January 1: TEMPLE DAY • Buddhist
Many Buddhists of all traditions pay their respects and pray for good fortune for the new year at the temple.
January 1: GANTAN-SAI • Shinto
Gantan-sai is the annual New Year festival of the Shinto religion
January 6: EPIPHANY/TWELFTH NIGHT/THREE KINGS DAY • Christian and Protestant
This date is also known as Befana Day; commemorates the revelation of God through Jesus Christ and marks the time the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem and presented gifts to the baby Jesus.
January 7: CHRISTMAS • Eastern Orthodox Christian
Christmas is an annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah whose message and self-sacrifice began the Christian religion.
January 17: WORLD RELIGION DAY • Bahá’í
Observance to proclaim the oneness of religion and the belief that world religion will unify the peoples of the earth.
January 18: DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S BIRTHDAY
The birthday of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated on the third Monday in January.
January 18-22: NO NAME-CALLING WEEK
Annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling and bullying of all kinds.
January 27: UN HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY
BLACK HISTORY MONTH:
Celebrates Black History and African American culture in the United States.
February 1: IMBOLC/CANDLEMAS • Pagan
Also referred to as the Feast of Pan, Feast of Torches, Feast of Waxing Lights, and Oimele. Celebrates the coming of spring and recovery of the Earth Goddess after giving birth to the Sun God at Yule. For many traditions, a time for initiations, re-dedication and pledges for the coming year. One of the four "greater Sabbats."
February 3: SETSUBUM-SAI • Shinto
Setsubum-sai marks the beginning of spring, and is known as the “bean-throwing festival. The faithful scatter roasted beans to bring good luck to the new season
February 8: LUNAR NEW YEAR
On this day Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Year are celebrated.
February 9: SHROVE TUESDAY • Western Christian
A day of penitence as well as the last chance to feast before Lent begins. Also known as Mardi Gras
February 10: ASH WEDNESDAY • Western Christian
The first day of Lent for Western Christian churches, a 40-day period of spiritual preparation for Easter, not counting Sundays.
February 15: NIRVANA DAY • Buddhist
Celebrates the day when the historical Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, upon the death of his physical body. Sometimes celebrated on February 8.
February 22: MAGHA PUJA DAY • Buddhist
Magha Puja Day commemorates an important event in the life of the Buddha, in which the four disciples traveled to join the Buddha.
February 26 – March 1: AYYÁM-I-HA OR INTERCALARY DAYS • Bahá’í
The Ayyám-i-ha, or “Days of Ha” are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, celebrating, hospitality, charity and gift giving. They are celebrated the four days, five in leap year, before the last month of the Bahá’í year.
NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
Honors women as significant agents of historical change.
March 2 – March 20: NINETEEN-DAY FAST • Bahá’í
Baha'is between 15 and 70 years of age do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset and set aside time for prayer and meditation.
March 8: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women worldwide
March 8: MAHA SHIVARATRI • Hindu
Also called Shiva Ratri, it is the Great Festival of Shiva
March 17: ST. PATRICK’S DAY • Christian
Feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. In the U.S., a secular version is celebrated by people of all faiths through appreciation of all things Irish.
March 20: VERNAL EQUINOX • Pagan
The date when night and day are nearly the same length. It marks the first day of the season of spring.
March 20: PALM SUNDAY • Christian and Protestant
A commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as crowds lined his path with palm fronds
March 21: NOWRÚZ • Zoroastrian
A traditional ancient Iranian festival celebrating the first day of Spring and the Iranian New Year. Also celebrated as New Year’s Day in Baha’i tradition (Naw-Ruz).
March 21 INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Call to action to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination worldwide.
March 23: HOLI • Hindu
Also called Holaka or Phagwa, this festival celebrates spring and commemorates various events in Hindu mythology.
March 24: HOLY THURSDAY • Christian
Also known as Maundy Thursday, it is celebrated on the Thursday before Easter commemorating the Last Supper, at which Jesus and the Apostles were together for the last time before the Crucifixion.
March 24: PURIM • Jewish
The “Feast of Lots” marks the salvation of the Jews of ancient Persia from extermination.
March 25: GOOD FRIDAY • Christian
Known as Holy Friday in Eastern Christianity, it commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus on the Friday before Easter/Pascha.
