The Hunt for October

The World Series will take place between October 21 and October 29.  Major League Baseball  playoffs will begin October 3rd.  The New York Mets and New York Yankees are both strong contenders as they were the first to clinch their respective divisions.   Mets fans have reason to expect highly of their team as they dominated in what was considered to be a “weak” National League.  Are they World Series bound?  Will they meet the Yanks for another Subway World Series?  Or perhaps the supporters from other cities will get to cheer their teams on to victory?  The Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and LA Dodgers are all bidding to become world champs.

While many Americans will be watching playoff baseball, two of the world’s major religious groups will either be observing Ramadan or Yom Kippur during the month of October, 2006.

Ramadan began on September 24 and will end with the festival of Eid al-Fitr on October 24.  During Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast from all food and drink each day while the sun shines.  Each evening, after sunset, they are allowed to break the daily fast until dawn the next day.  Most Muslims have a pre-dawn meal, followed by fasting and then a dinner meal after sunset.  During this time, they are required to focus on Allah, read the Quran, do good deeds and be charitable to the poor.  On the last night of Ramadan, which is Eid al-Fitr, people decorate their homes with lights, give treats to the children, and gather with friends and family.

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, begins at sunset on October 1 and ends just after sunset on October 2.  Yom Kippur is a full 25 hour fast, during which time, Jews repent of sin and seek reconciliation with God. They are also to refrain from work and spend most of the day at a synagogue.  Orthodox Jews will typically be in the synagogue starting at 8 or 9 AM and then go home for a nap around 3pm.  They will return to the synagogue around 5pm for the evening services.  Services end at nightfall with a long blast of the shofar.

October 9, 2006 is Columbus Day, which was instituted to honor Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492.  Residents of New York City first celebrated this event on the 300 year anniversary in 1792.   Although it has been celebrated annually since 1920, it was not until 1971 that it became a federal holiday.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31.  This observance originated as a part of Celtic tradition about 2000 years ago.  With the passing of summer and the beginning of the long, dark winter, they believed that the ghosts of the dead came back to earth.  They would build huge bonfires and sacrifice animals and crops as to the Celtic deities.  During the celebration, they wore costumes and attempted to tell fortunes for one another.  The Romans and others added to this tradition and observance until the 7th Century when Pope Boniface IV declared November 1, All Saints Day.  This was a time to honor saints and martyrs.  Most believe Pope Boniface IV simply instituted a church sanctioned holiday to replace what some viewed as a Pagan observance.

Additional Resources for October: