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Multicultural & Religious Holidays



January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Special Notes for Religious Celebrations

BAHA’I: The dates refer to the Baha’i day which begins at sunset on the preceding day and ends at sunset on the date listed.
BUDDHISM: Holy Days are synchronized with the phases of the moon; thus they vary from year to year according to the Gregorian calendar. ***
CHRISTIANITY: Some Holy Days have the same date each year; others vary from year to year.
HINDUISM: The dates change each year, based on the lunar calendar.
ISLAM: The dates are based on actual sightings of the crescent moon. *
JUDAISM: All Jewish holidays begin and end at sundown on the dates listed. **
SIKHISM: The calendar is based on the length of the tropical solar year, instead of the lunar cycle.

January 2015

Jan. 1:New Years Day (Traditional), is observed in all the countries following the Gregorian Calendar.

University Holiday

Gantan Sai also known as Shogatu (Shinto), New Year popularly celebrated in Japan. New Year festival observed with prayers for inner renewal. Japanese welcome in the New Year with prayers for renewal of hearts, good health and prosperity. They wear their best clothes and visit shrines in large numbers. During the seven days of the holiday, people visit one another’s homes to offer good wishes for the New Year.

St. Basil’s Feast Day (Greek Orthodox Christian), the New Year is celebrated to commemorate the kindness and generosity of St. Basil towards the poor. St. Basil was the forefather of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Holy Name of Jesus (Orthodox Christian) is kept on the First Sunday in the year; but if this Sunday falls on January 1, 6, or 7, the feast is kept on January 2nd.

Jan 3: Eid Milad UnNabi (Islam), commemoration of the birthday of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). The Shia Muslims celebrate this day five days later.

Jan. 4: Feast of the Holy Name (Catholic Christian) the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus which is kept on the First Sunday in the year; but if this Sunday falls on January 1, 6, or 7, the feast is kept on January 2nd.

Jan. 5:Twelfth Night (Christian) observance of the close of Christmastide and prelude of Epiphany which begins the next day.

Guru Gobindh Singh’s Birthday (Sikh), the last of the ten Gurus

Mahayana (Buddhist), New Year is celebrated by the Buddhists on the first full moon day in the April month of the Georgian calendar.

Jan. 6: Epiphany (Three Kings Day-Dia de los Reyes), is celebrated twelve days after Christmas; it marks the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus

Feast of the Theophany (Orthodox Christian), Feast to recall the revelation of the Trinity in Christ’s baptism.

Jan. 7: Nativity of Christ (Orthodox Christian)

Jan. 13: Magahi (Sikh), observed to honor the heroic battle of the Forty Liberated Ones who laid their lives to save Guru Gobind Singh.

Jan. 14: Orthodox New Year (Russian), was celebrated on January 13th /14th in the 20th and 21st centuries

Bikrami Sankranti (Varhsa-Pratipada)-(Hindu), New Year celebrated particularly in South India, Diwali, another Hindu New Year, is the more popular in the UK.

Jan. 16: Tu B’shvat ** is “The New year for the Trees” (Jewish), is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. (Starts at sundown on the 25th).

Jan. 17: Blessings of the Animals (Some Hispanic Christians), observe this day to show respect for the domestic animals that matter a lot to people. Observed on various dates – especially related to St. Francis.

Jan. 18 – 25: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; during this week Christians pray for the restoration of unity between churches of the Christian faith.

Jan. 18: World Religion Day is observed by the Baha’i’ is to enhance and commemorate interfaith harmony and understanding.

Jan.19: Martin Luther King Day, commemorates the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. who was born on January 15th, 1929. One of the world’s best known advocates of non-violent social change, King was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 1964. He was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, and remains a symbol of the struggle for civil rights.

Timkat (Orthodox Christian)

Jan. 21: St Agnes Day (Christian) commemorates the martyrdom of Agnes who was martyred at the tender age of 13. She gave up her life for her faith and is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, mentioned by name in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron saint of chastity, gardeners, girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins.

