May Diversity Month – Events, Celebrations
Hispanic Holidays, Africa Day, Religious Observances, LGBT and More
While April brought spring showers, May brings spring flowers – and a colorful mix of diversity events affecting the workplace.
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Cinco de Mayo
On May 5, the Hispanic population of Mexican descent celebrates Cinco de Mayo. It commemorates the Mexican defeat of the French army under Napoleon III in 1862 attempting to conquer Mexico. For a complete list of upcoming events, see our online, multimedia diversity calendar.
Africa Day and Independence!
Many public holidays in May recognize when countries first gained independence and/or established their own constitutions. On May 25, Africa Day honors the independence of Ghana, Mali, Zambia, and Zimbabwe from colonial rule.
May 3 is Constitution Day in both Japan and Poland, which has the second oldest written Constitution after the United States. On May 20, Cuba celebrates its independence in 1902 from the United States after the Spanish-American War.
Holidays in Three Major Religions
For Christians of the Western tradition, May 7 is the Ascension, the day Jesus rose into heaven. May 15 is Pentecost, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles.
Easter in May? But Eastern Orthodox Christians, including Coptic Christians, follow the Julian calendar, beginning their most important religious cycle with Easter on May 1.
Jews celebrate the end of the Passover cycle with Shavuot beginning the night of June 11. Shavuot, as many religious holidays in the spring, combines both seasonal and religious meaning. It commemorates the day Moses received the Torah and the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, but is also the festival of the first fruits.
On May 20th, Theravada Buddhists – who predominate in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma – honor Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and nirvana.
May offers ample opportunity to recognize the contributions of LGBT diversity. May 4 is the birthday of gay pop artist Keith Haring and May 5 of Del Martin, founding member and first president in 1955 of the Daughters of Bilitis.
Labor Day Worldwide
May starts with Labor Day on May 1, celebrated internationally both as a spring holiday, and to honor working men and women. This demonstrates the need for awareness of global differences, as this holiday is not celebrated in the United States or Canada until September.
Native Americans May 24 celebrates the birthday of Native American James Thorpe, chosen best athlete of the first half of the 20th century in an Associated Press poll. Thorpe won the decathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games, and went on to play both professional baseball and football.
See our diversity calendar for a complete list of upcoming events.