Selected Religious Holidays and Celebrations 2014-2015
September 23 Fall Equinox (Pagan) A celebration of the transition from life to death, the harvest, and the bounty of the earth.
September 24-26 (sundown on the 24th to sundown on the 26th) Rosh Hashanah (Jewish) The Jewish New Year, and the beginning of the High Holy Days.
September 25-29 Navaratri (Hindu) A festival dedicated to the Hindu God Shakti.
October 1-6 Hajj (Muslim) An obligatory, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca carried out by all Muslims who have the financial means to go.
October 3-4 (sundown on the 3rd to sundown on the 4th) Yom Kippur (Jewish) The Day of Atonement, and the end of the High Holy Days, Yom Kippur 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.
October 4-7 Eid-al Adha (Muslim) The Muslim commemoration of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael.
October 8-15 (sundown on the 8th to sundown on the 15th) 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.
October 15-16 (sundown on the 15th to sundown on the 16th) 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.
October 16-17 (sundown on the 16th to sundown on the 17th) 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.
October 23 Diwali (Hindu, Jain, Sikh) The festival of lights, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
October 31 Reformation Day (Protest Christian) The Protestant Christian anniversary of their tradition and its emphasis on the place of the Bible and religious freedom.
October 31 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.
November 1 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 1-November 2 Día de los Muertos (Mesoamerican native and Christian) A festive Mexican holiday when families remember their dead and the continuity of life.
November 2 All Soul’s Day (Catholic) A day commemorating the faithful departed.
November 3 Ashura Shi'a (Muslim) A day of great mourning, marking the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
November 15- December 24 Nativity Fast (Orthodox Christian) The Nativity Fast or Advent begins forty days before the Nativity Feast (Jesus' birth) and is a time to prepare, through fasting and prayer, for the upcoming feast.
November 30–December 24 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 Bodhi Day (Buddhist) In the Northern or Mahayana tradition, this day celebrates the Buddha's attainment of Enlightenment.
December 8 Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic) A feast in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary (holy day of obligation).
December 16–December 24 (sundown on the 16th to sundown on the 24th) 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 21 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 Christmas/Holy Nativity (Christian/Orthodox Christian) The celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
December 26–January 1 Kwanzaa (African–American) An African–American celebration honoring African community values and beliefs.
January 1 Feast of Mary, Mother of God (Roman Catholic) A holy day of obligation during which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is celebrated.
January 6 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".
February 3-4 (sundown on the 3rd to sundown on the 4th) Tu B’Shevat (Jewish) The traditional Jewish New Year for trees, this holiday has become a modern celebration of earth and the environment.
February 15 Nirvana Day (Buddhist) In the Northern or Mahayana tradition, this day celebrates the death of the Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha, when he reached total Nirvana.
February 18 Ash Wednesday (Christian) The beginning of Lent, the 40–day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer and repentance that precedes Easter.
February 19 Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean New Year (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 main-land 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 Sheep begins.
February 23 Clean Monday (Orthodox Christian) Eastern Orthodox churches begin the season of Lent, marked by fasting, prayer, and charity.
March 4-5 (sundown on the 4th to sundown on the 5th) Purim (Jewish) This joyous celebration commemorates the victory of the Jews over a tyrannical enemy. The Jews changed the day marked for their destruction into a day of victory.
March 6 Holi (Hindu/Indian) A widely-celebrated festival during which participants throw colored water or powder at one another to celebrate episodes in the life of Krishna.
March 20 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 28 Ramnavami (Hindu) The first day of a nine-day festival in honor of Ram. The Ramayana, an Indian Epic, is performed.
March 29- April 5 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 3-11 (sundown on the 3rd to sundown on the 11th) 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.
April 4-12 Orthodox Holy Week/Easter (Orthodox Christian) Eastern Orthodox churches observe Holy Week, including Holy and Great Friday and Easter or Pascha. On Holy Friday, adults abstain from food and drink as their health allows.
April 13–15 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 15-16 (sundown on the 15th to sundown on the 16th) Yom Ha–Shoah (Jewish) Holocaust Memorial Day.
May 23-25 (sundown on the 23rd to sundown on the 25th) Shavuot (Jewish) A harvest festival celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
May 24 Pentecost (Christian) Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the founding events of the Christian church.