Jan 24: Vasant Panchami (Hindu) celebrates spring, or Basant, and Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of learning and the arts. This is the time when some children begin learning the 50 letters used in the Sanskrit alphabet.

Jan. 25: Conversion of St Paul (Some Christians), celebrate this day to mark St Paul’s conversion to Christianity; when he was faced with the vision of Jesus while on his way to persecute Christians and became an avid supporter of Jesus. Observed at worship services.

Jan. 31: Birthday of Guru Har Rai (Sikh), was the seventh Sikh guru

February 2015

Black History Month, Canadian History Month

Feb. 1: National Freedom Day

Triodion (Orthodox Christian), time period leading up to Lent. The liturgy involves hymns, odes and scriptures

Four Chaplains Sunday (Christian and Jewish), celebrate the event that occurred during the Second World War in which four chaplains of Jewish and Christian traditional gave their life jackets to others as a troop ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean.

Feb. 2: Candlemas Day (Christian, Wiccan & Pagan), is a purifying ceremony to commemorate new beginnings (with the light) in Christianity the day marks when Mary took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem 40 days after his birth. It has also been a day for weather predictions: “If Candlemas be fair and clear, two winters you will have this year,” leading to the celebration of Groundhog Day which originated in Germany.

Groundhog Day (USA & Canada), is based on the old belief that if the sun shines on Candlemas Day, or if the groundhog sees its shadow when it emerges from its den, we will experience six more weeks of winter.

Imbolc (Wiccan), is celebrated by the Pagans and is also referred to as Candlemas it is celebrated to commemorate the awakening of the land and the rising power of the Sun.

Feb. 3: Rissun (Shinto) is a spring festival that marks the division between winter and spring and is celebrated with beans.

Feb. 11: Feast Our Lady of Lourdes (Christian), commemorates the day in 1858 when St Bernadette had her first vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Feb. 14: St. Valentine’s Day (Traditional), is now more of a secular than a religious festival and is celebrated almost all over the world now. This day is celebrated by the exchange of gifts that convey affection and love. The history of this holiday cannot be traced with any one origin with authenticity. One version of the story tells of a priest named Valentine who would secretly marry people forbidden to wed by law. The emperor believed that he could form a larger and stronger army if men remained single and had no family ties. Valentine was arrested and beheaded on February 14th. Since he was a champion of love, he came to be known as the patron saint of lovers.

Feb. 15: Parinirvana -Nirvana Day ** (Buddhist), this day is celebrates and marks the death anniversary of Buddha. Pure Land Buddhists call the festival “Nirvana Day.” Parinirvana is celebrated by some Buddhists on 2/18th.

Cheesefare Sunday also known as Forgiveness Sunday (Orthodox Christian) is final day of Pre-Lent and orthodox Christians eat dairy products till Easter.

Feb. 15: Transfiguration (Orthodox Christian), celebration of commemorates the experience on Mt Tabor when Jesus physical appearance became brilliant as his connection with traditional Jewish holy figures became evident to the disciples.

Feb. 16: President’s Day (USA), originally honored President Washington and Lincoln and now serves as a reminder of the contribution of all U.S. Presidents.

Feb 17: Maha Shivaratri (Hindu), day that honors Shiva, one of the Hindu deities

Shrove Tuesday also known as Mardi Gras (Christian) is the last day before Lent. Many people celebrate this day or days prior to it by having carnivals. In England, “Shrove Tuesday” became when people went to church to “confess” their sins.

Feb 18: Lent Begins (Orthodox Christian) and is observed seven weeks before Orthodox Easter. This is the time for reflection and preparation for the Holy Week and Easter by fasting, giving charity and worshipping.

Ash Wednesday (Christian), observe this day to mark the beginning of the 40 day season of Lent; the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness. To show atonement and remorse ashes are marked on worshippers.

Feb 19: Chinese New Year (Confucian/Daoism/Buddhist), based on the lunar calendar 2015 marks the “Year of the Goat.

Losar meeting “Start” (Tibetan Buddhists), It is the most important holiday in Tibet marketing the Tibetan New Year. Celebrations for this festival last for three days from today.

