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Providing an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of our campus community, the university recognizes the importance of observance for religious holidays and holy days. This webpage serves as an educational resource about dates and practices that we hope will be valuable to those planning classroom activities and other academic and co-curricular events.

Contact us at odei@umsl.edu with questions about reasonable accommodations for religious observances. Additionally, if there is a religious observance missing from our calendar or if you would like to provide more information about a holiday currently on our calendar, please don't hesitate to reach out and inform us. We are committed to updating the calendar to better serve and represent our campus community.

Points to Remember

  • The religious observances below are grouped by month by which the holiday occurs. This religious observance calendar charts holidays and observances from many cultures/ belief groups. Some holidays do not follow the Gregorian calendar and may occur in different dates, and even months from year to year. This occurence can be referred to as 'Moving Holidays.' In such cases, the holidays will be grouped with the month in which they occur most frequently over the next three years. For example:
    • The holiday, The Birth of Bahá’u’lláh is a celebration important to those of the Bahá'i faith. Their holiday's date occurs on the first and second day following the eighth new moon after Naw-Rúz, another holiday important to Bahá'is. The Birth of Bahá’u’lláh occurs on November 3rd in 2024, October 23rd in 2025, and November 11th in 2026. As such the holiday will appear in the November section as for the next three years it will occur a majority of the time in November, but this will be updated year by year. 
  • “Kosher restrictions apply” refers to the dietary guidelines of Jewish law which apply daily throughout the year. Restrictions include pork, shellfish (fish is allowed) and mixing meat with dairy.
  • “Halal dietary restrictions apply” refers to the foods prohibited according to Islamic dietary law throughout the year. Restrictions include alcohol and pork.

Religious Observances in January

Gantan-sai (Shinto)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Gantan-sai is the annual New Year festival of the Shinto religion. Gantan-sai is a popular and important three-day Japanese holiday, and has been the Shinto celebration of New Year’s Day since 1873. The first of January is a public holiday in Japan and many businesses shut for the entire three days, from  January 1st to 3rd, with families and friends gathering to enjoy the season together, exchanging New Year’s Day cards and attending bonenkai (‘year forgetting’) parties.  It is traditional to visit a shrine or temple during this period.

General practices: Practitioners pray for inner renewal, prosperity, and health, as well as visiting shrines and visiting friends and family. 

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date (work holiday).

Date(s) observed:

  • January 1-3, 2024
  • January 1-3, 2025
  • January 1-3, 2026

Epiphany/Twelfth Night/Three Kings Day (Christian — Roman Catholic and Protestant)

This date is also known as Befana Day; commemorates the revelation of God through Jesus Christ. In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, and thus Jesus Christ's physical manifestation to the Gentiles. It is sometimes called Three Kings' Day, and in some traditions celebrated as Little Christmas. Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide.

Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus (but it is also called Epiphany) in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. 

General practices: Prayer, festive songs, chalking the door of their homes, festive meals, offerings, gifts.

Date(s) observed:

  • January 6, 2024
  • January 6, 2025
  • January 6, 2026

Christmas (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Christmas is an annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of the Christian faith whose message and self-sacrifice began the Christian religion.

Some jurisdictions of the Eastern Orthodox Church, including those of RussiaGeorgiaMacedoniaMontenegroSerbia, and Jerusalem, mark feasts using the older Julian calendar. As of 2024, there is a difference of 13 days between the Julian calendar and the modern Gregorian calendar, which is used internationally for most secular purposes. As a result, December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the calendar used by most governments and people in everyday life. Therefore, the aforementioned Orthodox Christians mark December 25 (and thus Christmas) on the day that is internationally considered to be January 7.

General practices: Many celebrate this holiday by attending church services, holding celebratory meals, and visiting family.

Date details: Eastern Orthodox Christmas is determined by the Julian calendar which regulates ceremonial cycle of the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.

Recommended accommodations: Because this holiday typically falls during winter break, academic accommodations may not be required. However many Eastern Orthodox employees will probably request this day off.

Date(s) observed:

  • January 7, 2024
  • January 7, 2025
  • January 7, 2026


Religious Observances in February

Chinese New Year (Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist)
Holiday with significant work restriction

The Chinese calendar defines the lunisolar month containing the winter solstice as the eleventh month, meaning that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (rarely the third if an intercalary month occurs). In more than 96% of years, the Chinese New Year is the closest new moon to the beginning of spring (lichun) according to the calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese New Year occurs on the new moon that falls between 21 January and 20 February.This is the most important of traditional Chinese holidays.

On the eighth day of the lunisolar month prior to Chinese New Year, the Laba Festival, a traditional porridge, Laba porridge (simplified Chinese: 腊八粥; traditional Chinese: 臘八粥; pinyin: làbā zhōu), is served in remembrance of an ancient festival, called La, that occurred shortly after the winter solstice. Pickles such as Laba garlic, which turns green from vinegar, are also made on this day. For those that practice Buddhism, the Laba holiday is also considered Bodhi DayLayue (simplified Chinese: 腊月; traditional Chinese: 臘月; pinyin: Làyuè) is a term often associated with Chinese New Year as it refers to the sacrifices held in honour of the gods in the twelfth lunisolar month, hence the cured meats of Chinese New Year are known as larou (simplified Chinese: 腊肉; traditional Chinese: 臘肉; pinyin: làròu). The porridge was prepared by the women of the household at first light, with the first bowl offered to the family's ancestors and the household deities. Every member of the family was then served a bowl, with leftovers distributed to relatives and friends.

In many households where Buddhism or Taoism is observed, home altars and statues are cleaned thoroughly, and decorations used to adorn altars over the past year are taken down and burned a week before the new year starts on Little New Year, to be replaced with new decorations. Taoists (and Buddhists to a lesser extent) will also "send gods back to heaven" (Chinese: 送神; pinyin: sòngshén), an example would be burning a paper effigy of the Kitchen God, the recorder of family functions. This is done so that the Kitchen God can report to the Jade Emperor of the family household's transgressions and good deeds. Families often offer sweet foods (such as candy) in order to "bribe" the deities into reporting good things about the family.

General practices: Families gather together to spend the evening preparing boiled dumplings and festive meals and giving of money to children in red envelopes.

Date details: Corresponds to the New Moon in Aquarius, which can fall from late January to mid-February.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on this date. Many Chinese employees will probably request this day off.

Date(s) observed:

  • February 10, 2024
  • January 29, 2025
  • February 17, 2026

Imbolc/Candlemas (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Imbolc is a Gaelic traditional festival. It marks the beginning of spring, and for Christians, it is the feast day of Saint Brigid, Ireland's patroness saint. Its traditional date is 1 February, about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox

It is believed that Imbolc was originally a pagan festival associated with the lambing season and the goddess Brigid. Historians suggest that the saint and her feast day are Christianizations of these. The customs of St Brigid's Day did not begin to be recorded in detail until the early modern era. In recent centuries, its traditions have included weaving Brigid's crosses, hung over doors and windows to protect against fire, illness, and evil spirits. People also made a doll of Brigid (a Brídeóg), which was paraded around the community by girls, sometimes accompanied by 'strawboys'. Brigid was said to visit one's home on St Brigid's Eve. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid, leave her food and drink, and set items of clothing outside for her to bless. Holy wells would be visited, a special meal would be had, and the day was traditionally linked with weather lore.

Although many of its traditions died out in the 20th century, it is still observed by some Christians as a religious holiday and by some non-Christians as a cultural one, and its customs have been revived in some places. Since the later 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Imbolc as a religious holiday. Since 2023, "Imbolc/St Brigid's Day" has been an annual public holiday in Ireland.

Also referred to as 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. For many traditions, a time for initiations, re-dedication and pledges for the coming year. One of the four “greater Sabbats.”

