Calendar of Religious Observances

 

This calendar is not an exhaustive list of religious traditions nor the holidays observed in those traditions. If we have not included a religious tradition or major religious holiday of significance to you, please notify the Eller Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team so it might be included in future editions of this calendar.

While we have made efforts to verify the accuracy of the information included here, some inaccuracies may remain. Please bring to our attention any you notice. The dates of some holidays vary according to region, culture or strand of a tradition.


Upcoming Observances

Some individuals observing certain holidays may request time away from school/work or may engage in spiritual practices like fasting. At Eller, we strive to be respectful and accommodating of all religious beliefs.

date observance tradition description
Nov 1 All Saints Day Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Christian celebration of the lives of all the saints, especially those not having a special day.
Nov 2 All Souls Day Roman Catholicism Catholic Christian observance in memory of all the faithful who are deceased. In some Latin cultures, this day is known as "The Day of the Dead" or "Día de los Muertos".
Nov 24 Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji Sikhism This day commemorates the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji (1621-1675), the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurus. He is remembered not only for his defense of the Sikh faith, but also of Hinduism and of religious liberty.
Nov 25 Day of the Covenant Baha'i Celebrates the anniversary of the appointment of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the son of Baha'u'llah, as the Center of the Covenant.
Nov 27 - Dec 24 Advent Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Period of four weeks in which Christians prepare for Christmas and meditate on the end of all time. In Western churches, the first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the Christian liturgical year.
Nov 28 - Nov 29 Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha Baha'i Commemorates 'Abdu'l-Baha's death.
date observance tradition description
Dec 8 Bodhi Day Buddhism In the northern tradition, this is the anniversary of the Buddha's Enlightenment, ca. 596 BCE. In the southern tradition, the Buddha's Enlightenment is celebrated during Wesak. The dates and names of Buddhist celebrations vary significantly among cultures and communities.
Dec 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholicism A feast day that celebrates the belief that Mary, mother of Jesus, was born without sin.
Dec 18 - Dec 26 Hanukkah Judaism The "Feast of Lights" or "Feast of Dedication" is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 BCE, which re-established for a time their religious and political freedom.
Dec 21 - Jan 1 Yule Paganism Winter Solstice, celebrating the longest night and the blessings of darkness as well as the rebirth of the sun god.
Dec 25 Christmas Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.
Dec 25 Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ Orthodox Christianity Celebrates the anniversary of the birth (nativity) of Jesus.
Dec 26 Death of Prophet Zarathushtra Zoroastrianism The anniversary of the death of the founder of the Zoroastrian faith.
Dec 31 - Jan 4 Ghambar Maidyarem Zoroastrianism Celebrates the creation of animals. Zoroastrians are encouraged to remember their practice of the equitable sharing of food during this observance.

Past Observances

date observance tradition description
Oct 4 - Oct 5 Yom Kippur Judaism Day of Atonement. This is the most holy day in the Jewish year. It is devoted to fasting and prayer, as people ask G-d and each other for forgiveness.
Oct 7 - Oct 8 Mawlid an-Nabi Islam The birthday of the Prophet Muhammed.
Oct 9 - Oct 11 Sukkot (first two days) Judaism Festival of thanksgiving and harvest.
Oct 12 - Oct 16 Ghambar Ayathrem Zoroastrianism Celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of the winter crop, and the return of herds from pasture.
Oct 16 - Oct 17 Shemini Atzeret Judaism The eighth day of Sukkot, on which special memorial prayers are said.
Oct 17 - Oct 18 Simchat Torah Judaism

Celebrates the conclusion of the yearly cycle of reading the Five Books of Moses and its beginning anew, thus demonstrating that study is a never-ending process.

Oct 20 Installation of Granth Sahib Ji as Guru Sikhism

This day celebrates Gobind Singh Ji's passing on guruship to Scripture, henceforth known as the Guru Granth Sahib.

