ashwayuja), and lasts for seven days. Each day represents a different value of the Hindu religion.


Diwali is the Festival of Lights. During this time, people make special home-made meals to celebrate the occasion. Everyday, a clay lamp (diva) is lit and placed in front of every window. Fireworks and sparklers are a big part of this event, and they can be seen going off anywhere, any time during Diwali! This is a time to spend with your family, and focus on the power of good over evil.




Thanksgiving: November 5

Thanksgiving is an American holiday that takes place on the fourth Thursday of the month (there is a Canadian Thanksgiving in October, though). The Thanksgiving holiday stems from way back when the Mayflower landed in the Americas and the Pilgrims came together to survive this new land they had found. Unfortunately though, the pilgrims were hit with a devastating winter that year, and lost a lot of their food source needed to survive for the winter. Friendly Native Americans saw the suffering of people and decided to help the settlers by teaching them to farm, use different plants as medicines, and how to avoid poisonous plants. Come next winter, the pilgrims were happily settled, and invited the Native Americans to a celebratory feast.


Contrary to popular belief, the feast of 1621 didn’t actually start a long-lasting tradition that we still celebrate today. Thanksgiving only became a national holiday in 1863 after Abraham Lincoln declared it one. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of the month for economic reasons, but it was moved back to the fourth Thursday because of the huge amount of opposition.


Today, Thanksgiving is an annual gathering of family and friends. It celebrates time spent with family with a big feast of turkey and pumpkin, and all of the fall festivities!

(Thanksgiving Day in the United States )*


Hanukkah: November 28


Hanukkah (Chanukah) is a Jewish holiday that lasts for 8 days on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev. Hanukkah starts on sundown, and celebrates good over bad, and a small miracle. 


The story goes that the King of Jerusalem, King Antiochus (168 BCE), was destroying temples and burning books. When a group of soldiers came upon a town, a group of men resisted, resulting in the death of the soldiers. They fled into the mountains, where they remained as they fought the king’s armies. They became known as the Maccabees. When the Maccabees were able to finally return home, the leaders of the town swore to cleanse the temple, but for this they needed fire, and only a small amount of oil was found. The oil needed to last eight more days while a new batch could be made, and it did; the miracle.


Hanukkah celebrates the rededication to the temple of Jerusalem. It is celebrated with religious rituals, old hymns and songs, traditional foods, gifts, and the lighting of the menorah. 

(The Hanukkah Story- How much is true? )*


Special Dates of November!

November has also got some special dates throughout the entire month! 

Look out for: 

  • International Inventors Day (In dedication to Austrian Actress Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler; November 9)
  • Beggar’s Day (Netherlands; November 11)
  • National Button Day (November 16)
  • National Princess Day (Based off of the 1994 film The Swan Princess; November 18)
  • National Cashew Day (November 23)
  • National Espresso Day (November 23)
  • National Parfait Day (November 25)
  • National French Toast Day (November 28)
  • National Lemon Cream Pie Day (November 29)