Feb. 26 – Mar. 1: Intercalary Days (Baha’i), It involves the insertion of days into the Baha’i calendar in order to maintain their solar calendar.

March 2015

Women’s History Month, Irish-American History Month, Greek-American Heritage Month

Mar. 1: St David’s Day (Christian), St David was a Celtic Christian saint who was known for his wisdom and missionary work. He is also known as the Dewi Saint and is the Patron saint of Wales.

Orthodox Sunday – Orthodox Christian

Mar 6: Women’s World Day of Prayers (Multi-faith), observance and has been a tradition since 1887, celebrated on the first Friday of March.

Mar. 2: Meatfare Sunday (Orthodox Christian) is two weeks before the start of Lent to prepare the faithful for the resurrection of Christ. This is the last day for the eating of meat before Lent.

Read Across American Day (National)

Mar. 2-20: Start of Nineteen Day Fast (Baha’i), fast from sunrise to sunset during this period.

Mar. 3: Hina-Matsuri (The Festival of Dolls)-(Shinto), to celebrate and honor the daughters in the family.

Mar. 5: St. Piran’s Day (Christian), He is the patron saint of Cornwall and tin miners. He was of Irish decent and legend has it that he discovered the process for smelting tin.

Purim (Jewish), mark the time when the Jewish community living in Persia was saved from genocide due to, because of the courage of a young Jewish woman named Esther. On Purim the Hewish indulge in extreme merry making, give out charity and share food with friends.

Holi (Hindu), spring festival, it is celebrated with great fun and fervor and involves showering each other with color and merry making.

Magha Puja Day (Buddhist), this day marks an event early in the Buddha’s teaching life when a group of 1250 enlightened saints, ordained by the Buddha, gathered to pay their respects to him.

Mar 6: Hola Mohalla (Sikh) After Holi, celebrates Hola Mohalla in which mock battles are fought and fetes of martial arts are displayed along with religious discussions and music at Anand sahib.

Mar. 17: St Patrick’s Day (Christian), observance for St Patrick’s is the patron saint of Ireland who brought Christianity to Ireland in the early days of the faith.

Mar. 19: St Joseph’s Day also known as the Feast of St Joseph, and in some churches as the Solemnity of Saint Joseph is celebrated in some Christian Churches to commemorate St Joseph, the spouse of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus.

Mar. 20: Spring Equinox (Eoster) is observed to celebrate the renewed life that comes with the arrival of spring.

Ostara (Southern Hemisphere-Pagan), celebration of welcoming of spring.

Mar. 21:Nau Ruz (Baha’i) New Year

Shubun Sai (Equinox Day)-(Shinto), Spring Memorial Service is held at home altars to revere ancestors as kami. Gravesites are cleaned and purified.

Hindu New Year

Mar. 25: Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Christian) commemorates the angel Gabriel’s message to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the incarnation of Christ.

Mar. 28: Khordad Sal (Birth of Prophet Zaranhushtra) the birthday of Zoroaster; celebrated by the Zoroastrians according to the Fasli calendar. Also known as the Greater Nauroz.

Rama Navami (Hindu), festival celebrating the birthday of Lord Rama. This day is celebrated by telling stories and going to temple.

Mar 29: Palm Sunday (Christian Palm Sunday), celebrating by the Christians to commemorate the entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. It is the sixth and last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of the Holy Week.

April 2015

Arab-American Heritage Month, Tartan (Scottish-American) Heritage Month

Apr 2: Maundy Thursday (Christian) commemorates this day in honor of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and established the ceremony known as Eucharist.

Apr 3: Good Friday; celebrated by the Christians to commemorate the execution of Jesus by crucifixion and is observed on the Friday before Easter

Apr 4: Holy Saturday, celebrated by the Christians to mark the seventh and last day of the Holy Week, it is the last day before Easter,

Apr 4 – 11: Pesach Passover (Jewish), a festival celebrated each spring to recall the Jew’s deliverance out of slavery in Egypt in 1300 BC. It is a celebration of freedom, the first two nights of Passover a traditional Seder Meal is eaten and story is retold and passed down from generation to generation. This is an eight day celebration during which no bread or leavened food is eaten.

