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Religious Holidays

All human communities set aside time to celebrate the people and events that have shaped their respective identities. Religious communities also designate important times and seasons. These holidays—or Holy Days—can be weekly events such as the Jewish Sabbath, or annual events like Easter, or seasonal events such as Ramadan.

These Holy Days and Festivals include special rituals or personal obligations such as fasting or almsgiving.

The following is a partial list of the most important Holy Days and Festivals celebrated by religious communities on our campus from August through June. An *asterisk indicates that it begins at sundown the day before this date and ends at sundown on this date. The holidays in bold print mean they are the most important for the tradition.

Religious Holidays Academic Year 2019-2020

August 2019

8/11 — *Eid al-Adha. Islam. Festival of Sacrifice. The day of Arafat, marks the end of Hajj. [8/10-8/11]

8/11 — *Tisha B’ Av. Jewish. The major day of communal mourning. [8/10-8/11]

8/23 — Janmashtami. Hindu. Annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

September 2019

9/29-10/1 — Rosh Hashanah Jewish. Jewish New Year. A time of introspection, abstinence, and prayer.

October 2019

10/9 — Yom Kippur. Jewish. Day of Atonement. The most solemn and holy day of the year in which Jews spend a day in fasting and prayer. [10/8-10/9]

10/14-10/20 — Sukkot. Jewish. Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles - celebrates the harvest and the protection of the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness dwelling in tents.

10/22 — *Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Jewish. Completion of the annual cycle of reading of the Torah. [10/20-10/22]

10/27 — DiwaliHindu, Festival of lights symbolizing the human urges to move toward the light.

November 2019

11/10 — Mawlid al-Nabi (Sunni). Islam. The observance of the birthday of Islamic prophet Muhammad. [11/9-11/10]

December 2019

12/22-12/30 — ChanukahJewish. Commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Chanukah is celebrated for eight days to mark the eight days the oil burned.

12/25 — ChristmasChristian. Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Observed by prayers, exchanging of gifts and family parties (per Gregorian Calendar).

12/26-1/1 — Kwanzaa. African American. Weeklong celebration honoring African heritage in African-American culture.

January 2020

1/1 — The Solemnity of Mary. Christian.

1/6 — Epiphany. Christian. This date commemorates the revelation of God through Jesus Christ and marks the time the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem and presented gifts to baby Jesus.

1/7 — Nativity of Christ. Orthodox Christian.

1/10— Mahayana New Year. Buddhist.

1/25 – Chinese New YearBuddhist. Confucian. Taoist. Begins a fifteen Day Festival for Chinese people of all religions. Family reunions with thanksgiving and remembrance of departed relatives take place. Traditionally a religious ceremony honors Heaven and Earth.

1/29 — Vasant Panchami. Hindu. Celebration dedicated to Saraswati, goddess of Learning.

February 2020

2/2 — Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. Orthodox Christian.

2/8 — *Nirvana Day. Hindu. Buddhist. A regional observance of the death of the Buddha. [2/7-2/8]

2/10 — *Tu BiShvat. Jewish. [2/9-2/10]

2/10 — Magha Puja Day. Buddhist. Celebration of the presentation of teaching by Lord Buddha to an assembly of holy men.

2/21 — Maha Shivaratri. Hindu. Festival in honor of Lord Shiva and his marriage to Goddess Parvati

2/25 — Shrove Tuesday. Christian.

2/26 — Ash WednesdayChristian. Protestant. Roman Catholic. Lent begins.

March 2020

3/2 — Great Lent begins. Orthodox Christian.

3/8 — Sunday of Orthodoxy. Orthodox Christian.

3/10 — *PurimJewish. Celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish minority in Persia from genocide. [3/9-3/10]

3/10 — *Holi. Hindu. Festival of Colors. [3/9-3/10]

3/22 — *Laylat al-Mi’rajIslam. Commemorates Muhammad’s night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and ascension to heaven. [3/21-3/22]

3/25 — Annunciation. Orthodox Christian.

3/25-4/2 — Ramayana. Hindu.

April 2020

4/2 — Rama Navami. Hindu.

4/5 — Palm Sunday. Christian. Eastern Orthodox. Protestant. Roman Catholic. A commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as crowds lined his path with palm fronds.

4/8 — Hanuman Jayanti. Hindu.

4/9 — Maundy Thursday. Christian. Protestant. Roman Catholic. Thursday before Easter, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles.

4/11 — Theravadin New YearBuddhist. [4/9-4/11]

4/10 — Good FridayChristian. Protestant. Roman Catholic. Christian remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus and related events.

4/11 — Saturday of Lazarus. Orthodox Christian.

4/8-4/16 — *Pesach. Jewish. Jewish 8 day pilgrimage festival celebrating the Exodus from slavery to freedom. Also known as Passover. [4/8-4/16]

4/9 — *Laylat al-Bara’ah. Islam. Night of Forgiveness (also known as Shab-e baraat). A night of prayer to God for forgiveness for oneself and for the dead. Preparation for Ramadan through intense prayer begins on this date. [4/8-4/9]

4/12 — EasterChristian. The most holy of Christian Sacred days. The day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his death by crucifixion.

4/12 — Palm Sunday. Orthodox Christian.

4/17 — Great and Holy Friday. Orthodox Christian.

4/19 — Divine Mercy Sunday. Christian.

4/19 — Orthodox Easter/Pascha. Orthodox Christian.

4/21 — *Yom HaShoa. Jewish. Jewish Holocaust Day. Remembering the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in 1933-45. [4/20-4/21]

4/23-5/23 — *RamadanIslam. 9th month on Islamic calendar, devoted fasting from first light to sunset. In this month, the Prophet Muhammad’s reception of the divine revelation, the Qur`an, is commemorated. It is the holiest period of the Islamic Year. The start date is set either by following Saudi practice or by moon sighting.

May 2020

4/23-5/23 — *Ramadan. Islam. 9th month on Islamic calendar, devoted fasting from first light to sunset. In this month, the Prophet Muhammad’s reception of the divine revelation, the Qur`an, is commemorated. It is the holiest period of the Islamic Year. The start date is set either by following Saudi practice or by moon sighting.

5/7— Visakha Puja Day/Buddha Day. Buddhist. Marking of the birth, enlightenment and death (attainment of Nirvana) of Lord Buddha.

5/12 — *Lag B’Omer. Jewish. Observation of the counting of the day - the link - between Pesach and Shavuot. [5/11-5/12]

5/21 — Ascension Thursday. Christian.

5/24 — *Eid al-Fitr. Islam. Marks the end of Ramadan. It is a festival of thanksgiving to God.

5/28 — Ascension. Orthodox Christian.

5/30 — *Shavuot. Jewish. Celebration of Moses` descent from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments. [5/28-5/30]

5/31 — Pentecost/Whit Sunday. Christian. Christian observation of the day when the God the Holy Spirit came to the disciples in the forms of tongues of fire and rushing wind. It is a traditional day for baptism and confirmation of new Christians.

June 2020

6/7 — Trinity Sunday. Christian.

6/7 — Pentecost. Orthodox Christian.

6/11 — Corpus Christi. Christian.