General practices: Activities might include making candles, reading poetry and telling stories.

Date(s) observed:

  • February 1-2, 2024
  • February 1-2, 2025
  • February 1-2, 2026

Setsubun-sai (Shinto)

Setsubun-sai marks the beginning of spring, and is known as the “bean-throwing festival.” The main ritual associated with the observance of Setsubun is mamemaki (豆撒き'bean scattering'); this ritual sees roasted soybeans (known as fukumame (福豆'fortune beans')) either thrown out of the front door, or at a member of the family wearing an oni (demon or ogre) mask while shouting 'Devils out! Fortune in!' (鬼は外! 福は内!Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!), before slamming the door. The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one's life (kazoedoshi), plus one more for bringing good luck for the year. The faithful scatter roasted beans to bring good luck to the new season.

General Practices: Participation in mamemaki bean scattering to purify the home, religious dances, festivals, and visitation of shrines. 

Date(s) observed:

  • February 3, 2024
  • February 3, 2025
  • February 3, 2026

Magha Puja Day (Buddhist)

Magha Puja Day is a Buddhist festival celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka and on the full moon day of Tabaung in Myanmar. It is the second most important Buddhist festival after Vesak; it celebrates a gathering that was held between the Buddha and 1,250 of his first disciples, which, according to tradition, preceded the custom of periodic recitation of discipline by monks. At a second, similar gathering 45 years later, also held on the first full moon of the third month, the Buddha announced that he intended to die in three months’ time. This announcement marks an important moment in Buddhist history. It is traditional to use this day to honor the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha (his enlightenment), the Sangha (the community of Buddhists around the world) and the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha).

On the day, Buddhists celebrate the creation of an ideal and exemplary community, which is why it is sometimes called Saṅgha Day, the Saṅgha referring to the Buddhist community, and for some Buddhist schools this is specifically the monastic community. commemorates an important event in the life of the Buddha, in which the four disciples traveled to join the Buddha.

Māgha Pūjā is a day that laypeople make merit, or this can be understood as good karma. This is usually done with a motivation to improve oneself in the cycle of existence. Monastics and lay devotees will hold processions, light candles, attending preaching and making offerings of food, as well as meditating and Buddhist chants. Also, devotees will sometimes release animals from captivity. Moreover, devotees uphold and reflect on the five Buddhist moral precepts on this day, which includes avoiding intoxicants. Māgha Pūjā is celebrated most extensively in Thailand, but it is a national holiday in most Southeast Asian countries, such as Laos and Myanmar.

General Practices: Visit shrines, making offerings, lighting candles, meditation, abstaining from gambling, alcohol, etc, and the making of merit through good deeds.

Date(s) observed:

  • February, 24, 2024
  • February 12, 2025
  • March 3, 2026

Ramadan (Islamic)

Ramadan is an occasion to focus on faith through fasting and prayer and is one of the most important Muslim holidays. Ramadan is notable because the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, was first revealed during this month, and Muslims see the Qur’an as the ultimate form of guidance for mankind. 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.

General practices: Fasting is required during the entire month of Ramadan. Muslims refrain from food and beverages during the daylight hours, and smoking and sexual relations are forbidden. Worshipers break the fasting each night with prayer, reading of the Qu’ran, and a meal called the iftar. In addition, many Muslims also attend night prayers at Mosques. Muslims also believe that their 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.

Date details: Dates are determined by the lunar calendar. Lunar calendars can vary based on region and practice. The observed date marks the beginning of a 30-day observation.

Recommended accommodations: If possible, avoid scheduling major academic deadlines during this time. Be sensitive to the fact that students and employees celebrating Ramadan will be fasting during the day (continuously for 30 days) and will likely have less stamina as a result. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • March 10 - April 9, 2024
  • February 28 - March 30, 2025
  • February 17 - March 18, 2026

Ash Wednesday (Christian — Roman Catholic and Protestant)

This is 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. Ash Wednesday is traditionally observed with fasting and abstinence from meat in several Christian denominations. As it is the first day of Lent, many Christians begin Ash Wednesday by marking a Lenten calendar, praying a Lenten daily devotional, and making a Lenten sacrifice that they will not partake of until the arrival of Eastertide.

Ash Wednesday is observed by numerous denominations within Western Christianity. Latin Church Catholics observe it along with certain Protestants like Lutherans, Anglicans, some Baptists, many Methodists (including Nazarenes and Wesleyans), the Evangelical Covenant Church, and some Mennonites. The Moravian Church and Metropolitan Community Churches observe Ash Wednesday. Churches in the United Protestant tradition, such as the Church of North India and United Church of Canada honour Ash Wednesday too. Some Independent Catholics, and the Community of Christ also observe it.

Reformed churches have historically not observed Ash Wednesday, nor Lent in general, due to the Reformed regulative principle of worship. Nevertheless, some churches in the Reformed tradition (including certain Congregationalist, Continental Reformed, and Presbyterian churches) do observe Lent today, although often as a voluntary observance.

General practices: On this day, there are special church services and the faithful wear a cross of ashes marked on foreheads. Most Christians abstain from meat on this day.

Recommended accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested; prohibitions include animal products.

Date(s) observed:

  • February 14, 2024
  • March 5, 2025
  • February 18, 2026


Religious Observances in March

Holi (Hindu)

Also known as the “Festival of Colors,” this holiday can be traced to Hindu scriptures commemorating good over evil. This date is also a celebration of the colorful spring and a farewell to the dull winter. It celebrates the eternal and divine love of the Hindu deities Radha and Krishna. Additionally, the day signifies the triumph of good over evil, as it commemorates the victory of Vishnu as Narasimha over Hiranyakashipu. Holi also celebrates the arrival of Spring in India, the end of winter, and the blossoming of love.

The night before Holi is called Holika Dahan or "Chhoti Holi" whereby people gather around a lit bonfire, symbolising the victory of good over evil and removal of the old and the arrival of the new. Various rituals are performed around the fire such as singing and dancing. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi (Dhuleti) where people smear and drench each other with colours. Water guns and water-filled balloons are often used to play and colour each other, with anyone and any place being considered fair game to colour. Groups often carry drums and other musical instruments going from place to place singing and dancing. Throughout the day people visit family, and friends and foes come together to chat, enjoy food and drink, and partake in Holi delicacies.

General practices: Hindus often sprinkle colored water and powder on others and celebrate with bonfires and lights, signifying victory of good over evil.

Date details: Celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar moon in late February or early March. 

Date(s) observed:

  • March 25-26, 2024
  • March 14-15, 2025
  • March 4-5, 2026


Purim (Jewish)

Purim commemorates the a story recounted within the Book, or Scroll of Esther, which is part of the Hebrew Bible. The story is set in ancient Persia, where a plot to annihilate the Jewish population is foiled by a Jewish woman named Esther, and her cousin Mordecai. Esther becomes the queen of Persia after winning a contest of beauty all the while concealing her Jewish identity. When Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman, the Persian king's viceroy, Haman in turn plans to destroy the Jews with the Persian king's permission. Esther instructs Mordecai to have the Jews of Persia fast and pray for three days, and after those three days fasting herself Esther risks her life by approaching the king revealing her heritage and pleading for her people's safety. The king executes Haman but he could not rescinds the previous decree, but allows Esther & Mordecai to write their own. Their decree permitted that the Jewish people could preemptively kill those thought to pose a lethal risk to their people, and the Jewish people celebrate their deliverance with feasting, gift-giving, and acts of charity.

General practices: Many Jews hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, dressing in costumes, and read the Book of Esther, also called the Megillah. Triangular fruit-filled pastries are eaten in opposition to the villain Haman, who wore a three-cornered hat. Gift giving of food and drink known as "mishloach manot." 

