“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
- Eckhart Tolle, German writer, 1948 -
November is the time to look back, reflect and catch up with what is left to do for the rest of the year. It is also the time to give thanks for what we have, as it is the harvest season before winter.
Chronologically, the month starts with All Saints’ Day (1st) and All Souls’ Day (2nd) for the Christians, also known as Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico. The festival is rich in family and community traditions. To discover it light-heartedly, here is the trailer for the Disney-Pixar animated film ‘Coco’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Next, in Thailand and some Indochina countries, people give thanks to the Goddess of Water around this time of the year by placing floating ritual vessels (lotus-shaped rafts decorated with candles, incense and flowers) on the water; the festival is known as Bon Om Touk (7th-9th) for the Cambodians and Loi Krathong for the Thai (8th). The Floating Lantern Festival (8th-9th) Yi Peng is another popular celebration in northern Thailand. Many people launch paper lanterns into the sky for good fortune.
For people in many western countries, the 11th is Armistice/Veterans/Remembrance Day. It is an important day because it marked the end of World War I in 1918. On the day, Veterans of both World Wars are honoured. Ironically, thanks to Alibaba’s e-commerce campaigns, the day is better known in Asia as Singles’ Day for the annual shopping extravaganza. On the 15th, Japanese families celebrate the Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3) Day as the rite of passage for three- and seven-year-old girls, five-year-old and sometimes three-year-old boys. Last but not least, cometh the last Thursday of the month (24th), many in the USA will take off as they celebrate the Thanksgiving weekend with their families.
As for national day celebrations this month, there are many: e.g., Antiqua & Barbuda (1st), Dominica & Ecuardo (3rd), Tajik Republik (6th), Cambodia (9th), Poland and Maldives (11th), etc., etc. It is indeed a busy month if you have friends all over the world!
A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.
Many of us with Asian heritage (or have enjoyed Chinese dim-sums) are familiar with chrysanthemum tea, but did you know that chrysanthemums are the birth month flower for November? Did you also know that chrysanthemums are one of the world’s most popular flowers, second only to roses?
Yes, since ancient times, the Chinese have loved the chrysanthemums. Scholars regard the “stately” flowers as the “Gentleman/Hermit” amongst the others (“花中隐士” “花中君子”) and often featured them in their works (paintings, poems, etc.). One also finds potted chrysanthemums as much-appreciated decorations in Chinese gardens and homes because they are symbols of good fortune, happiness, rejuvenation, longevity and nobility.
In Japan, the 16-petal chrysanthemum is the ‘national’ flower and the Imperial Emblem. The Japanese Emperor’s throne is called the Chrysanthemum Throne, and the royal chrysanthemum emblem is printed on the Japanese passport cover. The Japanese love chrysanthemums so much that the flowers appear as decorations, patterns on kimonos, food plating, etc. and even on its 50 yen coins.
Chrysanthemums are bright and cheery and come in various shapes, sizes and colours. Traditionally, they are given to moms on Mother’s Day because the flowers are also referred to as “mums” in some countries. Nevertheless, like many flowers, depending on the colour, giving chrysanthemums may convey different meanings; e.g. in Japan, you can give red chrysanthemums to those you respect or loved ones, but white chrysanthemums are a “no-no” because these are used for funerals and graves, even though for some cultures, white may symbolise virtue and honesty.
In this month of reflection, I would like to thank everyone reading this. You receive this Newsletter because we have crossed paths one way or another. I am grateful for our exchanges and what you have shared with me along the way, and I look forward to more.
The French novelist Marcel Proust once said, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom!” Here is a virtual bouquet of colourful Chrysanthemums for you – symbolising friendship, happiness and well-being for November! Yes, thank you for helping me grow!
“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
- David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk, writer, 1926.
For this Thanksgiving, be it a delicious roast Turkey feast or a simple, sincere thanks, the sense of gratitude is what warms our hearts. So, please join me in distributing your beautiful bouquets of colourful Chrysanthemums to those you appreciate!
“May the colours of chrysanthemums cheer and warm your heart this November!”
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Crossing Cultures – Beyond Boundaries