Oct 24 Diwali (Dipavali) Hinduism Perhaps the most popular of all Hindu festivals, also known as the Festival of Lights, it is dedicated to the goddess Kali in Bengal and to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in the rest of India. As with several other festivals, Diwali is associated with one of the stories about the destruction of evil by Vishnu in one of his many manifestations.
Oct 24 Diwali / Mahavir Nirvana Jainism This "Festival of Lamps" celebrates the attainment of Moksa by Lord Mahavira. A burning lamp symbolizes the "light of knowledge," which dispels the darkness of delusion and ignorance.
Oct 25 - Oct 26 Birth of the Bab Baha'i The anniversary of the birth of the Bab, the herald of the new age for Baha'is. the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel, is part of the World Center of the Baha'i faith.
Oct 26 - Oct 27 Birth of Baha'u'llah Baha'i The anniversary of the birth of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith.
Oct 31 Reformation Day Protestantism Commemorates the beginning of the Protestant Reformation of Christianity with Martin Luther's challenge to the Roman church in the sixteenth century C.E.
Oct 31 - Nov 1 Samhain Paganism The New Year and the final harvest festival, celebrating the last gifts of the Earth before winter and the return of the spirits of the dead.
date observance tradition description
Sep 12 - Sep 16 Ghambar Paitishem Zoroastrianism Celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of the winter crop and the return of herds from pasture
Sep 20 Mabon Paganism Autumnal equinox and the second harvest festival, celebrating the equivalence of light and dark, the arrival of Autumn, and thanksgiving for the Earth's bounty.
Sep 25 - Sep 27 Rosh Hashanah Judaism The Jewish New Year and the anniversary of the creation of the world, Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Ten Days of Awe (also known as the Ten Days of Repentance) that conclude on Yom Kippur. It marks the beginning of the holiest time of the year for Jews.
Sep 26 - Oct 4 Navaratri Hinduism A nine-night (nav-rat) celebration of nine auspicious forms of Shakti/Devi (feminine divine power/the Goddess).
date observance tradition description
Aug 8 Ashurah ('Ashurah) Islam For Sunni Muslims, it is a voluntary fast day. Many important events are believed to have occurred on this day, such as Noah's leaving the Ark and the freedom and departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt. For Shi'i Muslims, it is a time of mourning commemorating the martyrdom of Husain (the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad) on the 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram.
Aug 11 Raksha Bandan Hinduism Also abbreviated to Rakhi, it is the Hindu festival that celebrates brotherhood and love. It is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Sravana in the lunar calendar.
Aug 15 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Commemorates the assumption of Mary, mother of Jesus, into heaven.
Aug 18 Krishna Janmashtami (Sri Krishna Jayanti or Janmashtami) Hinduism Celebrates the birthday of Krishna. According to the Hindu epics, Krishna was the eighth incarnation of the God Vishnu, opposed to the demon Kansa, who was responsible for the increase of evil in the world. Worship of Krishna is characteristically expressed in dance and song.
Aug 23 - Aug 30 Paryusana Festival Jainism Considered the holiest period of the year, these eight days are marked for Jains by fasting, meditation, prayer and public readings of the life story of Lord Mahavira. Observed especially by the followers of the Shvetambara sect, Paryusana concludes on Samvatsari, the most solemn occasion of self-scrutiny and forgiveness. On this day, Jains ask for forgiveness from their relatives and friends for any offense they may have committed by deed, word or thought.
Aug 30 Ganesh Chaturthi Hinduism A celebration of Ganesh’s birthday, one of the major Hindu deities. Ganesh, who has the head of an elephant, is the God of Success and is invoked at the beginning of all new undertakings.
Aug 31 - Sep 9 Das Laxana Festival Jainism A 10-day festival that is considered to be a holy convocation for the Jain Digumbar Sect. During these days, Jains impose some restraints on their daily activities by fasting, meditation and prayer. The last day of Paryusana is the most solemn occasion of forgiveness and the examination of one's own thoughts and feelings. On this day, Jains ask for forgiveness from their relatives and friends for any offense they may have committed by deed, word or thought.
date observance tradition description