Recommended accommodations: Purim is not subject to the restrictions on work that affect some other holidays; however, some sources indicate that Jews should not go about their ordinary business at Purim out of respect for the festival. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (kosher restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • March 23-24, 2024
  • March 13-14, 2025
  • March 2-3, 2026

Ostara/Alban Eilir/Spring Equinox (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Also known as Eostre. Regarded as a time of fertility and conception. In some Wiccan traditions, it is marked as the time when the Goddess conceives the God’s child, which will be born at the winter solstice. One of eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

Known as Alban Eilir in strands of neo-druidry, this holiday is the second of three spring celebrations (the midpoint between Imbolc and Beltane), during which light and darkness are again in balance, with light on the rise. It is a time of new beginnings and of life emerging further from the grips of winter.

General practices: Lighting fires to commemorate the return of light in the spring and to honor the God and Goddess. Planting seeds for the rebirth of spring. Coloring eggs as a way of honoring fertility is also practiced.

Date(s) observed:

  • March 20, 2024
  • March 20, 2025
  • March 20, 2026

Naw Ruz (Baháʼí)

Holiday with significant work restriction

This is the Baháʼí New Year. The Báb, the founder of Bábism, and then Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, adopted the day as a holy day for the Baháʼí Faith, adopted from the tradional Nowruz holiday. It is a celebration of spring and new life. The holiday as now calculated does not always fall on the same day as the traditional festival, and does not incorporate a number of Persian cultural practices associated with the traditional holiday, but is a religious event featuring readings from Baháʼí scriptures. Naw Ruz follows the Baháʼí month of fasting and the holiday was instituted as a festival for those who observed the fast. 

General practices: Work and school are suspende. Festive music dancing, prayers, meetings, meals. Begins at sundown.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. As this is one of the nine Baháʼí holy days where work and school are suspended, workers may request the day off and students may not attend class on this day. 

Date(s) observed:

  • March 20-21, 2024
  • March 21-22, 2025
  • March 20-21, 2026

Palm Sunday (Christian — Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox Christianity)

Palm Sunday is the Christian holiday that occurs on the Sunday preceding Easter. A commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as crowds lined his path with palm fronds. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week; in Western Christianity, this is the beginning of the last week of the solemn season of Lent, preceding Eastertide, while in Eastern Christianity, Holy Week commences after the conclusion of Great Lent. 

In most Christian rites, Palm Sunday is celebrated by the blessing and distribution of palm branches (or the branches of other, native trees), representing the palm branches that the crowd scattered before Christ as he rode into Jerusalem. These palms are sometimes woven into crosses. The difficulty of procuring palms in unfavorable climates led to the substitution of branches of native trees, including boxolivewillow, and yew.

General practices: Prayer, distribution of palm leaves commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion.

Date(s) observed:

  • March 24, 2024
  • April 13, 2025
  • March 29, 2026

Religious Observances in April

Maundy Thursday (Christian — Roman Catholic and Protestant)

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday is the day during the Christian celebration of Holy Week that commemorates the Washing of the Feet (maundy) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ. Is the thursday before Easter. 

Maundy Thursday initiates the Paschal Triduum, the period which commemorates the passiondeath, and resurrection of Jesus. This period includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and ends on the evening of Easter Sunday. Many Christian denominations hold special worship services on Maundy Thursday evening. These services often include readings from the Bible recounting the events of the Last Supper, hymns, prayers, and reflections on the significance of Jesus washing his disciples' feet. One of the central rituals of Maundy Thursday is the ceremonial washing of feet, symbolizing humility, service, and the call to love one another as Jesus loved his disciples. In some churches, clergy or church members participate in foot washing ceremonies during the service. During the Maundy Thursday service, Holy Communion is often celebrated, recalling the Last Supper when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples, instructing them to do so in remembrance of him. In some traditions, the altar and sanctuary are stripped bare at the end of the Maundy Thursday service, symbolizing the abandonment and desolation experienced by Jesus in the hours leading up to his crucifixion.

General practices: Prayer, Communion (Eucharist), meals, and foot-washing ceremonies among some Christian denominations.

Date details: Always falls on the Thursday before Easter Sunday.

Date(s) observed:

  • March 28, 2024
  • April 17, 2025
  • April 2, 2026

Easter (Christian — Roman Catholic and Protestant)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Easter, also called Pascha (Aramaic, Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a Christian festival and cultural holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament of the Christian Bible as having occurred on the third day of his burial following his crucifixion. 

The Easter festival is kept in many different ways among Western Christians. The traditional, liturgical observation of Easter, as practised among Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and some Anglicans begins on the night of Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil which follows an ancient liturgy involving symbols of light, candles and water and numerous readings form the Old and New Testament.

Services continue on Easter Sunday and in a number of countries on Easter Monday. In parishes of the Moravian Church, as well as some other denominations such as the Methodist Churches, there is a tradition of Easter Sunrise Services often starting in cemeteries in remembrance of the biblical narrative in the Gospels, or other places in the open where the sunrise is visible.

Not all Christian identifying groups celebrate Easter. 

  • Many Puritans saw traditional feasts of the established Anglican Church, such as All Saints' Day and Easter, as abominations because the Bible does not mention them. 
  • Conservative Reformed denominations such as the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America likewise reject the celebration of Easter as a violation of the regulative principle of worship and what they see as its non-Scriptural origin.
  • Members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as part of their historic testimony against times and seasons, do not celebrate or observe Easter or any traditional feast days of the established Church, believing instead that "every day is the Lord's Day," and that elevation of one day above others suggests that it is acceptable to do un-Christian acts on other days. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Quakers were persecuted for this non-observance of Holy Days.
  • Groups such as the Restored Church of God reject the celebration of Easter, seeing it as originating in a pagan spring festival adopted by the Roman Catholic Church. 
  • Jehovah's Witnesses maintain a similar view, observing a yearly commemorative service of the Last Supper and the subsequent execution of Christ on the evening of Nisan 14 (as they calculate the dates derived from the lunar Hebrew calendar). It is commonly referred to by many Witnesses as simply "The Memorial". Jehovah's Witnesses believe that such verses as Luke 22:19–20 and 1 Corinthians 11:26 constitute a commandment to remember the death of Christ though not the resurrection.

General practices: Celebratory meals, family gatherings, distribution of colored eggs, baskets and chocolate bunnies. It is a celebration of renewal.

Date details: Easter Sunday is determined by the Gregorian calendar (Gregorian calendar regulates ceremonial cycle of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches).

Date(s) observed:

  • March 31, 2024
  • April 10, 2025
  • April 14, 2026


Good Friday (Christian — Roman Catholic and Protestant)

Good Friday is a Chirstian holiday that occurs on the Friday before Easter and it commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

Members of many Christian denominations, including the CatholicEastern OrthodoxLutheranAnglicanMethodistOriental OrthodoxUnited Protestant and some Reformed traditions (including certain Continental ReformedPresbyterian and Congregationalist churches), observe Good Friday with fasting and church services. In many Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist churches, the Service of the Great Three Hours' Agony is held from noon until 3 pm, the time duration that the Bible records as darkness covering the land to Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross. Communicants of the Moravian Church have a Good Friday tradition of cleaning gravestones in Moravian cemeteries.

General practices: Prayer, fasting, and noon or afternoon services in some Christian denominations.

Date details: Always falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Recommended accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested. Meat (fish not considered meat) is prohibited during meals for some.

Date(s) observed:

  • March 29, 2024
  • April 18, 2025
  • April 3, 2026

Pesach/Passover (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Pesach is a week-long observance commemorating the Biblical story of the Israelites' (Jewish slaves) escape from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. Per the Biblical Book of Exodus, following the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn in Egypt, the pharoah ordered the Isrealites to leave. The Passover sacrifice recalls the time when God "passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt" following the Israelites marking their doors with lamb's blood to avoid the plague. 

