Selected Religious Holidays and Celebrations
August 15 (Wednesday)
- Nag Panchami (Hindu)
Worship of snake-deities
August 19 – August 24 (Sunday - Friday)
- Hajj (Muslim)
An obligatory, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca carried out by all Muslims who have the financial means to go.
August 21 - 25 (sundown Tuesday - sundown Saturday)
- Eid al-Adha (Muslim)
One of the two main Islamic festivals (the other is Eid al-Fitr), this festival commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael.
August 26 (Sunday)
- Raksha Bandhan (Holi)
The tying of thread, talisman, or amulet on the wrist as a form of ritual protection. The protection is primarily offered by sisters to brothers, but also by priests to patrons, and sometimes by individuals to real or potential benefactors.
September 2 (Sunday)
- Krishna Janmashthami
Annual Hindu festival that demarcates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of god Vishnu.
September 9 - 11 (sundown Sunday - sundown Tuesday)
- Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)
This marks the beginning of the Jewish year and the beginning of the High Holy Days or the Days of Awe. Observance includes refraining from work.
September 18 - 19 (sundown Tuesday - sundown Wednesday)
- Yom Kippur (Jewish)
The Day of Atonement, at the end of the 10 Days of Awe, is devoted to prayer, repentance and fasting. The Sabbath of Sabbaths in the Jewish calendar, it is the most widely observed Jewish Holiday of the year. Observance includes refraining from work.
September 22 (Saturday)
- Fall Equinox (Pagan)
A celebration of the transition from life to death, the harvest, and the bounty of the earth.
September 21 (Friday)
Ashura Shi'a (Muslim)
A day of great mourning, marking the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
September 23 - September 30 (sundown Sunday - sundown Sunday)
- Sukkot (Jewish)
The Feast of the Tabernacles commemorates the dwelling of the Israelites in the wilderness. Jews build sukkot (booths) and spend time in them over the week. Observance includes refraining from work on the first two days.
September 30 - October 1 (sundown Sunday - sundown Monday)
- Shmini Atzeret (Jewish)
The eighth day of Sukkot, this holiday coincides with the beginning of the rainy season in Israel, and incorporates prayers for rain and a good harvest. Observance includes refraining from work.
October 1 - 2 (sundown Monday - sundown Tuesday)
- Simchat Torah (Jewish)
A celebration of the Torah, this festival marks the end of the annual cycle of Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle. Observance includes refraining from work.
October 9 - 16 (Tuesday - Tuesday)
- Navratri (Hindu)
A festival dedicated to the Hindu God Shakti.
October 19 (Friday)
- Vijayadashami (Hindu)
Hindu celebration of victory and valor. Lord Rama is remembered as winning a victory over evil.
October 28 (Sunday)
- Reformation Day (Protestant Christian)
The Protestant Christian anniversary of their tradition and its emphasis on the place of the Bible and religious freedom.
October 31 - November 1 (Wednesday - Thursday)
- Día de los Muertos (Mesoamerican native and Christian)
A festive Mexican holiday when families remember their dead and the continuity of life.
November 1 (Thursday)
- Samhain (Pagan)
On this night, nearly halfway between the Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice, Pagans honor a liminal time when the boundary between the physical and the spiritual world is thinnest, and access to the knowledge of the dead is possible.
- All Saint’s Day (Catholic)
A holy day of obligation (which means Catholics are obliged to go to church) that celebrates the Christian saints.
November 2 (Friday)
- All Soul’s Day (Catholic)
A day commemorating the faithful departed.
November 7 (Wednesday)
- Diwali/Tihar (Hindu, Jain, Sikh)
The festival of lights, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
November 13 (Tuesday)
- Chhath (Hindu)
Native to the Madhesh and Mithila regions, Chhath is the worship of the Sun and his wife Usha, thanking them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.
November 15 - December 24 (Thursday – Monday)
- Nativity Fast (Orthodox Christian)
The Nativity Fast begins forty days before the Nativity Feast (Jesus' birth) and is a time to prepare, through fasting and prayer, for the upcoming feast.
November 22 (Thursday)
- Thanksgiving (Interfaith USA)
Day celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year.
December 2 - 10 (sundown Sunday – sundown Monday)
- Hanukkah (Jewish)
The Festival of Lights marks the victory of the Maccabees and rededication of the Temple. It is a celebration of religious freedom and an affirmation of God's saving power.
December 2 - 24 (Sunday - Monday)
- Advent (Christian)
The season in which Christians prepare and expectantly wait for the birth of Jesus. In the Western Church, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas Day.
December 8 (Saturday)
- Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic)
A feast in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary (holy day of obligation).
December 21 (Friday)
- Winter Solstice (Neo–Pagan/ Wiccan)
The shortest day of the year, Winter Solstice symbolizes the natural cycle of life and death, and the return of light into the world.
December 25 (Tuesday)
- Christmas/Holy Nativity (Christian/Orthodox Christian)
The celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
December 26–January 1 (Wednesday - Tuesday)
- Kwanzaa (African–American)
An African American and Pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture, Kwanzaa is a secular observance with some religious participation. Seven life virtues are presented. The dates are always December 26 - January 1.
January 1 (Tuesday)
- Feast of Mary, Mother of God (Roman Catholic)
A holy day of obligation during which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is celebrated.
