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The month of May celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage, a broad term that includes all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. This commemorative month began as a congressional bill, then became officially recognized as Asian-Pacific Heritage Month when it was signed into law in 1992.

Read more on our Heritage Month Guide.

1. Flowers of May (Flores de Mayo) (5/1-5/31): Philippines

During the month of May, Filipinos celebrate the rains that fall after the long dry spell, bringing with them beautiful blooming flowers. They give praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the "Queen of May," decorating the Church altars and aisles with the fragrant flowers, along with other devotions and festivities. The culmination of the festivities is a procession called the Santacruzan ("Festival of the Holy Cross") to the Church where an evening mass is celebrated.

3. Paul G. Hearne (1950-1998): People with Disabilities

Hearne was a founder or officer of virtually every national organization devoted to people with disabilities. He started the first legal services office and ran the first job placement agency for those with disabilities; he served as director of the National Council on Disability and was influential in writing the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. He also helped to start and run the Dole Foundation for Employment of People with Disabilities, the Association of People with Disabilities, and the Disabilities Study Group. Born with a debilitating disorder that limited his growth to four feet tall and caused him to spend his childhood in body casts and traction until he was 15, Hearne finally was able to enroll in a new school for the disabled, the Human Resources Center in Albertson, New York.

4. George Tupou V (1948–2012): Tonga

This commemorates the birth of George Tupou V, King of Tonga from 2006 until his death in 2012. When Tupou became king upon his father's death in 2006, he had to postpone his coronation due to the rioting of pro-democracy demonstrators in the capital city of Nuku'alofa. By the time of his coronation in 2008, Tupou had implemented radical changes, including a renunciation of most of his powers and the establishment of democratic parliamentary elections.

5.  Cinco de Mayo: Mexico

The French attempted to occupy Mexico and make it part of its empire under Napoleon III, probably in an attempt to offset the growing power of the United States. On the morning of May 5, 1862, under General Ignacio Zaragoza, five thousand ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians defeated the French army in what came to be known as the Batalla de Puebla, which later was called Cinco de Mayo. The holiday tends to be celebrated more among Chicanos in the United States than in Mexico. This holiday is a time for fun and dance. People of Mexican descent in the United States celebrate by having parades, mariachi music, folklorico dancing, and other types of festive activities.

6. Children's Day (Kodomo No Hi) observed: Japan

Formerly known as Tango No Sekku or Boys' Day, Children's Day is celebrated by attaching wind socks in the shape of carp to poles. The carp symbolizes perseverance, power, and strength. A special meal including a rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves is served.

10. Constitution Day: Micronesia

This public holiday commemorates the adoption of the constitution on May 10, 1979 by the people of the four states of Micronesia: Kosrae, Yap, Pohnpei, and Chuuk. The draft of the constitution had been made four years earlier by the Micronesian Constitutional Convention. Micronesia finally achieved independence in 1986.

13. Our Lady of Fatima Day: Portugal

This commemorates the miracle of the vision of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to shepherd children on May 13, 1917.

16. Laylat al-Miraj: Islamic

This holiday, known as the “Night of the Ascension,” commemorates one of the most important events in the history of Islam—the nighttime journey of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he ascended to heaven and was told by Allah of the Muslims’ duty to pray five times daily (Salat). Muslims observe this day by attending special prayer services at a mosque or reciting special evening prayers at home.

17. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954): African American

On this date the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously issued its historic decision holding that segregation in public education was a denial of the right to equal protection under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and directed the lower courts to oversee the desegregation of the nation's schools "with all deliberate speed." This decision, which established the principle that segregation is unconstitutional, overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessey v. Ferguson(1896) and formed the legal basis for integration and the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s.

21. World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development: International

On December 20, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly declared May 21 to be a new international day called the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. This day, first observed on May 21, 2003, is a time for communities throughout the world to educate themselves about cultural diversity and learn how to live together harmoniously. The holiday came about as a result of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France, on November 2, 2001 in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

25. Memorial Day observed: United States

Originally a day of remembrance for those who died for the Union in the Civil War, this national holiday, observed on the last Monday in May, now honors those who gave their lives in all wars. (A number of southern states also have designated days for honoring the Confederate dead.) Many American families observe Memorial Day as a time for paying respects to deceased family members.

28. Restoration of Statehood Day: Armenia

On this day, Armenians celebrate the establishment in 1918 of the first republic following the genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire and the collapse of the Russian Empire under the Czars.

 

The entries for this calendar have been adapted from the Electronic Diversity Calendar (TM). Used with permission.

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