The centerpiece of Passover observance is the Seder, a ritual meal held on the first two nights of the holiday (in Israel, it is observed for one night). This story is recounted at the Passover meal by reading the Haggadah, a standardized tirual account of the Exodus story. The Seder plate contains symbolic foods, including matzah (unleavened bread), bitter herbs (usually horseradish), charoset (a sweet mixture of fruits and nuts), maror (bitter herbs), a roasted shank bone (symbolizing the Passover sacrifice), and a boiled egg (symbolizing renewal). Throughout the eight days of Passover (seven days in Israel), Jews abstain from eating chametz, which includes any leavened food products. Instead, they eat matzah, unleavened bread, to symbolize the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt, not allowing time for their bread to rise.

General practices: Family gatherings, ritualized meals called Seders, reading of the Haggadah, lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the last night of Passover.

Date details: Begins at sundown.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first two and last two days of the holiday. Provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply — the use of leavening is prohibited, so matzah is eaten in place of bread, for example.)

Date(s) observed:

  • April 22-30, 2024
  • April 12-20, 2025
  • April 1-9, 2026

Vaisakhi (Sikh) (Hindu)

Vaisakhi marks the first day of the month of Vaisakh and is traditionally celebrated annually on 13 April and sometimes 14 April. It is seen as a spring harvest celebration primarily in Punjab and Northern India. Vaisakhi as a major Sikh festival marks the birth of the Khalsa order by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhism, on 13 April 1699. The Khalsa is a distinct community of initiated Sikhs committed to living according to the highest ethical and spritual ideals. 

Later, Ranjit Singh was proclaimed as Maharaja (king) of the Sikh Empire on 12 April 1801 (to coincide with Vaisakhi), creating a unified political state. Vaisakhi was also the day when Bengal Army officer Reginald Dyer orders his troops to shoot into a protesting crowd, an event which would come to be known the Jallianwala Bagh massacre; the massacre proved influential to the history of the Indian independence movement.

This holiday is observed by Hindus and is known by various regional names in other parts of India. For many Hindu communities, the festival is an occasion to ritually bathe in sacred rivers such as Ganges, Jhelum, and Kaveri, visit temples, meet friends, take part in other festivities, and perform a mandatory daan (charity) especially of hand fans, water pitchers and seasonal fruits. Community fairs are held at Hindu pilgrimage sites. In many areas, processions of temple deities are taken out. Although Vaisakhi began as a grain harvest festival for Hindus it eventually gained historical association with the Sikhs.

General practices: There are often parades, dancing, and singing throughout the day. These celebrations involve music, singing, and chanting of scriptures and hymns.

Date(s) observed:

  • April 13, 2024
  • April 14, 2025
  • April 14, 2026

Eid al-Fitr  (Islamic)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Eid al-Fitr means “break the fast” and is the last day of Ramadan, marking the end of a month of fasting. The phrase commonly used by Muslims to wish someone a happy Eid is “Eid Mubarak,” which translates to “Blessed Eid” in Arabic. As it comes after a month of fasting, sweet dishes and foods are often prepared and consumed during the celebration. Muslims typically decorate their homes, and are also encouraged to forgive each other and seek forgiveness. In countries with large Muslim populations, it is normally a public holiday with most schools and businesses closed for the day. Practices differ by country and region.

Eid al-Fitr begins at sunset on the night of the first sighting of the crescent moon. The night on which the moon is sighted is celebrated as Chand Raat. If the moon is not observed immediately after the 29th day of the previous lunar month (either because clouds block its view or because the western sky is still too bright when the moon sets), then the holiday is celebrated the following day.

The Eid prayer is performed by the congregation in an open area such as a field, community center, or mosque. No call to prayer is given for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two units of prayer, with a variable amount of Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying "Allāhu ʾAkbar", meaning "God is the greatest") and other prayer elements depending on the branch of Islam observed. The Eid prayer is followed by the sermon and then a supplication asking for God's forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world. The sermon also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat (religious obligation of almsgiving). The sermon of Eid takes place after the Eid prayer, unlike Friday prayer which comes first before prayer.

General practices: Muslims often pray, exchange gifts, give money to children, feast, and celebrate with friends and family.

Date details: Dates are determined by the lunar calendar. Lunar calendars can vary based on region and practice. Eid al Fitr is a three day celebration and begins at sundown.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. Employees will likely ask to take a vacation day on this day, and that request should be granted if at all possible. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • April 9-10, 2024
  • May 30-31, 2025
  • March 20, 2026

Pascha/Easter (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Easter, also called Pascha (Aramaic, Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a Christian festival and cultural holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament of the Christian Bible as having occurred on the third day of his burial following his crucifixion. 

In Eastern Christianity, the same days and events are commemorated with the names of days all starting with "Holy" or "Holy and Great"; and Easter itself might be called "Great and Holy Pascha", "Easter Sunday", "Pascha" or "Sunday of Pascha". In Eastern Christianity, the Paschal season ends with Pentecost as well, but the leave-taking of the Great Feast of Pascha is on the 39th day, the day before the Feast of the Ascension.

Preparation for Easter begins with the season of Great Lent, which begins on Clean Monday. While the end of Lent is Lazarus Saturday, fasting does not end until Easter Sunday. The Orthodox service begins late Saturday evening, observing the Jewish tradition that evening is the start of liturgical holy days. The church is darkened, then the priest lights a candle at midnight, representing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Altar servers light additional candles, with a procession which moves three times around the church to represent the three days in the tomb. The service continues early into Sunday morning, with a feast to end the fasting. An additional service is held later that day on Easter Sunday.

General practices: Celebratory meals, family gatherings, distribution of colored eggs and baskets of breads, meats, eggs, cheeses and other foods. It is a celebration of renewal.

Date details: Easter Sunday is determined by the Julian calendar which regulates ceremonial cycle of the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.

Date(s) observed:

  • May 5, 2024
  • April 20, 2025
  • April 12, 2026

Great and Holy Friday/Good Friday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)

Great and Holy Friday, also known as Good Friday is a Chirstian holiday that occurs on the Friday before Easter and it commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Good Friday different than Western Christian denominations. On Great Friday, the clergy no longer wear the purple or red that is customary throughout Great Lent, but instead don black vestments. There is no "stripping of the altar" on Holy and Great Thursday as in the West; instead, all of the church hangings are changed to black, and will remain so until the Divine Liturgy on Great Saturday. 

The Eastern Orthodox Christian observance of Holy and Great Friday, which is formally known as The Order of Holy and Saving Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, begins on Thursday night with the Matins of the Twelve Passion Gospels. Scattered throughout this Matins service are twelve readings from all four of the Gospels which recount the events of the Passion from the Last Supper through the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Some churches have a candelabrum with twelve candles on it, and after each Gospel reading one of the candles is extinguished. 

The next day, in the forenoon on Friday, all gather again to pray the Royal Hours, a special expanded celebration of the Little Hours (including the First Hour, Third HourSixth HourNinth Hour and Typica) with the addition of scripture readings (Old TestamentEpistle and Gospel) and hymns about the Crucifixion at each of the Hours (some of the material from the previous night is repeated). 

General practices: Prayer, fasting, confession, and church services as well as the wrapping or dying of eggs (often red) in preparation for Easter Sunday.

Date details: Orthodox Good Friday is determined by the Julian calendar which regulates ceremonial cycle of the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the date.

