Celebrating with Darjeeling tea! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Celebrating with Darjeeling tea! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Tea is being cultivated in more and more countries around the world. China and India remain top producers with Sri Lanka and Kenya being close contenders. It makes me and others interested in the culture of these countries, and that includes some of their holidays. So, I have been looking them up and thought I’d start sharing some of them with you as a way of enhancing your experience of enjoying their teas.

Durga Puja – India and Nepal

30 September through 4 October2014 – Durga Puja festival commemorates a victory by the Goddess Durga over an evil buffalo demon named Mahishasura – an allegory for victory of Good over Evil. An important holiday in several states in India, including West Bengal (home of Darjeeling teas), Bihar (home of the Doke Tea Garden, an up and coming contender in the Indian tea world), and Assam (home of Assam teas). It is also celebrated in nearby Nepal (another area where their teas are beginning to gain more prominence among lovers of fine teas).

Double Ninth Day – Taiwan

Double Ninth Day falls on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month of the year. The number “9” is part of “yang” (positive energy), so the festival is sometimes called “Double Yang.” It also represents longevity. The Tawainese celebrate by climbing hills, drinking special wine made from chrysanthemums, and other customs from the Han Dynasty. Originally, these were meant to avoid dangers. These days they provide a reason to enjoy a hike and cool winds of the season, flying kites. Many fine teas come from Taiwan, mostly oolongs. And they continually strive to improve those teas. Enjoy a few to join in the celebration!

Thanksgiving Day – Canada

Yes, north of the border those wonderful folks also celebrate a Thanksgiving day, and yes they are growing tea. Not much yet, but who knows? The holiday was declared on 31 January 1957 by the Canadian Parliament as a day to celebrate harvest during the past year. It is on a Monday (the 2nd one in October), making a long weekend for parades, ball games, family gatherings, and other festivities. A few provinces have this as an optional holiday (Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia).

Diwali/Deepavali – India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji

23 October 2014 – This is the “Festival of Lights” and is a 5-day Hindu celebration (with the main night being on this date to coincide with the darkest new moon night of the month of Kartik) dating back a long time, signifying the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair (same theme as Durga Puja above). The event is marked by cleaning and fixing up homes, dressing up in their best clothes, fireworks, feasting, and gift exchanges with family members. The countries where this holiday is observed are all ones where tea is grown and/or enjoyed very much. Malaysia seems to regard tea almost as an obsession, rivaling the UK and the Irish Republic.

Daylight Savings Time Ends – UK

26 October 2014 – Clocks “fall back” one hour so there are more useful daylight hours, supposedly. Personally, it’s a time when I want my “elevenses” tea time at 10 a.m. and my afternoon tea at 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. It takes a few weeks for my “tea gene” to adjust its internal clock. Tea growing in the UK is at the Tregothnan estate and also some in Scotland. (Clocks in the U.S. aren’t set back until 2 November 2014.)

Halloween – Canada, UK, US

31 October –“All Hallows Eve” was when evil spirits were able to walk among the living and do their mischief. Posting scarily carved squashes (in the UK) and their kin (the pumpkin here in the U.S.) with lit candles in them were said to keep your home safe from these pests. Now they are something to delight the trick-or-treaters. Tea growing in the U.S. is on the rise, with the tea plantation in South Carolina being the best known (see my article here). This date also happens to be Nevada Day in that U.S. state, but no tea is grown there. Just thought you’d like to know.

While you dedicated tea drinkers certainly need no such reasons for drinking a great cuppa, these will help you get a better feel for the source of those teas and may inspire you to a special toast to them all.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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