Jul 8 - Jul 12 Eid al-Adha ('Id Al Adha) Islam The "Festival of Sacrifice" falls on the 10th day of the lunar month of Zul-Hijja and is the concluding act of pilgrimage to Mecca. In commemoration of Abraham’s faith, sheep, goats and camels are offered to God, and the meat is distributed to the poor and needy. Eid al-Adha is observed whether or not one is on pilgrimage.
Jul 9 Martyrdom of the Bab Baha'i Anniversary of the martyrdom of the Bab, the forerunner of Baha'u'llah, in 1850.
Jul 13 Dharma Day Buddhism Commemorates the Buddha's first teaching following his enlightenment. The date and name of this Buddhist celebration varies significantly among cultures and communities.
Jul 24 Pioneer Day Latter Day Saints Mormon observance of the arrival of Brigham Young at the site of Salt Lake City, Utah in 1847.
Jul 29 First of Muharram (Ra's al-Sanat Al Hijrivah) Islam The first day of the first month of the Islamic year. This day commemorates the Hijra ("migration") of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., where the first Islamic community was established.
Jul 31 Lammas / Lughnasa Paganism The first harvest festival, celebrating the sacrifices of the Earth and the sun for the harvest and the diminishing strength of summer.
date observance tradition description
Jun 2 Ascension of Jesus Orthodox Christianity The celebration of Jesus' ascension into heaven and enthronement as universal sovereign. It comes 40 days after Easter.
Jun 4 - Jun 6 Shavuot Judaism Shavuot, or "Feast of Weeks", marks the conclusion of the seven weeks following Pesach (Passover). It is a celebration of the harvest of first fruits and commemorates the giving of the Torah and Commandments at Mount Sinai.
Jun 5 Pentecost Protestantism; Roman Catholicism The commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus following his ascension, Pentecost, or "Whitsunday", is considered the "birthday" of the Christian church (Acts 2:1-11). It comes 50 days after Easter (Pascha, Orthodox Easter).
Jun 12 Pentecost Orthodox Christianity The commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus following his ascension, Pentecost, or "Whitsunday", is considered the "birthday" of the Christian church (Acts 2:1-11). It comes 50 days after Easter (Pascha, Orthodox Easter).
Jun 16 Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji Sikhism (1563-1606) The fifth Guru, he built the Golden Temple of Amritsar to emphasize that the Sikh way was open to all, regardless of caste; the temple was constructed with doors facing all four directions. The first Sikh martyr, Arjan is also remembered for his contributions to and compilation of the Sikh Scriptures.
Jun 20 Litha Paganism Summer Solstice, celebrating the longest day and the blessings of light as well as the beginning of the sun god's death.
Jun 27 Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his Brother Hyrum Latter Day Saints The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were assassinated in 1844 while incarcerated in Carthage, Illinois.
Jun 29 - Jul 3 Ghambar Maidyoshem Zoroastrianism Celebrates the creation of water, the sowing of the summer crop, and the harvesting of grain.
date observance tradition description
May 1 - May 4 Eid al-Fitr ('Id al-Fitr) Islam Also known as the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, this day celebrates the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. It comes on the first day of the next lunar month, Shawal.
May 16 Wesak (Buddha Day) Buddhism The commemoration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana, celebrated on the day of the full moon of the sixth lunar month in Southeast Asian cultures; in Tibetan culture, Wesak commemorates only the the enlightenment and parinirvana. The dates of this celebration vary significantly among Buddhist cultures and communities.
May 23 Declaration of the Bab Baha'i Commemorates the day in 1844 on which he announced his identity as the "Bab" ("Gate"), the herald of the new age.
May 23 Ascension of Jesus Protestantism; Roman Catholicism The celebration of Jesus' ascension into heaven and enthronement as universal sovereign. It comes 40 days after Easter.
May 28 Ascension of Baha'u'llah Baha'i Marks the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Baha'i faith.
date observance tradition description
Apr 1 - May 1 Ramadan Islam The Holy Month of Ramadan is the month of fasting during which Muslims who are physically able do not eat or drink from the first sign of dawn until sunset in honor of the first revelations to the Prophet Muhammad. The evening meal is celebrated with family.
Apr 6 Anniversary of the Founding of the Church Latter Day Saints Annual World General Conference of the Church held on Saturday and Sunday closest to this date each year.