Date(s) observed:

  • May 3, 2024
  • April 18, 2025
  • April 10, 2026

Religious Observances in May

Buddha Day/Visakha Puja (Buddhist)

Buddha Day is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhists in South Asia, Southeast Asia, as well as Tibet and Mongolia and is often regarded as the most important Buddhist festival. This holiday is traditionally known as Buddha’s birthday. The holiday is also known as Vesak, Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, and Visakha Puja. The name Vesak is derived from the Pali term vesākha or Sanskrit vaiśākha for the lunar month of Vaisakha, which is considered the month of Buddha's birth.

This Buddhist festival, commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Typically Buddhists congregate in their temples before dawn to hoist the Buddhist flagm subg hymns, and pray. Devotees may bring various offerings to the temple. Devotees are enjoined in an effort to refrain from killing of any kind, and as such typically eat only vegetarian foods for the day. In some areas birds, insects, and animals are released in great numbers in what is known as life release to give freedom to those who are in captivity, but in some countries this practice is banned due to potential effects to local ecosystems. 

In regards to the date of the holiday, the month of May usually has one full moon, but as there are 29.5 days between full moons, occasionally there are two. If there are two full moons during the month of May, some countries (including Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Malaysia) celebrate Vesak on the first full moon, while others (Thailand, Singapore) celebrate the holiday on the full moon of 4th lunar month. The difference also manifests in the observance of other Buddhist holidays, which are traditionally observed at the local full moon.

General practices: Buddhists often decorate their homes and visit their local temples. Observers are encouraged to refrain from slaughtering and to avoid eating meat on this date. Observers give gifts of cash and make goodwill by conducting charitable acts. 

Recommended accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested, and offer vegetarian options when planning menus for events on this date.

Date(s) observed:

  • May 15, 2024
  • May 5, 2025
  • May 1, 2026

Yom HaSho’ah (Jewish)

Holocaust Remembrance Day; a day to remember the lives and names of Jewish victims and activists of the Holocaust. It is a national memorial day in Israel. The first official commemorations took place in 1951, and the observance of the day was anchored in a law passed by the Knesset in 1959. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (which falls in April or May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day. 

In the last few decades all the prayerbooks of Conservative and Reform Judaism have developed similar liturgies to be used on Yom HaShoah. The siddurim of these groups add passages that are meant to be added to standard weekday service, as well as stand-alone sections. These liturgies generally include:

  • Lighting of a candle (often each member of the congregation lights one)
  • Modern poems, including "I believe in the sun even when it is not shining..."
  • El Malei Rahamim (God, full of mercy, dwelling on high)
  • Mourner's Kaddish

In response to the lack of liturgy dedicated to Yom HaShoah, Daniel Gross composed, in 2009, I Believe: A Shoah Requiem, a complete musical liturgy dedicated to the observance of Yom HaShoah. 

General practices: Ceremonies or events to remember Holocaust victims who died during World War II. Activities may include lighting memorial candles and reciting the Kaddish, which is a prayer for the departed.

Date details: Begins at sundown.

Recommended accommodations: This is not a work holiday. Academics and work are permitted. Provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • May 4-5, 2024
  • April 24-25, 2025
  • April 13-14, 2026

Beltane (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Beltane, also spelled Bealtaine, is fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals for followers of Wicca. Historically, Beltane was widely observed in IrelandScotland, and the Isle of Man. Rituals were performed to protect cattle, people and crops, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, whose flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around or between bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Bealtaine bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast. Doors, windows, byres and livestock would be decorated with yellow May flowers, and in parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: typically a thorn bush or branch decorated with flowers, ribbons, bright shells and rushlights.

Bealtaine and Bealtaine-based festivals are held by some Neopagans. As there are many kinds of Neopaganism, their Bealtaine celebrations can be very different despite the shared name. Some try to emulate the historic festival as much as possible. Neopagans usually celebrate Beltane on 30 April – 1 May in the Northern Hemisphere and 31 October – 1 November in the Southern Hemisphere, beginning and ending at sunset. Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice (or the full moon nearest this point). In the Northern Hemisphere, this midpoint is when the ecliptic longitude of the Sun reaches 45 degrees.

Wiccans use the name Beltane or Beltain for their May Day celebrations. It is one of the yearly Sabbats of their Wheel of the Year, following Ostara and preceding Midsummer. In general, the Wiccan Beltane is more akin to the Germanic/English May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing).

Celtic Reconstructionists usually celebrate Bealtaine when the local hawthorn trees are in bloom. Many observe the traditional bonfire rites, to whatever extent this is feasible where they live. This may involve passing themselves and their pets or livestock between two bonfires, and bringing home a candle lit from the bonfire. If they are unable to make a bonfire or attend a bonfire ceremony, candles may be used instead.

The fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General practices: Jumping the balefire, dancing around the MayPole, feasting, visiting of Holy Wells.

Date(s) observed:

  • May 1, 2024
  • May 1, 2025
  • May 1, 2026

Ascension of the Baháʼu'lláh (Baha’i)

Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, passed away on 29 May, 1892. This day is commemorated by Baha’is all over the world and is known as ‘The Ascension of Baha’u’llah’.

Customarily (although this is not a requirement), at 3 in the morning, following an evening of prayer and reflection,  Baha’is stand and face Qiblih (the direction Baháʼís face when saying their daily prayers, oriented to the Shrine of Baháʼu'lláh near Acre in present-day Israel) while one from amongst them reads a scripture known as the Tablet of Visitation. 

General practices: Devotional programs and reading from the scriptures. 

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. As this is one of the nine Baháʼí holy days where work and school are suspended, workers may request the day off and students may not attend class on this day. 

Date(s) observed:

  • May 29, 2024
  • May 29, 2025
  • May 29, 2026

Religious Observances in June

Shavuot (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

The word Shavuot means "weeks", and its date is directly linked to that of Passover; the Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, beginning on the second day of Passover, to be immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the giving of the Torah. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to the Pharaoh; on Shavuot, they were given their holy book, the Torah, and became a nation committed to serving their God. 

It is marked by various customs and traditions that symbolize the importance of Torah in Jewish life. Throughout the night of Shavuot, Jews engage in intensive Torah study sessions, known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot, underscoring their commitment to learning and observing the teachings of the Torah. Synagogues hold special services with prayers and readings focusing on themes of revelation and gratitude. One notable tradition involves consuming dairy foods, such as cheesecake and blintzes, which carry symbolic significance related to the sweetness of the Torah or the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey. Homes and synagogues may be decorated with flowers to symbolize the blossoming of nature and the beauty of the Torah. Additionally, the Book of Ruth is read during synagogue services, highlighting themes of loyalty, faith, and the acceptance of Torah. Shavuot is also a time for confirmation and conversion ceremonies in some Jewish denominations, as well as for acts of charity and kindness.

Note: While Shavuot is sometimes referred to as Pentecost (in Koinē Greek: Πεντηκοστή) due to its timing after Passover, "pentecost" meaning "fifty" in Greek, and Shavuot occurring fifty days after the first day of Pesach/Passover, it is not the same celebration as the Christian Pentecost, which comes fifty days after Pascha/Easter.

General practices: Evening of devotional programs and studying the Torah, lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the second night of Shavuot. Consumption of dairy foods.

Date details: Begins at sundown. It occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan; in the 21st century, it may fall between May 15 and June 14 on the Gregorian calendar.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first two and last two days of the holiday. Provide food accommodation as requested. (Kosher restrictions apply, though it is customary to eat dairy.)