Apr 5: Easter (Orthodox Christian), celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, his return from death after the crucifixion. It is considered to be the most important Christian festival.

Apr 6: Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is an official holiday in some Christian countries and in the state of North Carolina.

National Tartan Day

Apr. 14: Vaisakhi also called Baisakhi (Sikh), New Year festival, which also marks the founding of the Khalsa a distinctive Sikh brother hood, founded by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Apr 15: Yom HaShoah is the Holocaust Remembrance Day, a secular rather than a religious holiday established by the government of Israel. There are a variety of memorable observances both in Israel and the USA. Holocaust Memorial Day begins at sunset to nightfall the next night.

Apr. 21-May 2: Ridvan (Baha’i) commemorates the Bahaullah’s declaration of prophet hood. It is the most important event in Baha’i calendar and is celebrated for twelve days with work being suspended on the 1st, 9th, and 12th of the festival.

Apr. 22: Earth Day, first observed in the U.S. in the 1970’s it is celebrated to remind people of our environment and how our habits affect our environment.

Apr. 23: St Georges Day, is patron saint of England he is known for his martial valor and selflessness

Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day), celebrates the day on which modern Israel became an independent state (5/14/1948)

May 2015

Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, South Asian Heritage Month, Haitian Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month

May 1: Beltane (Northern Hemisphere Wiccan), Pagans celebrate the unison of the god and goddess which is believed to be the basis of all creation. This festival is celebrated with maypole dances.

May 2: Ridvan 12th Day (Baha’i) commemorates the time when Bahaullah’s family departed from the Garden of Ridvan.

Ascension Day (Orthodox Christian), celebrate this day 40 days after Easter to commemorate the final earthly appearance of Jesus after his resurrection. The Christians believe that Jesus ascended into heaven.

May 4: Visakah Puja (Buddha Day), is the most important say in the Buddhists calendar, this day commemorates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.

May 5: Cinco de Mayo, mean “The fifth of May” in Spanish. This day commemorates a battle that was won on this day in 1862 during the years that the Mexicans were struggling to drive foreign armies from the country and became an independent nation. In the USA this day is celebrated in a zesty spirit with parades, food, musical events and dances.

May 6: National Nurse Day

May 7: Lag B’Omer (Jewish), observance to mark the thirty-third day of the counting of the Omer.

May 10: Mothers Day, in 1872, Julia Ward Howe (author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) suggested this day be dedicated to peace. Mother’s Day meetings were held yearly in Boston, MA on this day. In 1907 Ana Jarvis began a campaign to establish a National Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May. It took four years and in 1911 it was proclaimed a national holiday. Countries celebrating Mothers Day are the USA, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium.

May 15: Lailat UI Mairaj, Muslims commemorate this day to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and his ascension to heaven.

May 16: Armed Forces Day

May 20: Emergency Medical Services for Children Day

May 21: Declaration of the Bab; Siyid’, Ali-Muhammad declared himself to be the Bab, or the Gate of God, on the 23rd of May in 1844. This date marks the beginning of the Baha’i faith.

May 24: Shavuot (Jewish), observance to celebrate the giving of the Torah; God’s gift to the Jewish people, which is a guide for how to live in this world. It occurs seven weeks after Passover.

Pentecost (Christian) is the seventh day after Easter. Celebrated by the Christians to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples in the form of tongues of fire and rushing wind. A traditional day for baptism and confirmation of new Christians.

May 25: Memorial Day (USA), was first observed in 1868 to honor the dead of the Civil War. It has come to include lives lost in all wars.

University Holiday

May 29: Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i), death anniversary of Baha’u’llah

June 2015

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Pride Month, Caribbean American Heritage Month

June 1: Lailat al Bara’ah (Islam), celebrated as the night of forgiveness by the Muslims.

June 4: Corpus Christi (Catholic Christian), celebrated in honor of the Eucharist.

June 9: Saint Columba of Iona (Christian) recognition of Columba who began the famous community of Iona off the coast of Scotland in 563.

