Faith-Based Observances

We've provided a list of faith-based observances with recommended accommodations. Students and employees may need accommodation or time off during the dates of faith-based observances.

2022 Faith-Based Observances

January

January 1 — Gantan-sai

  • Shinto
  • The annual New Year festival
  • Observed through prayer for inner renewal, prosperity and health
  • Practitioners visit shrines and their friends and family
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date
January 6  — Epiphany
  • Roman Catholic and Protestant
  • Twelfth Night, Three Kings Day and 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
  • Observation includes prayer, festive meals, offerings and gifts
January 7 — Orthodox Christmas
  • Eastern Orthodox Christian
  • Commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, whose message and self-sacrifice began the Christian religion
  • Observation includes attending church services, holding celebratory meals and visiting family
  • Typically falls during winter break so time off for students and employees may not be necessary

February

February 1  — Chinese New Year 
  • Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist
  • The most important traditional Chinese holiday
  • Observation includes preparing boiled dumplings and festive meals
  • Adults give money to children in red envelopes
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date
  • If possible, grant time off to employees who request this day off

February 1–2 — Imbolc  

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • Candlemas, 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
  • Marks a time of initiations, re-dedication and pledges for the coming year
  • Observations include making candles, reading poetry and telling stories

February 3 — Setsubum-sai

  • Shinto
  • Marks the beginning of spring
  • Known as the bean-throwing festival because the faithful scatter roasted beans to bring good luck to the new season

February 16 — Magha Puja Day

  • Buddhist
  • Commemorates when four disciples traveled to join the Buddha

March

March 2 — Ash Wednesday

  • Roman Catholic and Protestant
  • Commemorates the first day of Lent — the period of 40 days before Easter in which many Christians sacrifice ordinary pleasures to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice
  • Observed with special church services and abstaining from eating meat
  • Some practitioners wear a cross of ashes on their forehead
  • Provide food accommodation

March 16–17 — Purim

  • Jewish
  • Begins at sundown 
  • Commemorates the time when the Jews, living in Persia, were saved from genocide by the courage of a young Jewish woman called Esther
  • Observations include carnival-like celebrations with costumes and reading the Book of Esther
  • Triangular, fruit-filled pastries are eaten in opposition to the villain Haman, who wore a three-cornered hat
  • Purim is not subject to work restrictions; however, some observers do not go about their ordinary business out of respect for the festival
  • Provide kosher food

March 20 — Ostara

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • Eostre, Alban, Eilir and Spring Equinox
  • Commemorates the goddess conceiving the god’s child, which will be born at the winter solstice
  • Regarded as a time of fertility and conception
  • Observersation includes lighting fires to commemorate the return of light in the spring and to honor the god and goddess
  • Some practitioners also color eggs as a way of honoring fertility

March 20–21 — Naw Ruz

  • Baha’i
  • Begins at sundown
  • Marks the Baha’i New Year, a traditional celebration in Iran adopted as a holy day associated with Baha’i
  • The celebration of spring and new life includes festive music, dancing, prayers, meetings and meals

March 18 —Holi 

  • Hindu
  • Festival of Colors
  • Can be traced to Hindu scriptures commemorating good over evil
  • Celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar moon in late February or early March
  • Observation includes sprinkling colored water and powder on others and celebrating with bonfires and lights

April

April 2–May 2 — Ramadan

  • Islamic
  • Begins at sundown
  • An occasion to focus on faith through fasting and prayer
  • Marks the time the Qur’an was first revealed during this month
  • The night that the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad is called Lailat ul Oadr, and standing in prayer this one night is thought to eclipse months of worship
  • Muslims believe that good actions bring a greater reward during this month than any other time of the year, so almost all Muslims try to give up bad habits during Ramadan
  • Observed by refraining from smoking and sexual relations, as well as fasting from food and beverages during daylight hours
  • Practitioners break their fast each night with prayer, reading of the Qu’ran and a meal called the iftar
  • Many Muslims also attend night prayers at mosques
  • Students and employees celebrating Ramadan will be fasting continually for 30 days and will likely have less stamina
  • Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines during this time
  • Provide food accommodations

April 10 — Palm Sunday

  • Roman Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christian
  • A commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as crowds lined his path with palm fronds
  • Observed through prayer and distribution of palm leaves commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion

April 14 — Maundy Thursday

  • Roman Catholic and Protestant
  • Commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles
  • Observed the Thursday before Easter through prayer, Communion (Eucharist), meals and foot-washing ceremonies

April 14 — Vaisakhi

  • Sikh
  • New year festival
  • Commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born
  • Observed with a harvest festival, including parades, dancing and singing and chanting of scriptures and hymns