March 27: EASTER • Christian
Known as Pascha in Eastern Christianity, it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.
March 31: CESAR CHAVEZ DAY
Honors Mexican American farm worker, labor leader and activist Cesar Chavez (1927–1993) who was a nationally respected voice for social justice.
April 13: VAISAKHI • Sikh
Vaisakhi is the Sikh new year festival and commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born. Vaisakhi is also a long-established harvest festival.
April 15: RAMA NAVAMI • Hindu
Celebrates the birthday of Rama, king of ancient India, hero of the epic Ramayana, and seventh incarnation of Vishnu.
April 15: DAY OF SILENCE
Students take a day-long vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.
April 22-23: THERAVADA NEW YEAR • Buddhist
In Theravada countries the New Year is celebrated on the first full moon day in April.
April 23–30: PASSOVER/PESACH • Jewish
The eight-day “Feast of Unleavened Bread” celebrates Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
April 24: ARMENIAN GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE DAY
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Recognizes the contributions and celebrates the culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States
May 1: BELTANE • Pagan
The fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.
May 1: EASTER • Orthodox
Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
May 5: YOM HASHOAH • Jewish
“Holocaust Remembrance Day” memorializes the heroic martyrdom of six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust.
May 5: CINCO DE MAYO
In 1862 Mexican forces defeated French occupational forces in the Battle of Puebla.
May 14: BUDDHA DAY • Buddhist
Also known as Vesak or Visakha Puja, it marks the occasion of the birth, spiritual awakening and death of the historical Buddha.
May 15: PENTECOST • Christian
Also known as Whitsunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter/Pascha commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and women followers of Jesus. Marks the birth of the Christian Church.
May 22: NISF SHA’BAN • Islamic
“Night of Repentance” in preparation for the fast of Ramadan. Fixed as the 15th day or middle (nisf) of the eighth month of Shabaan in the Islamic calendar.
May 23: DECLARATION OF THE BAB • Bahá’í
Commemoration of May 23, 1844, when the Báb, the prophet-herald of the Bahá’í Faith, announced in Shíráz, Persia, that he was the herald of a new messenger of God.
May 30: MEMORIAL DAY
Initiated originally to honor the dead of the Civil War, this observance now pays homage to the dead of all U.S. wars.
May 29: Ascension of the Baha’ullah • Bahá’í
Commemorates the death of the founder of the Baha’i faith; Baha’llah died on May 29, 1892.
LGBT PRIDE MONTH
Commemorates the anniversary of the June 28, 1969 Stonewall riot in New York City, the incident that initiated the modern gay rights movement in the United States. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Pride Day is the last Sunday in June
June 6 – July 5: RAMADAN • Islamic
A month of strict fasting from dawn until dusk in honor of the first revelations of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad.
June 11 – 13: SHAVUOT • Jewish
The “Feast of Weeks” celebrates the covenant established at Sinai between God and Israel, and the revelation of the Ten Commandments
June 19: JUNETEENTH
Originally commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, it is now celebrated throughout the U.S. to honor African-American freedom and achievement
June 26: ALL SAINTS DAY • Eastern Christian
In Orthodox churches observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost, it commemorates all known and unknown Christian saints.
July 4: INDEPENDENCE DAY
Anniversary of the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776.
July 6: EID AL-FITR • Islamic
The “Feast of the Breaking of the Fast” marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting from dawn until dusk.
July 19: DHARMA DAY • Buddhist
Also known as Asala Puja, it commemorates the historical Buddha's first discourse following his spiritual awakening.
July 26: ADA (AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT) DAY
Commemorates the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities.
August 1: LAMMAS/LUGHNASADH • Pagan
A celebration of the beginning of the harvest. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.
August 9: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Celebrates the richness of indigenous cultures and recognizes the challenges indigenous peoples face today, ranging from poverty and disease to dispossession, discrimination and denial of basic human rights.
August 15: OBON • Buddhist
Also known as Bon, the Japanese Buddhist festival honors the spirits of past ancestors.
August 17: RAKSHA BANDHAN • Hindu
The Rakhi festivity falls in the holy month of Shravan; The origin and history of Rakhi can be dated back to the mythological Pouranik times.