Date(s) observed:

  • June 11-13, 2024
  • June 1-3, 2025
  • May 21-26, 2026


Litha/Midsummer/Alban Hefin/Summer Solstice (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

A celebration of the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. Celebration of the the Goddess manifesting as Mother Earth and the God as the Sun King. For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest’s fruits. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

Midsummer has pagan pre-Christian roots in Europe. As forms of Neopaganism have widely different origins, observances can vary considerably despite the shared name. Some celebrate in a manner as close as possible to how they believe ancient pagans observed the summer solstice, while others observe the holiday with rituals culled from numerous other unrelated sources. Germanic neopagans call their summer solstice festival Litha. This neopagan group emphasizes what they believe to be the reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon Germanic paganism. 

Historically celebrated with hilltop bonfires and dancing. Many people attempted to jump over or through the bonfires for good luck. Other European traditions included setting large wheels on fire, and rolling them down a hill into a body of water. 

General practices: Lighting bonfires and watching the sun rise.

Date(s) observed:

  • June 24, 2024
  • June 24, 2025
  • June 24, 2026

Eid al-Adha (Islamic)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Eid al-Adha is a major festival that 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.

Depending on the country, the celebrations of Eid-ul-Adha can last anywhere between two and four days. The act of Qurbani (sacrifice) is carried out following the Eid Salaah (Eid Prayers), which are performed in congregation at the nearest Mosque on the morning of Eid.

In Egypt, the Eid al-Adha celebration lasts for 3 days from June 16th to 19th, 2024. The first full day, June 17th, is a public holiday where people have the day off. Schools and most businesses are closed.

In Turkey, the festival is known as Kurban Bayramı and is celebrated for 4–5 days as a public holiday. During this time, many Turkish people travel to their hometowns, which leads to big cities and tourist attractions being less crowded. Government offices, banks, some supermarkets, and restaurants will be closed during the holiday period.

In Saudi Arabia, the holiday lasts for 3 days. 

General practices: Prayers, gift giving, prayers, and sometimes slaughtering of sheep, with a portion of the meat gifted to the poor.

Date details: Lunar calendars vary based on region and practice. Begins at sundown.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on the first day. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • June 16-17, 2024
  • June 6-7, 2025
  • May 26-27 2026

Religious Observances in July

Religious Observances in August

Lammas / Lughnasadh (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Lughnasadh is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of ManA celebration of the beginning of the harvest. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals. The sabbat occurs on August 1, which is about halfway between the summer solstice (Litha) and the fall equinox (Mabon). This holiday celebrates the grain harvest. 

Lammas is an early English church holiday adapted from Gaelic cultures that celebrated Lughnasadh. Celebrated in some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere, it was kept as a harvest festival, when loaves of bread made from the new grain were consecrated. Its name was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “loaf-mass.”

General practices: Making and consuming dishes with the first fruits of the harvest.

Date(s) observed:

  • August 1, 2024
  • August 1, 2025
  • August 1, 2026

Tisha B’Av (Jewish)

Tisha B'Av, or the Ninth of Av, is a solemn day of mourning observed by the Jewish community to commemorate a series of tragedies, most notably the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. On this day, Jews engage in fasting and prayer, refraining from eating and drinking for a 25-hour period, similar to the observance of Yom Kippur. Synagogue services are held throughout the day, with special liturgies, readings from the Book of Lamentations (Eicha), and recitations of kinot (elegies) that lament the loss of the Temples and other calamities in Jewish history. Many refrain from engaging in joyful activities, such as listening to music or attending weddings, as a sign of mourning. Some may also avoid wearing leather shoes and bathing as expressions of grief and humility. Additionally, community gatherings and educational programs may focus on themes of repentance, redemption, and the importance of preserving Jewish heritage and memory.

General practices: Fasting and mourning.

Date details: Begins at sundown on first day, fast deferred because of the Sabbath.

Recommended accommodations: Plan limited activities after a fast.

Date(s) observed:

  • August 12-13, 2024
  • August 2-3, 2025
  • July 22-23, 2026

Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)

This two-day festival celebrates the birth of Krishna, a widely-worshiped Hindu god. Krishna is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher and philosopher. The occasion is observed especially in the cities of Mathura and Vrindavan (Brindaban), the scenes of Krishna’s childhood and early youth. On the preceding day, devotees keep a vigil and fast until midnight, the traditional hour of his birth. Then the image of Krishna is bathed in water and milk, dressed in new clothes, and worshipped. Temples and household shrines are decorated with leaves and flowers; sweetmeats are first offered to the god and then distributed as prasada (the god’s leftovers, which carry his favour) to all the members of the household. 

General practices: During this festival, Hindus are likely to forgo sleep in order to sing bhajans, traditional Hindu songs. Many Hindus also fast during the first day of the festival. Dances, songs and plays depicting the life of Krishna are common.

Date details: The first day is called Krishan ashtami or Gokul ashtami. The second day is known as Kaal ashtami or more popularly Janam ashtami.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines on this day, since it is likely that students will be operating on very little sleep.

Date(s) observed:

  • August 26, 2024
  • August 15, 2025
  • September 4, 2026

Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)

Raksha Bandhan is observed on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shravana, which typically falls in August. The expression "Raksha Bandhan" (Sanskrit, literally "the bond of protection, obligation, or care") is now principally applied to this ritual. 

On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman or amulet called the rakhi around the wrists of their brothers. They symbolically protect them, receive a gift in return, and traditionally invest the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care.

General practices: A day to acknowledge siblings and their relationships.

Date(s) observed:

  • August 19, 2024
  • August 9, 2025
  • August 28, 2026

Religious Observances in September

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Start of the Jewish New Year, day of judgment and remembrance; the Jewish calendar celebrates the New Year in the seventh month (Tishrei) as a day of rest and celebration ten days before Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the civil year, according to the teachings of Judaism, and is the traditional anniversary of the creation of the Abrahamic figures Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Hebrew Bible.

Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram's horn), as prescribed in the Torah, following the prescription of the Hebrew Bible to "raise a noise" on Yom Teruah. Its rabbinical customs include attending synagogue services and reciting special liturgy about teshuva, as well as enjoying festive meals. Eating symbolic foods, such as apples dipped in honey, hoping to evoke a sweet new year, is an ancient tradition recorded in the Talmud.

General practices: Prayer in synagogue and festive meals

Date details: Begins at sundown.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. If planning an event, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • October 2-4, 2024
  • September 22-24, 2025
  • September 11-13, 2026

Mabon / Alban Elfed / Autumnal Equinox (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Also referred to as Harvest Home, the Feast of the Ingathering, and Meán Fómhair. Mabon is the second celebration of the harvest after the Lammas harvest. It is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of their Goddess and their God during the coming winter months. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology.

General practices: At Mabon, day and night are in equal balance. It is a time to offer gratitude for the blessings of the harvest and also to begin to prepare for turning inward. Making dishes with apples, squash and pumpkins as part of ritual celebration is customary.

Date(s) observed:

  • September 21-29, 2024
  • September 21-29, 2025
  • September 21-29, 2026

Religious Observances in October

Yom Kippur (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Yom Kippur is often considered the holiest day of the year for Jewish people. For traditional Jewish people, it is primarily centered on atonement and repentance. The day's main observances consist of fasting and asceticism, both accompanied by extended prayer services (usually at synagogue) and sin confessions. Many Jewish denominations, such as Reconstructionist Judaism (vs. ReformConservativeOrthodox, etc.), focus less on sins and more on one’s goals and accomplishments and setting yearly intentions.

General practices: During Yom Kippur, Jewish people fast from before sundown until after sunset, and light a Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the night of Yom Kippur.

Date details: Begins at sundown.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date and after a day of fasting.

Date(s) observed:

  • October 11-12, 2024
  • October 1-2, 2025
  • September 20-21, 2026

Sukkot (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Sukkot is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals on which Israelites were commanded by their deity to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Originally a harvest festival celebrating the autumn harvest, Sukkot’s modern observance is characterized by festive meals in a sukkah, a temporary wood-covered hut, celebrating the Exodus from Egypt. 