April 15–23 — Pesach

  • Jewish
  • Passover
  • Begins at sundown
  • Week-long observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II
  • Observations include family gatherings, ritualized Seder meal, reading of the Haggadah and the lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the last night of Passover
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first evening, the following two days or the last two days of the holiday
  • Provide Kosher food — for example, the use of leavening is prohibited: matzah is eaten in place of bread

April 15 — Good Friday

  • Roman Catholic and Protestant
  • Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
  • Observed the Friday before Easter with fasting, prayer and noon or afternoon services
  • Provide food accommodation — meat may be prohibited during meals (fish may not be considered meat)

April 15 — Holy Friday

  • Eastern Orthodox Christian
  • Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Chris
  • Observed the Friday before Easter with a day of fasting, prayer, confession and church services
  • Some practitioners wrap or dye eggs (often red) in preparation for Easter Sunday
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the date

April 17 — Easter

  • Roman Catholic and Protestant
  • Commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • Observation includes celebratory meals, family gatherings, distribution of colored eggs, baskets and chocolate bunnies
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date
  • If possible, grant time off to employees who request this day off

April 24 — Orthodox Easter

  • Eastern Orthodox Christian
  • Pascha
  • Commemorates of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • Observation includes celebratory meals, family gatherings, distribution of colored eggs and baskets of breads, meats, eggs, cheeses and other foods
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date
  • If possible, grant time off to employees who request this day off

April 27–28 — Yom HaSho’ah

  • Jewish
  • Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • Beginning at sundown, a day to remember the lives and names of Jewish relatives and friends
  • Observation includes ceremonies and events to remember victims of the Holocaust and may include lighting memorial candles and reciting the Kaddish, a prayer for the deceased
  • Academics and work are permitted
  • Provide kosher food accommodation

May

May 1 — Beltane

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • Gaelic May Day
  • Observation includes fire festival to celebrate the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year with jumping the balefire and dancing around the maypole

May 2–May 3 — Eid al-Fitr

  • Islamic
  • Begins at sundown
  • Means “break the fast” and marks the last day of Ramadan, the end of a month of fasting
  • Observation includes prayer, exchanging gifts, giving money to children, feasting and celebrating with friends and family
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities on this date.
  • If possible, grant time off to employees who request this day off
  • Provide food accommodations

May 8 — Visakha Puja

  • Buddhist
  • Buddha Day and Buddha's birthday
  • Commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha
  • Observation includes decorating homes and visiting local temples
  • Observers are encouraged to refrain from slaughtering animals and avoid eating meat on this date
  • Offer vegan and vegetarian food options

May 29 — Ascension of the Baha’ullah

  • Baha’i
  • Commemorates the death on May 29, 1892, of the founder of the Baha’i faith, Baha’llah
  • Observation includes devotional programs and reading from the scriptures

June

June 4–6 — Shavuot

  • Jewish
  • Beginning at sundown, commemorates receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai
  • Observation includes an evening of devotional programs and studying the Torah and lighting Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the second night
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities
  • Provide kosher food

June 22 — Midsommer

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • Litha, Alban Hefin and Summer Solstice
  • Celebration of the the goddess manifesting as Mother Earth and the god as the Sun King
  • Marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer
  • Observed by lighting bonfires and watching the sun rise

July

July 9–13 — Eid al-Adha

  • Islamic
  • Beginning at sundown, celebrates the willingness to make sacrifices in the name of one’s faith
  • According to legend, the prophet Ibrahim was ordered to sacrifice his son in God’s name. When Ibrahim was prepared to kill his son, God stepped in and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead. This holiday celebrates Ibrahim’s total faith in God, and Muslims view this holiday as an important annual reminder.
  • Observed with prayers, gift-giving and sometimes slaughtering sheep, with a portion of the meat given to the poor
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on the first day.
  • Provide food accommodations

August

August 1 — Loaf Mass Day

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • Lammas and Lughnasadh
  • A celebration of the beginning of the harvest observed by making dishes with the first fruits of the harvest

August 5–6 — Tisha B’Av

  • Jewish
  • Begins at sundown on first day; fast deferred because of the Sabbath
  • Commemorates a series of Jewish tragedies, including the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem
  • Observed by fasting and mourning
  • Plan limited activities

August 11 — Raksha Bandhan

  • Hindu
  • Falls in the holy month of Shravan — the origin and history of Rakhi can be dated back to the mythological Pouranik times
  • Observed by acknowledging siblings and their relationships

