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Selected Religious Holidays and Celebrations 2015-2016

September 2015

  • September 13-15 (sundown on the 13th to sundown on the 15th)
    Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)
    The Jewish New Year, and the beginning of the High Holy Days.
  • September 21-26 (sundown on the 21st to sundown on the 26th)
    Hajj (Muslim)
    An obligatory, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca carried out by all Muslims who have the financial means to go.
  • September 22-23 (sundown on the 22rd to sundown on the 23th)
    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.
  • September 23
    Fall Equinox (Pagan)
    A celebration of the transition from life to death, the harvest, and the bounty of the earth.
  • September 23-26 (sundown on the 23rd to sundown on the 26th)
    Eid-al Adha (Muslim)
    The Muslim commemoration of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael.
  • September 27- October 4 (sundown on the 27th to sundown on Oct. 4th)
    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 2015

  • October 4-5 (sundown on the 4th to sundown on the 5th)
    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 5-6 (sundown on the 5th to sundown on the 6th)
    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 13-21
    Navaratri (Hindu)
    A festival dedicated to the Hindu God Shakti.
  • October 22-23 (sundown on the 22nd to sundown on the 23rd)
    Ashura Shi'a (Muslim)
    A day of great mourning, marking the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
  • 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 2015

  • 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 11-15
    Diwali (Hindu, Jain, Sikh)
    The festival of lights, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
  • 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 29–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 2015

  • December 6–14 (sundown on the 16th to sundown on the 14th)
    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 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 22
    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 2016

  • 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".
  • January 24-25 (sundown on the 24rd to sundown on the 25th)
    Tu B’Shevat (Jewish)
    The traditional Jewish New Year for trees, this holiday has become a modern celebration of earth and the environment.

February 2016

  • February 8
    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 10
    Ash Wednesday (Christian)
    The beginning of Lent, the 40–day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer and repentance that precedes Easter.
  • 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.

March 2016

  • March 14
    Clean Monday (Orthodox Christian)
    Eastern Orthodox churches begin the season of Lent, marked by fasting, prayer, and charity.
  • 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 20-27
    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.
  • March 23
    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 23-24 (sundown on the 23rd to sundown on the 24th)
    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.

April 2016

  • 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
    Ramnavami (Hindu)
    The first day of a nine-day festival in honor of Ram. The Ramayana, an Indian Epic, is performed.
  • April 22-30 (sundown on the 22nd to sundown on the 30th)
    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 23- May 1
    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.

May 2016

  • May 4-5 (sundown on the 4th to sundown on the 5th)
    Yom Ha–Shoah (Jewish)
    Holocaust Memorial Day.
  • May 15
    Pentecost (Christian)
    Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the founding events of the Christian church.

June 2016

  • June 6- July 5 (sundown on June 6th to sundown on July 5th)
    Ramadan (Muslim)
    The ninth month of the Muslim year, in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset in honor of the first revelations to the Prophet Muhammad.
  • June 11-13 (sundown on the 11th to sundown on the 13th)
    A harvest festival celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

July 2016

  • July 5-6 (sundown on the 5th to sundown on the 6th)
    Eid al-Fitr (Muslim)
    The break-fast feast ending the month of Ramadan.