The holiday lasts seven days in the Land of Israel and eight in the diaspora. The first day (and second day in the diaspora) is a Shabbat-like holiday when work is forbidden. This is followed by intermediate days called Chol HaMoed, during which certain work is permitted. The festival is closed with another Shabbat-like holiday called Shemini Atzeret (one day in the Land of Israel, two days in the diaspora, where the second day is called Simchat Torah). Shemini Atzeret coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside the Land of Israel.

General practices: Families in the United States commonly decorate the sukkah with produce and artwork.

Date details: Begins at sundown. Work holiday varies by denomination.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on the first two days. If planning an event, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • October 16-23, 2024
  • October 6-13, 2025
  • September 25 - October 2, 2026

Shemini Atzeret (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

It directly follows the Jewish festival of Sukkot which is celebrated for seven days, and thus Shemini Atzeret is literally the eighth day. It is a separate—yet connected—holy day devoted to the spiritual aspects of the festival of Sukkot. Also known as Atzereth, this is a fall festival, which includes a memorial service for the dead and features prayers for rain in Israel.

In the Land of Israel, the celebrations of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are combined on a single day, and the names are used interchangeably. Outside of Israel, often referred to as the Diaspora, the celebration of Simchat Torah is deferred to the second day of the holiday. Commonly, only the first day is referred to as Shemini Atzeret, while the second is called Simchat Torah.

General practices: Jews light a Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on Shemini Atzereth (the eighth night of Sukkot).

Date details: Begins at sundown.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. If planning an event, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

Date(s) observed:

  • October 23-25, 2024
  • October 13-15, 2025
  • October 2-4, 2026

Simchat Torah (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Simchat Torah marks the completion of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah in the synagogue and the beginning of the new cycle. The main celebrations of Simchat Torah take place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. In many Orthodox as well as many Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year on which the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read at night. In the morning, the last parashah of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. 

Parashah, a Hebrew term meaning 'portion' or 'section,' refers to a weekly Torah portion read by Jewish communities during Shabbat (Sabbath) services. Each parashah consists of a specific selection from the Torah, the central sacred text of Judaism, and is traditionally read aloud in synagogues around the world. These readings follow an annual cycle, with each parashah offering insights into Jewish history, law, ethics, and spirituality.

General practices: Practitioners dance in synagogues as all the Torah scrolls are carried around in seven circuits.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on this date. Kosher restrictions apply.

Date(s) observed:

  • October 24-25, 2024
  • October 14-15, 2025
  • October 3-4, 2026

Navaratri (Hindu)

Navarati or the nine sacred nights dedicated to the Mother Goddess, are celebrated in the month of October-November. Navaratri includes the Sarasvati Puja and the Durga Puja festivals. "Nava" means nine and "ratri" means night. So, Navaratri literally means nine nights. During these nine nights of festivities, the Mother Goddess is worshiped in her different forms. While the pattern varies somewhat by region, generally the first third of the festival focuses on aspects of the goddess Durga, the second third on the goddess Lakshmi, and the final third on the goddess Sarasvati.

The Navaratri celebrations are held at night to overcome the influence of tamas, the mode of ignorance that is said to prevail during this time. Additionally, Navaratri commemorates the day on which the combined powers of the three Goddesses of Durga or Maha-Kali, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Sarasvati put an end to the evil forces represented by the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura.

The ninth day is also the day of the Ayudha Puja. The Ayudha Puja involves worship of whatever instruments one may use in one's livelihood. On the proceeding evening, it is traditional to place these instruments on an altar to the Divine. If one can make a conscious effort to see the Divine in the tools and objects one uses each day, it will help one to see one's work as an offering to God. 

In some regions, the holiday of Dussehra is collected into Navratri, and the entire 10-day celebration is known by that name. Whether throughout the festival or as the 10th day, Dussehra is a time to celebrate the triumphs of good over evil, such as Durga’s victory over Mahishasura. In some parts of India, Dussehra is associated with the victory of the god Rama over the demon-king Ravana. In northern India the Ram Lila (“Play of Rama”) is the highlight of the festival. On successive nights different episodes of the epic poem the Ramayana are dramatized by young actors elaborately costumed and masked; the pageant is always climaxed by the burning of huge effigies of the demons. Athletic tournaments and hunting expeditions are often organized. Some celebrate by erecting bonfires and burning effigies of Ravana, which are sometimes stuffed with fireworks. In many regions Dussehra is considered an auspicious time to begin educational or artistic pursuits, especially for children.

General practices: Durga is the mother goddess, and so Hindus try to visit their mothers and other relatives during this time. Some Hindus will pray and fast, and there are are often feasts and dances.

Date(s) observed:

  • October 3-12, 2024
  • September 22 - October 2, 2025
  • October 11-20, 2026

Samhain (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”) is a pagan religious festival originating from an ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. Taking place at the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstic, it is one of the four “greater Sabbats.”

Ancient Celtic celebrants joined with Druid priests to light a community fire using a wheel that would cause friction and spark flames. The wheel was considered a representation of the sun and used along with prayers. Cattle were sacrificed, and participants took a flame from the communal bonfire back to their home to relight the hearth. Early texts present Samhain as a mandatory celebration lasting three days and three nights where the community was required to show themselves to local kings or chieftains. Failure to participate was believed to result in punishment from the gods, usually illness or death. Some documents mention six days of drinking alcohol to excess along with feasting.

A broad revival of Samhain resembling its traditional pagan form began in the 1980s with the growing popularity of Wicca. Wicca celebration of Samhain takes on many forms, from the traditional fire ceremonies to celebrations that embrace many aspects of modern Halloween, as well as activities related to honoring nature or ancestors. Wiccans look at Samhain as the passing of the year, and incorporate common Wiccan traditions into the celebration.

In the Druid tradition, Samhain celebrates the dead with a festival on October 31 and usually features a bonfire and communion with the dead. American pagans often hold music and dance celebrations called Witches’ Balls in proximity to Samhain.

Pagans who embrace Celtic traditions with the intent of reintroducing them faithfully into modern paganism are called Celtic Reconstructionists. In this tradition, Samhain is called Oiche Shamnhna and celebrates the mating between Tuatha de Danaan gods Dagda and River Unis. Celtic Reconstructionists celebrate by placing juniper decorations around their homes and creating an altar for the dead where a feast is held in honor of deceased loved ones.

Generally a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, welcome those born during the past year into the community, and reflecting on past relationships, events and other significant changes in life.

General practices: Paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. Lighting ceremonial fires and feasting. 

Date(s) observed:

  • October 31-Nov. 1, 2024
  • October 31-Nov. 1, 2025
  • October 31-Nov. 1, 2026

Religious Observances in November

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh (Bahá'i)
Holiday with significant work restriction

This holiday celebrates the birthday of Mirza Husayn-Ali, who is known to the world by His title, Baha’u’llah, was born in Tehran, Iran on 12 November, 1817. Baha’u’llah means “Glory of God” in Arabic and He is the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'i Faith. The anniversary of the day He was born is celebrated alongside the Birth of the Báb, who is considered in the Bahá'i faith as a Manifestation of God. The Manifestation of God is a concept of the Bahá'i faith that refers to what are commonly called prophets, wherein they are the only channel for humanity to know about God because these Manifestations of God are believed to act as a perfect mirror reflecting the attributes of God into the physical world. 

These two days are considered one in the "sight of God" and are referred as the Twin Birthdays or Twin Holy Days. ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, the son of Baháʼu'lláh, stated that during the holy day the community should rejoice together to increase the unity of the community. Baháʼís usually observe the holy day with community gatherings where prayers are shared and the birth of Baháʼu'lláh is celebrated. Baháʼu'lláh stated that in communities where the majority of the population are Shiʻa Muslims, such as Iran, his followers should exercise caution in celebrating the twin birthdays so that they do not upset the majority of the population who are mourning during the Islamic month of Muharram.