Apr 10 Palm Sunday Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, marking the beginning of Holy Week that culminates in Easter or Pascha. In some churches, Palm Sunday is combined with the anticipation of Christ's death and so is also known as "Passion Sunday."
Apr 10 Ramanavami Hinduism Celebrates the birthday of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the God Vishnu. The Ramayana, one of the Hindu epics that tells the story of Rama, is read during the previous eight days.
Apr 13 Vaisakhi Sikhism Occurs on the first day of the solar year. It is primarily an agricultural festival, celebrating the harvest, and is especially important in North India. It is named after the month Vaisakh. For Sikhs, it is also the anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa (the "Brotherhood of the Pure") in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh.
Apr 14 Holy Thursday / Maundy Thursday Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Commemorates the institution of the Lord's Supper/the Eucharist by Jesus prior to his arrest and execution. "Maundy" is derived from the Latin text of John 13:34, in which Jesus gives a mandatum novum ("new commandment").
Apr 14 Mahavir Jayanti Jainism Celebrates the birthday of Lord Mahavira. Born with the name Vardhamana in ca. 599 BCE, he was later given the titles of honor, Mahavira ("Great Hero") and Jina ("Conqueror" or "Victor"), a title applied also to the other Tirthankaras.
Apr 14 Vaisakhi (Baisakhi) Hinduism Occurs on the first day of the solar year. It is primarily an agricultural festival, celebrating the harvest, and is especially important in North India. It is named after the month Vaisakh. For Sikhs, it is also the anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa (the "Brotherhood of the Pure") in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh.
Apr 15 Good Friday Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e., his death by crucifixion.
Apr 15 - Apr 23 Passover (Pesach) Judaism Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated for eight days with special prayers and symbolic foods at home, starting with the Seder, a ritual meal that re-enacts that ancient deliverance and emphasizes the freedom of the Jews under the guidance of God.
Apr 17 Easter Sunday Protestantism; Roman Catholicism Celebrates the resurrection from death of Jesus Christ. It is the oldest and most important festival in the Christian year and initiates the 50-day period culminating in Pentecost.
Apr 17 Palm Sunday Orthodox Christianity Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, marking the beginning of Holy Week that culminates in Easter or Pascha. In some churches, Palm Sunday is combined with the anticipation of Christ's death and so is also known as "Passion Sunday."
Apr 21 - May 1 Ridvan Baha'i Commemorates the 12 days that Baha'u'llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan in the last days of his exile in Baghdad, during which time he proclaimed himself as the one announced by Bab.
Apr 22 Holy Friday Orthodox Christianity The day that commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e., his death by crucifixion. It is the Orthodox equivalent of "Good Friday."
Apr 24 Easter Sunday (Pascha) Orthodox Christianity Celebrates the resurrection from death of Jesus Christ. It is the oldest and most important festival in the Christian year and initiates the 50-day period culminating in Pentecost.
Apr 27 Laylat al-Qadr Islam The Night of Power or Destiny commemorates the first revelation of the Qur'an (the Islamic scriptures) to Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE.
Apr 27 Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Judaism Memorializes the six million Jews who died as victims of the Nazis during World War II and emphasizes respect for human dignity. Its observance is not limited to Jews.
Apr 30 Beltane Paganism The final fertility festival, celebrating the Earth's fecundity and anticipating the power of the sun and the Earth in summer.
Apr 30 - May 4 Ghambar Maidyozarem Zoroastrianism Celebrates the creation of the sky and harvesting of the winter crop.
date observance tradition description
Mar 1 - Mar 19 Nineteen Day Fast Baha'i A designated 19-day period of fasting each year immediately before the Bahá’í New Year. The fasting is seen as a period of spiritual preparation and regeneration for the new year ahead.
Mar 2 Ash Wednesday Protestantism; Roman Catholicism A special day of repentance observed by Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians to mark the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance, and self-denial preceding Easter. The name derives from the practice of marking of the faithful with ashes to signify penitence.