August 23: INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE SLAVE TRADE AND ITS ABOLITION
Memorializes the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, coinciding with the anniversary of the uprising in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that initiated its abolition
August 25: KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI • Hindu
This two-day festival celebrates the birth of Krishna, a widely-worshiped Hindu god. Krishna is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher, and philosopher.
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
Recognizes Hispanic and Latino American heritage and culture in the United States.
September 5: LABOR DAY (USA and Canada)
The first Monday in September is celebrated with picnics and parades honoring workers in the two countries.
September 8: INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
Call to action for universal literacy.
September 11 – 14: EID AL-ADHA • Islamic
The “Feast of Sacrifice” concludes the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), and is a three-day festival recalling Ibrahim‟s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.
September 11: PATRIOT DAY (USA)
In honor of the event of 9-11.
September 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.
September 22: MABON/ALBAN ELFED/AUTUMNAL EQUINOX • Pagan
Not an official government holiday, however most American Indian organizations and tribes do observe this holiday.
September 23: NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN DAY (USA)
Not an official government holiday, however most American Indian organizations and tribes do observe this holiday.
Italian-American Heritage Month
Filipino American Heritage Month
Polish American Heritage Month
LGBT HISTORY MONTH
Marks and celebrates the lives and achievements of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people in the United States.
October 1: NAVARATRI • Hindu
Navarati is one of the greatest Hindu festivals, and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. During this time, Hindus worship Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
October 3 – 4: ROSH HASHANAH • Jewish
Beginning of the Jewish New Year and first of the High Holy Days, which marks the beginning of a ten-day period of penitence and spiritual renewal.
October 10: COLUMBUS DAY (USA)
Recognizes the encounter of the New World in 1492 by Christopher Columbus
October 10: 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.
October 11: NATIONAL COMING OUT (USA)
October 11, 1987, half a million people marched on Washington for gay and lesbian equality. This was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital 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.
October 11-12: YOM KIPPUR • Jewish
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.
October 16-17: SUKKOT • Jewish
A week-long celebration which begins with the building of Sukkah for sleep and meals; Sukkot is named for the huts Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert before reaching the promised land
October 23-24: SHEMINI ATZERET • Jewish
Also known as Atzereth, this is a fall festival, which includes a memorial service for the dead and features prayers for rain in Israel.
October 24-25: SIMCHAT TORAH • Jewish
Simchat Torah marks the completion of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah in the synagogue and the beginning of the new cycle.
October 30: DIWALI • Hindu
Celebrates the festival of lights, the most colorful and popular festival celebrated with great fervor by Hindu, Janis, and Sikhs. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.
October 31 – Nov. 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.
October 31 – Nov. 1: SAMHAIN • Pagan
One of the four "greater Sabbats" and considered by some to be the Wiccan New Year. A time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, welcome those born during the past year into the community, and reflecting on past relationships, events and other significant changes in life.
National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
Latin American Month
November 11: ARMISTICE DAY
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 which Honors the U. S. Armed Services and commemorates the war dead.
November 12: Birth of Bahá'u'lláh • Baha’i
This holiday celebrates the birthday of Bahá'u'lláh, one of the Baha’I faith’s most important figures. For Bahá'ís, the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh is a Holy Day celebrating the rebirth of the world through the love of God, just as Christmas is for Christians.
November 14-20: AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK
Celebrates public education and honors individuals who are making a difference in ensuring every child in the U.S. receives a quality education.
November 20: TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
Memorializes those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
November 24: THANKSGIVING (CANADA & USA)
November 27: ADVENT SUNDAY • Christian
Advent is a season of spiritual preparation in observance of the birth of Jesus. In Western Christianity, it starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In Eastern Christianity, the season is longer and begins in the middle of November
December 1: World AIDS Day
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.
December 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.
December 17: MAWLID AL-NABI (Also known as MILAD AL-NABI) • Islamic (Shi’a)
The observance of the birthday of Islam founder Prophet Muhammad which occurs in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. Celebrates the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. Shi‟a Muslims celebrate it five days later than Sunni Muslims.
December 21: WINTER SOLSTICE
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)
December 24 – Jan 1,2017: CHANUKAH also known as HANUKKAH • Jewish
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 (‘dreidel” or a spinning top is a popular Chanukah game) and singing, for visiting and for giving gifts.
December 25: CHRISTMAS • Christian
Christmas 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.
Dec. 26 – Jan 1, 2017: KWANZAA
A seven-day 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