June 14: Race Unity Day (Baha’i)

Flag Day (USA), is observed to celebrate the history and the symbolism of the American Flag.

June 16: Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth of the Sikh Gurus and the first Sikh martyr. He was responsible for compiling all the writings of all the past gurus and formulating the Sikh Holy Scripture known as the Guru Granth Sahib.

June 18: Ramadan Begins (Islam), month of fasting begins (starts at sundown on the 17th)

June 19: Juneteenth; also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day and is observed as a public holiday in fourteen states of the U.S. This is an African-American celebration that honors the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas and Louisiana finally heard they were free, two months after the end of the Civil War. June 19th, therefore, became the day for independence for thousands of African Americans.

June 21: Father’s Day (USA), the idea for creating a day for children to honor their father began in Spokane, Washington. A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea for Father’s Day while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Having been raised by her father, after her mother’s death, she wanted her father to know how special he was to her. Sonora’s father was born in June, so she echoes to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910. In 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday.

Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and occurs on or around June 21-22nd.

June 23: Midsummer Eve Festivals observed in Northern Europe and are Pagan in origin. Celebrated at the height of the brilliant northern summer before the first harvest, this has always been one of the most popular festivals in Northern Europe, especially in Sweden.

June 28: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Pride Day (USA), this event emerged from the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, when patrons of a gay New York nightclub, The Stonewall Inn, resisted police attempt to raid the club.

June 29: St Peters Day, observed by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches to honor the disciple chosen by Jesus to give leadership to the church.

July 2015

French-American Heritage Month

July 2: Asala-Dharma Day (Buddhist), commemorate the anniversary of the start of the Buddha’s teachings-his first sermon, “The Wheel of Truth”, after he achieved Nirvana.

Asalha Puja Day (Buddhist)

July 3: Independence Day

University Holiday

July 4: Independence Day (USA), Traditional, the declaration of Independence was signed on this day in 1776. This document proclaimed the independence of the thirteen colonies from allegiance to the British Crown and the dissolution of all political ties with Great Britain.

July 9: Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i), anniversary of the Bab’s execution in Tabriz, Iran in 1850.

July 13: Lailat UI Qadr (Islam), celebrated by the Muslims in the last ten days of Ramadan to commemorate the first revelation of the Holy Quran. It is also known as the night when destinies are decided and Muslims pray to Allah for a good destiny.

July 13-15: Obon (Shinto) Japanese Buddhist festival to honor deceased ancestors. Involves lighting of bonfires, traditional meals, paper lanterns, folk dances.

Ulambana-Obon (Buddhist) celebration of the ritual of saving the deceased from torments after death.

July 18: Eid al Fitr, Muslims celebration commemorating the ending of Ramadan. It is a festival of thanksgiving to Allah for enjoying the month of Ramadan. It involves wearing finest clothing, saying prayers, and nurturing understanding with other religions.

July. 23: Birthday of Haile Selassie I; Haile Selassie (Rastafari) was the Emperor of Ethiopia who the Rastas considered to be God and their Savior who would return to Africa the members of the black community who are living in exile. It marks Haile Selassie the Emperor of Ethiopia’s visit to Jamaica in 1966. The Rastafari movement surfaced in Jamaica among the peasant and working-class black people based on their belief that Haile Selassie was the Savior and that he will return to Africa the members of the black community that living in exile. The Rastafari movement propagated through the interest in reggae music most notably that of Bob Marley the Jamaican born singer and song writer.

July 24: Pioneer Day, observed by the Mormons to commemorate the arrival in 1847 of the first Latter Day Saints pioneer in Salt Lake Valley.

July 26: Tisha B’Av, observed by the Jewish to commemorate the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the years coincidentally on this day.          

August 2015

Aug. 1: Lughnasadh (lammas-Wiccan), a Pagan harvest festival of Celtic origin splits the year into four.

Lammas (Christian) first fruits celebration observed by placing break baked from first harvest on the altar, from the Celtic Christian tradition.

Aug. 4: National Night Out (USA), begun in 1998, is a fun and low-key way to fight crime by meeting your neighbors through a barbecue, ice cream social, or other function.

