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.
Guy Fawkes Day – United Kingdom
Always on November 5th and also known as Gunpowder Day. It dates back to when King James I, an avid Protestant, was crowned king and began persecuting Catholics (unlike “bloody” Queen Mary who did the opposite). Well, as can be expected, a group of Catholics didn’t like this very much and sought to send a bit of a message by blowing up the British Houses of Parliament when the king and his supporter were in the buildings. Their leader was – tick… tick… tick! – Guy Fawkes! He led the infamous Gunpowder Conspiracy of 1605. He was stopped as he was about to light the fuse for all the gunpowder that was set in place for the big bang. And appropriately the day is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires – and effigies of Fawkes. The UK is quite a bunch of tea drinkers, although their tastes are getting more varied. And they have a bonafide tea garden there called Tregothnan. A great tea to celebrate with is Gunpowder (hee! couldn’t resist).
Veteran’s Day – United States
Always on November 11th, this date was called Armistice Day and first celebrated in 1921, but was changed to Verteran’s Day in 1954. It honors those members of the Armed Forces who served and died in any wars or military service. The date was selected since it was the day marking the official end of World War I in 1918. It’s a time for pausing and having a moment of silence – and then a nice hot pot of tea! More and more tea gardens are growing tea here in the U.S., from the garden in Charleston, South Carolina, to the ones in Hawaii. Time to celebrate with a nice blooming/flowering tea.
Labor Thanksgiving Day – Japan
November 23rd is the annual celebration of Labor Thanksgiving Day (勤労感謝の日 Kinrō Kansha no Hi) where thanks is giving to those who perform manual labor in fields and factories. Various festivals are held throughout the country, and school children give drawings of thanks as gifts to local kōbans (police stations). This holiday is the modern incarnation of a harvest festival known as Niiname-sai (新嘗祭?, also read as Shinjō-sai) that possibly dates back as far as the reign of the legendary Emperor Jimmu (660–585 BC). The modern version came about after World War II in 1948. You have several Japanese teas to choose from, so just pick one for your celebration.
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.
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