January 6 (Sunday)
- Holy Epiphany/Día de los Reyes/Feast of the Theophany (Christian/Orthodox Christian)
A celebration of the epiphany (or manifestation) of Jesus' divine nature. Eastern or Orthodox Christian churches commemorate the baptism of Jesus; Western churches commemorate the coming of the Magi or "Wise Men".
January 13 (Sunday)
- Bodhi Day (Buddhist)
In the Northern or Mahayana tradition, this day celebrates the Buddha's attainment of Enlightenment.
January 20 - 21 (sundown Sunday - sundown Monday)
- Tu B’shevat (Jewish)
The traditional Jewish New Year for trees, this holiday has become a modern celebration of earth and the environment.
January 21 - 23 (Monday - Wednesday)
- Mahayana New Year (Buddhist)
February 5 (Tuesday)
- Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean New Year
(Buddhist/Daoist/Confucian) (secular in origin; observed across religious and secular communities throughout East Asia cultural regions excluding Japan)
Celebrated as the most important holiday of the year in the East Asian Lunar calendar (also known as the Chinese lunar calendar). The holiday is observed primarily in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Vietnam and Korea, and also many Southeast Asian countries with significant population from the above regions. The Year of the Pig begins.
February 8 (Friday)
- Nirvana Day (Buddhism)
This day is the celebration of the day with Buddha is said to have achieved Parinirvana upon the death of his physical body.
February 10 (Sunday)
- Vasant Panchami (Hindu)
A spring festival that is treated as the start of spring. This also marks the start of preparation for Honika bonfire and Holi, which occurs forty days later.
March 4 (Monday)
- Maha Shivaratri (Hindu)
A Hindu festival in honor of Lord Shiva and his marriage to Goddess Parvati
March 6 (Wednesday)
- Ash Wednesday (Christian)
The beginning of Lent, the 40–day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer and repentance that precedes Easter.
March 11 (Monday)
- Clean Monday (Orthodox Christian)
Eastern Orthodox churches begin the season of Lent, marked by fasting, prayer, and charity.
March 17 (Sunday)
- St. Patrick’s Day (Christian)
Christian celebration of Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland in early days of the faith
March 20 (Wednesday)
- Spring Equinox (Neo–Pagan/Wiccan)
A day that marks the rebirth of the year, and celebrates the change of seasons and the rebirth of the spirit after death.
March 20 - 21(sundown Wednesday - sundown Thursday)
- Purim (Jewish)
This joyous celebration of the story of Esther commemorates the victory of the Jews over a tyrannical enemy.
March 20 - 21 (sunset Wednesday - sunset Thursday)
- Holi (Hindu)
A widely-celebrated festival during which participants throw colored water or powder at one another to celebrate episodes in the life of Krishna.
April 6 - 13 (Saturday - Friday)
- Ramayana (Hindu)
April 9 (Tuesday)
- Mahavir Jayanti (Jain)
Jain festival honoring Lord Mahavira on the founder's birthday
April 13–15 (Saturday - Monday)
- Songkran/Thingyan/ Pi Mai Lao (Buddhist)
These days mark the New Year for many countries in Southeast Asia. Cleansing rituals, which represent a cleansing of the soul and a washing away of the old year, are performed.
April 14 (Sunday)
- Ramanavami (Hindu)
The first day of a nine-day festival in honor of Ram. The Ramayana, an Indian Epic, is performed.
April 14 (Sunday)
- New Year (Hindu)
April 14 - 20 (Sunday - Saturday)
- Orthodox Holy Week/Easter (Orthodox Christian)
Eastern Orthodox churches observe Holy Week, including Holy Thursday and Great Friday and Easter or Pascha. On Holy Friday, adults abstain from food and drink as their health allows.
April 14 - 21 (Sunday - Sunday)
- Holy Week/Easter (Christian)
The most important Christian holidays, marking the Last Supper, Passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, with a day of holy observance on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
April 19 - 27 (sundown Friday - sundown Saturday)
- Passover (Jewish)
Passover commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. "Seders," ritual feasts at which the story of the Exodus is recounted, are conducted on the first and second nights, followed by six more days of observance during which dietary restrictions apply.
May 1 - 2 (sundown Wednesday - sundown Thursday)
- Yom HaShoah (Jewish)
Holocaust Memorial Day.
May 5 - June 4 (sundown Sunday - sundown Tuesday)
- Ramadan (Muslim)
The (lunar) month of fasting. Adult Muslims abstain from eating from dawn until sunset.
May 8-9 (sundown Wednesday - sundown Thursday)
- Yom Ha’atzmaut (Jewish)
Marks the signing of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
June 4 - June 7 (sundown Tuesday - sundown Friday)
- Eid al-Fitr (Muslim)
Also known as the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. One of the two main Islamic festivals (the other is Eid al-Adha), this day celebrates the end of Ramadan.
June 8 - 10 (sundown Saturday - sundown Monday)
- Shavuot (Jewish)
A harvest festival celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Observance includes refraining from work.
June 9 (Sunday)
- Pentecost (Christian)
Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the founding events of the Christian church.
June 21 (Friday)
- Summer Solstice (Pagan)
June 23 (Sunday)
- All Saints (Christian)