Aug. 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic) observance and commemoration of their belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary the mother of Jesus was taken body and soul into heaven.

Dormition of the Theotokos (Orthodox Christian) commemorates and marks the death and burial of the Virgin Mary, Dormition means to “fall asleep”.

Aug. 17: Birthday of Marcus Garvey (Rastafari), celebrated by the Rastas to commemorate the birthday of Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican politician who foretold the crowning of a King in Africa, and instigated the “Black to Africa” movement.

Aug. 29: Beheading of John the Baptist (Christian), commemorates this day to remember the death of John the Baptist who is known to prepare the people so that they could recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Raksha Bandhan (Hindu) celebrates and honors the loving bond that exists between a brother and a sister.

September 2015

Sept. 1: Ecclesiastical (Orthodox Christian), Church Year begins.

Sept. 7: Labor Day (USA and Canada), the first Monday in September is celebrated with picnics and parades honoring workers in the two countries.

University Holiday

Sept. 5: Janmashtami, Krishna Jayanti (Hindu), celebrated and commemorates Krishna’s birthday, Krishna is the highest and most revered go in the Hindu religion.

Sept. 8: Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Birthday, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches mark this day to celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sept. 11: Patriot Day (USA) is in honor of the event of 9-11.

Ethiopian New Year, (Enkutatash), celebrate their New Year on this date and believe that Ethiopia is their spiritual home, a place where they desire to return.

Sept. 14: Holy Cross Day (Christian) commemorates and recognizes the Cross on which Jesus was crucified as the main symbol of Christianity.

Sept. 14 – 16: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is a time of introspection, abstinence, prayer and repentance. The story of Abraham is read, the ram’s horn is blown, and special foods are prepared and shared.

Sept. 16: Mexican Independence Day commemorates the 1810 revolution that ended Spanish dictatorship. The Independence Day festivities in Mexico begin at midnight on the day of the holiday. At that time, in villages, towns, and cities all over Mexico, the people gather at the “zocalo” or public square. There are bands playing and people throw confetti and wave flags. At midnight the president (or in mall towns a local public official) reads the “Grito de Dolores” of Father Hidalgo, the organizer and principal leader of the rebellion against the Spaniards. The people chant the “Grito” after the president. He then rings the independence bell as fireworks light up the sky and the dancing and singing continues.

Sept. 18: Paryushana (Jain) celebrates the most revered festival comprising of right or ten days of fasting and Repentance.

Sept. 21: International Day of Peace was first observed by the United Nations General Assembly in1982.

Sept. 22: Mabon (Northern Hemisphere-Pagan), commemoration of the autumnal equinox when day and night are of equal length, also celebrated as a time for harvest festivals.

Hajj (Islam) the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah; observed by the Muslims as the festival of sacrifice marking the day after Arafat. The Day of Arafat is the most important day in the Hajj ritual, this is a four day holiday is Islamic countries.

Sept. 22-23: Yom Kippur celebrated by the Jewish as the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, also known as the Day of Atonement and is observed with strict fasting and ceremonial repentance.

Sept. 23-26: Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice is the most important feast of the Muslim calendar. It concludes the Pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid al-Adha lasts for three days and commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son. Muslims believe the son to be Ishmael rather than Isaac as told in the Old Testament. Ishmael is considered the forefather of the Arabs. According to the Koran, Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son when a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead. The feast re-enacts Ibrahim’s obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family eats about a third of the meal and donates the rest to the poor.

National Native American Day (USA) is not an official government holiday, however most American Indian organizations and tribes do observe this holiday.

Sept. 28-Oct. 4: Sukkot (Jewish), also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated by the Jewish to commemorate the years that the Jews spent in the desert en route to the Promised Land, and celebrates the way in which God took special care of them under difficult circumstances.

Sept. 29: Michael and All Angels (Christian) celebration of angels as companions who help fight off the power of evil and who are present at the hour of death.

October 2015

Italian-American Heritage Month, Filipino American Heritage Month, Polish American Heritage Month

Oct. 4: Saint Francis Day, Christians celebrate St Francis Day to honor Saint Francis the founder of the Franciscan Monastic Order for his services to the people and for appreciation of the natural world.