Until March 20, 2015, in most of the world, the holy day was celebrated according to the solar year on 12 November, and the birth of the Báb was celebrated on 20 October. Since days in the Baháʼí calendar start at sunset, the holy day started on the evening of 11 November and proceeded until sunset on 12 November. However, in 2014, the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith whose creation was ordained by Bahá’u’lláh, decided to celebrate the Twin Holy Days on the first and second day following the eighth new moon after Naw-Rúz, starting from March 20, 2015 onwards. Thus from March 20, 2015 onward the day where the Birth of Baháʼu'lláh is celebrated will change from year to year.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. Baha’i employees will likely request to have this day off.

Date(s) observed:

  • November 3, 2024
  • October 23, 2025
  • November 11, 2026

Diwali (Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Diwali, the Hindu “festival of lights,” is an extremely popular holiday for multiple religions throughout southern Asia. Diwali extends over five days and celebrates the victory of good over evil. The Times of India described Diwali as “a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple.” Fireworks, oil lamps, and sweets are common, making this a favorite holiday for children.

Diwali is connected to various religious events, deities and personalities, such as being the day Rama returned to his kingdom in Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating the demon king Ravana. It is also widely associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and Ganesha, the god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles. Lamps are lit to help the goddess Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes.

The festival is an annual homecoming and bonding period not only for families, but also for communities and associations, particularly those in urban areas, which will organise activities, events and gatherings. Many towns organise community parades and fairs with parades or music and dance performances in parks. Some Hindus, Jains and Sikhs will send Diwali greeting cards to family near and far during the festive season, occasionally with boxes of Indian confectionery. Another aspect of the festival is remembrance of ancestors.

General practices: Lighting oil lamps and candles, setting off fireworks and prayer.

Recommended accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on this date. Hindu employees will likely request to have this dat off.

Date(s) observed:

  • November 1, 2024
  • October 20, 2025
  • November 8, 2026

Religious Observances in December

Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Christian; Roman Catholic – Holy Day of Obligation)

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, also called Immaculate Conception Day, is a Christian holiday that celebrates the life and Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, celebrated on December 8, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, celebrated on September 8. It is one of the most important Marian feasts in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church celebrated worldwide.

The feast was solemnized as a holy day of obligation on 6 December 1708,[1] by the papal bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus of Pope Clement XI.

By Pontifical decree, it is the patronal feast day of Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines, Spain, the United States, and Uruguay. By royal decree, it is designated as the day honoring the patroness of Portugal. It is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church and some select Protestant Christian denominations. Since 1953, the Pope visits the Column of the Immaculate Conception in the Piazza di Spagna to offer expiatory prayers commemorating the solemn event.

General Practices: It is celebrated with Masses, parades, fireworks, processions, food and cultural festivities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Catholic countries.

Date(s) observed:

  • Dec. 8, 2024
  • Dec. 8, 2025
  • Dec. 8, 2026

Christmas (Christian — Roman Catholic and Protestant)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Christmas is an annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of the Christian faith whose message and self-sacrifice began the Christian religion. feast central to the liturgical year in Christianity, it follows the season of Advent (which begins four Sundays before) or the Nativity Fast, and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night.

Christmas Day (inclusive of its vigil, Christmas Eve), is a Festival in the Lutheran Churches, a solemnity in the Roman Catholic Church, and a Principal Feast of the Anglican Communion. Other Christian denominations do not rank their feast days but nevertheless place importance on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, as with other Christian feasts like Easter, Ascension Day, and Pentecost. As such, for Christians, attending a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church service plays an important part in the recognition of the Christmas season

General practices: Many celebrate this holiday by giving gifts, attending church services, decorating Christmas trees and visiting family.

Date details: Begins at sundown on Dec. 24 annually and continues with all day celebration on Dec. 25.

Recommended accommodations: This is a national holiday in the United States, so special accommodations are likely not required.

Date(s) observed:

  • December 24-25, 2024
  • December 24-25, 2025
  • December 24-25, 2026


As an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Given the profound significance Kwanzaa has for African Americans and indeed, the world African community, it is imperative that an authoritative source and site be made available to give an accurate and expansive account of its origins, concepts, values, symbols and practice. Dr. Maulana Karenga marked Kwanzaa as a cultural holiday, not a religious holiday, because he wanted all Africans across all faiths to be able to celebrate the holiday.

*To learn more about this cultural holiday, visit the official Kwanzaa website.

General Practices: During the holiday, families and communities organize activities around the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles): Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and lmani (Faith). Participants also celebrate with feasts (karamu), music, dance, poetry, narratives and end the holiday with a day dedicated to reflection and recommitment to The Seven Principles and other central cultural values. (*Information from the official Kwanzaa website.)

Date Details: Kwanzaa is celebrated each year from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

Date(s) Observed:

  • December 26, 2024 - January 1, 2025
  • December 26, 2025 - January 1, 2026
  • December 26, 2026 - January 1, 2027

Hanukkah/Chanukah (Jewish)

Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights and lasts for eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish struggle for religious freedom. The history of the holiday involves a historic military victory in which a Jewish sect called the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks. The celebration commemorates a miracle in which a sacred temple flame burned for eight days on only one day’s worth of oil.

Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, commonly called a menorah or hanukkiah. One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the shammash (שַׁמָּשׁ‎, "attendant"). Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shammash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the festival.

Other Hanukkah festivities include singing Hanukkah songs, playing the game of dreidel and eating oil-based foods, such as latkes and sufganiyot, and dairy foods. Since the 1970s, the worldwide Chabad Hasidic movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.

General practices: On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jewish families light an additional candle of the menorah candelabrum until all eight candles are lit. Jews celebrate with food and song, as well as exchanging gifts for eight days.

Date details: Hanukkah begins at sundown on the first day.

Recommended accommodations: Academics and work permitted, not a work holiday. Provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply—potato pancakes, doughnuts or other fried food is customary).

Date(s) observed:

  • December 25, 2024 - January 2, 2025
  • December 14-22, 2025
  • December 4-12, 2026

Yule/Midwinter/Alban Arthan/Winter Solstice (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Yule is a winter festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples that was incorporated into Christmas during the Christianisation of the Germanic peoples. In present times adherents of some new religious movements (such as Modern Germanic paganism) celebrate Yule independently of the Christian festival. 

The longest night of the year followed by the sun’s “rebirth” and lengthening of days. In most traditions, Yule is celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. Some Pagans consider Yule to be the beginning of the new year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

In Druidic traditions, this day is known as Alban Arthan, which means ‘Light of Winter’ in Welsh.  Some also call it Alban Arthuan, or ‘Light of Arthur’, which pays homage to the Welsh legends of King Arthur.  Alban Arthan signifies the time when the archetypal Holly King (who rules from Midsummer to Midwinter) is defeated by the Oak King (who rules from Midwinter to Midsummer) in a great battle.  The Holly King, also seen as a wren bird, signifies the old year and the shortened sun, while the Oak King, also seen as a robin, signifies the new year and growing sun.  Mistletoe is also a symbol of the Winter Solstice, as it was thought that Druids revered the plant as ‘ever green’, which signified continued life over the cold dark winter. 

General practices: Burning the Yule log (which was traditionally part of last year’s Yule tree) is an act of faith and renewal that, indeed, the light, and the warmth will return. Hanging of mistletoe. 

Date(s) observed:

  • December 21, 2024 - January 1, 2025
  • December 21, 2025 - January 1, 2026
  • December 21, 2026 - January 1, 2027