Mar 4 Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti Hinduism Celebrates the birthday of Sri Ramakrishna, teacher of Swami Vivekananda.
Mar 7 - Apr 23 Great Lent Orthodox Christianity In Orthodox churches, the first day of Lent marks the beginning of the Great Fast, the final six weeks of a 10-week period leading up to Holy Week and Easter (Pascha). In the churches that follow the Gregorian calendar, Lent is a six-week observance (40 days excluding Sundays) beginning with Ash Wednesday and culminating in Holy Week. It is a time of repentance and sacrifice in preparation for Easter.
Mar 16 - Mar 20 Ghambar Hamaspathmaedem Zoroastrianism Celebrates the creation of human beings and honors the souls of the deceased.
Mar 16 Purim Judaism The "Feast of Lots" celebrates the rescue of the Jews of ancient Persia from a plot to destroy them as related in the Book of Esther, which is read at this time. Purim is a joyous holiday, celebrated by wearing of costumes, giving gifts to friends, giving to the poor, and socializing. Preceded by the Fast of Esther, Purim is a day of feasting.
Mar 17 Laylat al-Bara'ah Islam On this night, God approaches the Earth to call humanity and to grant forgiveness of sins. Observed on the 14th day of the lunar month of Sha'ban.
Mar 18 Holi Hinduism A joyous spring Hindu festival that is dedicated to Krishna in some parts of India; in other parts of India, it is dedicated to Kama, the God of Pleasure. People throw colored water or colored powder in celebration.
Mar 19 Ostara Paganism Vernal Equinox, celebrating the equivalence of light and dark and the arrival of Spring.
Mar 20 Naw Ruz Baha'i The seventh greatest festival, "New Day" is the first day of the Zoroastrian/Persian and Baha'i New Year. It falls on the spring equinox and symbolizes the renewal of the world after the winter. For Zoroastrians, Naw Ruz also celebrates the creation of fire that is symbolic of Asha, or righteousness. It is also the day on which Zarathustra received his revelation.
Mar 21 Naw Ruz Zoroastrianism The seventh greatest festival, "New Day" is the first day of the Zoroastrian/Persian and Baha'i New Year. It falls on the spring equinox and symbolizes the renewal of the world after the winter. For Zoroastrians, Naw Ruz also celebrates the creation of fire that is symbolic of Asha, or righteousness. It is also the day on which Zarathustra received his revelation.
Mar 26 Birthday of Prophet Zarathustra (Khordad Sal) Zoroastrianism The anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Zoroastrian faith.
Mar 31 Hydesville Day Spiritualism On this date in 1848, the discarnate soul of Charles B. Rosna communicated via the mediumship of the Fox sisters heralding the advent of Modern Spiritualism.
date observance tradition description
Feb 1 Imbolc Paganism The first fertility festival, celebrating the approach of spring and the growth of light in the darkness.
Feb 5 Vasant Panchami (Sri Pancami) Hinduism One of many festivals to honor the advent of spring, this day is celebrated particularly in North India, where it is associated with Saraswati, the goddess of learning; however, it also retains connection with the goddess Lakshmi.
Feb 15 Nirvana Day Buddhism In the northern tradition, it commemorates the parinirvana of the Buddha. In cultures of Southeast Asia, the buddha's parinirvana is remembered during Wesak.
Feb 27 Laylat al-Isra'wa al-Mi'raj (Mi'raj al-Nabiy) Islam Commemorates the ascension (al-Mi'raj) of the Prophet to heaven following his night journey (al Isra') from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascent to heaven and return the same night.
Feb 28 Maha Shivaratri Hinduism A feast dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. The night before the feast fasting is observed, texts are recited, songs are sung, and stories told in honor of this God whose cosmic dance creates, preserves, destroys, and recreates the world.
Date observance tradition description
Jan 3 Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666-1708), the 10th and final Sikh master, created the Khalsa, the "Brotherhood of the Pure," and declared the Scriptures, the Adi 'Granth, to be the Sikh's Guru from that time on.
Jan 6 Epiphany

Protestantism; Roman Catholicism

Signifying the end of the 12 days of Christmas, Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Three Kings to the infant Jesus as the occasion of the manifestation of the Christ to the gentiles.
Jan 6 Theophany Orthodox Christianity Commemorates the baptism of Jesus and the manifestation of the Trinity.