Dussera (Dasera), celebrated by the Hindus to commemorate Rama’s victory over evil.

Oct. 5: Shemini Atzeret observed by the Jewish as the assembly of the eighth day, In Israel it is celebrate along with Simchat Torah.

Oct. 5-6: Simchat Torah (Jewish) observance and commemorates the completion of the yearly cycle of weekly Torah readings. The literal translation of Simchat Torah is “Rejoicing in the Torah.”

Oct.13- 21: Navaratri (Hindu) festival of the divine mother honoring Durga, wife of Shiva, and seeking her blessings, also observed as a celebration recalling the days of Lord Krishna.

Oct. 11: National Coming Out (USA), Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people marched on Washington for gay and lesbian equality. This was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capitol and the first display of the NAMES Projects Quilt, remembering those who have died from AIDS. The momentum continued four months after this march as more than 100 gay, lesbian, and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Virginia, about 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the GLBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary to that march on Washington to mark it.

Oct. 12: Columbus Day (USA), recognizes the encounter of the New World in 1492 by Christopher Columbus.

National Indigenous People’s Day, in 1992, drums from across the USA and time zones coordinated ceremonies and observances at 12 p.m. to celebrate and honor 500 years of resistance and the survival of North American Indigenous people. From that day to present Native Americans observe Indigenous People’s Day, not Columbus Day.

Thanksgiving (Canada)

Oct. 14- Nov. 11: Muharram (Islam) Islamic New Year also marks the migration of Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Makka to Medina.

Oct. 16: Boss’s Day (USA)

Oct. 20: Birth of the B’ab observed by the Bahia to celebrate the birthday of the founder of the Bahia faith.

Oct. 24: Ashura (Islam) the day of Ashura or the tenth day of the first Islamic month is observed by Muslims as a whole. Shia Muslims observe Ashura to mark the martyrdom of Hussain. This day also commemorates the day when Noah left the ark, and when Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God.

Oct. 31: Reformation Day (Protestant Christian) marks the anniversary of their tradition and its emphasis on the place of the Bible and religious freedom.

Halloween, celebrated by the Christians as the night before All Saints Day (All Hallows Day), this tradition dates back over 2000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Also celebrated by the Pagan as the Feast of the Dead, Pagans also celebrated it to commemorate the Celtic New Year.

Somhain (Southern Hemisphere Wiccan), Pagans celebrate the unison of the god and goddess which is believed to be the basis of all creation. This festival is celebrated with maypole dances.

November 2015

National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, Latin American Month

Nov. 1: All Saints Day, celebrated by the Anglican and Roman Catholic Christian’s to honor all known and unknown saints.

Nov. 1- 2: El Dia de los Muertos (All Saints Day) is a national holiday in Mexico and is also celebrated in parts of the USA. Mexicans regard this annual holiday as a happy occasion that reunites them with the souls of loved ones. This two-day celebration honors the souls of dead children on 11/1 and Honors the souls of older relatives and friends on 11/2. Families decorate tombs in the graveyard and home altars with toys, favorite foods, flowers, bread figures, incense burners, and elaborately fashioned candlesticks. On the morning of the second day people gather in graveyards and serenade the spirits with brass bands and mariachi music. The dead are never forgotten because once a year they are honored during this annual holiday.

Nov. 2: All Souls Day (Catholic and the Anglo Catholic) to honor the faithful departed by praying for the souls of people who are Purgatory, All Soul’s Day is celebrated on 3rd of November if the 2nd is a Sunday.

Coronation of Emperor Haile Sailasse I (Rastafari) celebrate the coronation of Haile Sailasse the Emperor of Ethiopia, Rastas trust Haile Selassie is God, and that he will return to Africa members of the black community who are living in exile.

November 11: Veteran’s Day

Diwali (Hindu, Jains, and Sikh) celebrates the festival of lights, the most colorful and popular festival celebrated with great fervor by Hindu, Janis, and Sikhs.

