On behalf of the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, every month we’re highlighting different holidays and events that are celebrated by people around the world. DEI Celebrations in April include the ends of Passover and Deaf History Month; National Autism Month; Easter; Ramadan; Earth Day’ and Arbor Day.
Passover (Began March 27, Ended April 4)
Passover is a Jewish celebration to represent the Israelites being led out of Egypt, also know as the Exodus. The standard length is eight days and it begins with either one or two nights of seder, a specific feast. Individual celebrations may vary, but there are certain things to expect at seder, including prayers and a seder plate. This contains a number of things including unleavened bread (matzoh), bitter herbs (maror), and more.
The matzoah, or unleavened bread, represents the speed in which the Israelites left Egypt. Their bread didn’t have time to rise, so they honor this during Passover celebrations. Learn more about Passover
Deaf History Month (Began March 13, Ends April 15)
This month actually spans two, as it ends April 15. The reason for this comes down the significant days for the Deaf community in history. The first was April 15, 1817, when the first permanent public school for the deaf was established in Hartford, Connecticut. The second recognizes the signing of the Gallaudet University charter on April 8, 1964, by President Abraham Lincoln. This established the only university in the world that exists only for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Finally is March 13, 1988, when the Deaf Now protest took place, which resulted in the first Deaf President of Gallaudet University. Read more from the National Association of the Deaf
Autism Awareness Month
The entire month of April is dedicated to autism awareness. Autism, a brain disorder that can affect a person’s ability to communicate, respond, and form relationships, is considered a growing health crisis by the United Nations. Ten years ago, 1 in 125 children were diagnosed. In 2020, the rate of prevalence increased to 1 in 54.
With a goal of increased awareness, organizations try and educate the public about signs and symptoms of autism, as well as ways to celebrate differences and encourage kindness. April 2 is celebrated as World Autism Day, where people are invited to wear blue.
Easter (April 4)
This celebration features both religious and secular traditions. The roots of the holiday tie back to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah whose life and teaching define Christianity. For Christians, it is a week of remembrance beginning with Palm Sunday the week before and leading to Good Friday (the crucifixion) and then the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Church services throughout the week are common, with Friday being a time of reflection on the cross and Sunday a celebration.
Outside of religion, Easter is a fun spring holiday celebrated by many. While most of the traditions, including coloring eggs, stem from religious symbols, today they standalone. The Easter Bunny delivers baskets of goodies and candy to children. Easter Egg Hunts are common ways communities and churches celebrate.
Ramadan (Begins April 12)
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and viewed as the most sacred. According to the Prophet Mohammed, Ramadan sees the gates of Heaven opened while the devils are chained in a locked Hell. It was during Ramadan that God first revealed the beginning of the Quran to Mohammed during the Night of Power.
Muslims who observe Ramadan will spend every day, from dawn until sunset, fasting as it is a time of spiritual discipline where they can examine their relationship with God and strengthen their faith. But it is not necessarily a somber time, despite the fasting. Instead, this is a time of joy that is meant to celebrated with families and loved ones. Learn more about Ramadan >>>
Earth Day (April 22)
Every year, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 as a way to show support for our environment. Activities are held that support this initiative and people are reminded to be mindful of how we treat our planet. Plus, we have a GSWNY patch challenge designed to help you celebrate!
Arbor Day (April 30)
Arbor Day is all about caring for our trees! It’s a day of observance where both individuals and organizations plant trees. While many countries celebrate, the date will vary based on planting seasons.