August 18–19 — Krishna Janmashtami

  • Hindu
  • The first day is called Krishan ashtami or Gokul ashtami
  • The second day is known as Kaal ashtami, or more popularly Janam ashtami
  • Celebrates the birth of Krishna, a widely worshiped Hindu god who is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher and philosopher
  • Observed by giving up sleep to sing bhajans, traditional Hindu songs and fasting during the first day of the festival
  • Dances, songs and plays depict the life of Krishna
  • Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines on this day

September

September 21–29 — Mabon

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • Alban Elfed, Autumnal Equinox, Harvest Home, Feast of the Ingathering and Meán Fómhair
  • Marks when the day and night are in equal balance
  • A thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the goddess and the god during the coming winter months
  • Observation includes offering gratitude for the blessings of the harvest and also preparing for turning inward during the winter by making dishes with apples, squash and pumpkins

September 25–27 — Rosh Hashanah

  • Jewish
  • Start of the Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown the evening before the first day and lasts two full days
  • Marks a day of judgment and remembrance
  • The Jewish calendar celebrates the New Year in the seventh month (Tishrei) as a day of rest and celebration 10 days before Yom Kippur
  • Observance includes prayer in synagogue and festive meals
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities on this date
  • Provide kosher food

September 25–October 5 — Navaratri

  • Hindu
  • Celebrates the triumph of good over evil with worship of Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga, the mother goddess 
  • Practitioners visits their mother and other relatives
  • Observation may also includes prayer, fasting and feasts and dances

October

October 4–5 — Yom Kippur

  • Jewish
  • Dedicated to atonement and abstinence
  • Observation includes fasting from before sundown until after sunset and lighting a Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the night of Yom Kippur
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities on these days and the day after

October 9–16 — Sukkot

  • Jewish
  • Begins at sundown
  • An eight-day celebration that begins with the building of Sukkah for sleep and meals
  • Named for the huts Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert before reaching the promised land
  • U.S. families who observe commonly decorate the sukkah with produce and artwork
  • Begins the evening of the first day, followed by resting the next two days
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities on the first two days
  • Provide kosher food accommodation

October 16–18 — Shemini Atzeret

  • Jewish
  • Atzereth
  • Fall festival that begins at sundown
  • Observation includes a memorial service for the dead, which features prayers for rain in Israel and lighting a Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on Shemini Atzereth, the eighth night of Sukkot
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities on this date
  • Provide kosher food

October 17–18 — Simchat Torah

  • Jewish
  • Beginning at sundown, marks the completion of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah in the synagogue and the beginning of the new cycle
  • Practitioners dance in synagogues as all the Torah scrolls are carried around in seven circuits
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first evening and the following day

October 26–27 — Birth of Bahá’u’lláh

  • Baha’I
  • Commemorates the birthday of Bahá’u’lláh
  • Holy day celebrating the rebirth of the world through the love of God, just as Christmas is for Christians
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities on this date.
  • If possible, grant time off to employees who request this day off

October 31–November 1 — Samhain

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • 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 reflect on past relationships, events and other significant changes in life
  • Observations include paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died

October 24 — Diwali

  • Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain
  • Hindu Festival of Lights
  • Celebrates the victory of good over evil
  • Observation includes lighting fireworks and oil lamps and eating sweets, making this a favorite holiday for children
  • Lamps are lit to help the goddess Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities on this date.
  • If possible, grant time off to employees who request this day off

November

December

December 18–26 — Hanukkah (Chanukah)

  • Jewish
  • Jewish Festival of Lights
  • Commemorates a miracle in which a sacred temple flame burned for eight days on only one day’s worth of oil, representing the struggle for religious freedom
  • The history of the holiday involves a historic military victory in which a Jewish sect, the Maccabees, defeated the Syrian Greeks
  • A menorah candle is lit each of the eight nights 
  • Observation includes food and song, as well as exchanging gifts each night
  • Academics and work are permitted
  • Provide food such as  potato pancakes (latkes), doughnuts and other fried food

December 21–January 1 — Yule

  • Pagan, Wiccan and Druid
  • Midwinter, Alban Arthan,  Winter Solstice and New Year
  • Commemorates the rebirth of the Great God, viewed as the newborn solstice sun, to mark the longest night of the year followed by the sun’s “rebirth” and lengthening of days
  • Observed by burning the yule log, which was traditionally part of last year’s yule tree, as an act of faith and renewal that the light and warmth will return

December 24–25 — Christmas

  • Roman Catholic and Protestant
  • Beginning at sundown on the first day, commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, whose message and self-sacrifice began the Christian religion
  • Observed by giving gifts, attending church services, decorating a Christmas tree, visiting family and eating a large meal
  • A national holiday in the United States, special accommodations may not be required