Nov. 12: Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i), the members of the Baha’i faith celebrate the birthday of the founder of the Baha’i region.

Nov. 13: Remembrance Sunday, a multi faith celebration observed on the second Sunday of November and is marked by ceremonies at war memorials and cenotaphs to remember those who gave their lives in fighting.

Armistice Day is celebrated on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to commemorate the ending of the First World War that ended in 1918. Also known as Veterans’ Day

Nov. 22: Christ of the King (Christian) celebrate the preeminence of Jesus over all earthly authorities.

Nov. 24: Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur the Sikh commemorate the martyrdom of their ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Nov. 25: Day of Covenant, (Baha’i) celebrate the covenant of Baha’u’llah, also celebrates the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha on this day.

Nov. 26: Thanksgiving (USA) University Holiday

Nov. 27: University Holiday

Ascension of Adbu’l-Baha (Baha’i) marks the death of the son of Baha’u’llah.

Nov. 29-Dec.24: Advent Sunday Christians prepared to celebrate for the birth of Jesus. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest November 30 and is the beginning of the Christian worship year. This festival is marked by lighting candles, laying wreaths and special advent ceremonies and these celebrations continue till Dec. 24th.

Nov. 30: Saint Andrews Day is celebrated in honor of Saint Andrews, the patron saint of Scotland, Greece and Russia.

December 2015

Dec. 1: World AIDS Day has become an annual day of recognition of AIDS-to remember those who have died, to acknowledge the need for continued commitment to care for those who are HIV/AIDS positive and to support the research to find a cure.

Dec. 6: Saint Nicholas Day (Christian) celebration of the birth of Saint Nicolas, patron saint of children and role model for gift giving, many churches named for this saint who is also the Dutch version of Santa Claus.

Dec. 7-14: Chanukah also known as Hanukkah (Jewish) also known as the Festival of Lights is an eight-day festival recalling the war fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom and the rededication of the temple after recapturing it from the Syrians. Each evening candles are lit on the “menorah” (candelabra), adding one candle each night. Janukkaj is a time for playing games and singing, for visiting and for giving gifts.

Dec. 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrated by the Roman Catholics to commemorate the Virgin Mary’s conception as being without sin and therefore immaculate

Bodhi Day observed by the Buddhist to commemorate Gautama’s attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, India.

Dec. 10: International Human Rights Day established by the United Nations in 1948, commemorates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Dec. 12: Feast Day-Our Lady of Guadalupe observed by the catholic Christians commemorating the legendary appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 c.e.

Advent Fast Begins (Orthodox Christian)

Dec. 13: Saint Lucy’s Day, Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Christians commemorate Saint Lucy the patron saint of the blind on this day. She was a virgin martyr who lived in Sicily in the third century.

Dec. 16-24: Las Posadas also known as Navidenas (Mexico-Christians) includes processions and parties reenacting Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.

Dec. 21: Winter Solstice or the first day of winter occurs on or around December 22. This is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere; Yule (Christians); Yule (Wicca-Northern Hemisphere); Litha (Wicca-Southern Hemisphere).

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve

Dec. 25: Christmas (Christian) is the day associated with Jesus birth. It is celebrated on December 25th by Western churches and on January 7th the following year by Eastern Orthodox churches.

University Holiday

Dec. 26-Jan. 1: Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday started by Mailana Karenga, an African world scholar, in 1966. It is based on the agricultural celebrations of Africa called “the first fruits” celebrations, which are times of harvest, gathering, reverence, commemoration, and recommitment. Therefore, Kwanzaa is a time for achievements, reverence for the Creator and creation, commemoration of the past, recommitment to cultural ideals, and celebration of the good. Kwanzaa, a Swahili word, means “first”, Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths.

Dec. 28: Holy Innocents Day Christian day of solemn memory of male children killed by King Herod in the attempt to destroy Jesus.

Dec. 31: Watch Night (Christian) occasion to thank God for bringing people safely through another year

New Years Eve

Maintained by HR Office of Organizational Development and Staff Diversity. Please send your comments and suggestions to: Stanley Byrd, HR Director, Organizational Development and Staff Diversity.