Festivals Calendar

Our festivals calendar is provided by the Shap Working Party.  For a printed copy of this material, please visit their Calendar Page where access to the full text of the Shap Calendar Booklet can be purchased and downloaded, as can the Shap Calendar Wallchart, three PDFs and twelve Festival Photos. Content on external websites is not the responsibility of RE:ONLINE or Shap.

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January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
1st January
THE CIRCUMCISION OR NAMING OF JESUS

Christian

 

This day celebrates the circumcision or naming of Jesus at eight days old in accordance with Jewish custom, as recorded in Luke 2:21.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus

Godward Archives: The Man who circumcised Jesus

Thinking Anglicans

Circumstitions

Orthodox wiki Circumcision of our Lord

 

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1st January
GANJITSU

Japanese

 

New Year’s Day celebrations in Japan are sometimes extended for up to three days, during which businesses are closed, families spend time together, decorations are put up and the first visit of the year is paid to local Shinto shrines.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps – Ganjitsu

Festive Search: Ganjitsu – Japanese New Year

Japanese New Year has arrived -its Ganjitsu

Japanese New Year is a National Holiday

Japanese New Year in Images

 

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1st January
NEW YEAR’S DAY / HOGMANAY

National

 

A day widely observed throughout the UK, as is New Year’s Eve the preceding night, and  especially in Scotland, where bagpipes, haggis and first footing are widespread. It is customary to make New Year’s Resolutions at this time.

 

More Information:

 

Rampant Scotland – Hogmanay

BBC News: Hogmanay celebrations: Scotland brings in the new year

British Food and Drink: Hogmanay

Hogmanay-top-facts

History of New-years

 

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3rd January
THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S BIRTHDAY / MILAD UN NABI (12th Rabi’ul-Awwal)

Muslim  (Sunni)

 

Observed by Sunni Muslims on 12th Rabi’ Al-Awwal, and by the majority of Shi‘a Muslims five days later on 17th Rabi’ Al-Awwal (though Nizari Ismaili Shi‘a Muslims who are followers of the Aga Khan celebrate this on the same date as Sunnis, whereas Dawoodi Bohra Ismailis celebrate at the same time as other Shiʽa). The day is widely celebrated within the Muslim world and is a public holiday in a number of Muslim countries. In the sub-continent of India and certain Arab countries like Egypt, the celebration starts with reading from the Qur’an, followed by poetry and songs in praise of the Prophet. There are also lectures and story telling. In some big cities of the Muslim world the day is marked with processions and flag waving under a huge decoration of lights. In the UK many Muslims celebrate at the mosque, but some refuse to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday, claiming it is a non-Islamic innovation introduced more than 600 years after the life of the Prophet. Tradition is not clear as to the exact date of the Prophet’s birth.

 

More Information:

 

Maulid un Nabi

Mawlid al Nabi – through festival cards

BBC Milad un Nabi

Islamic Supreme Council – Mawlid un Nabi

Celebrating Mawlid un Nabi – any proof?

 

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5th January
BIRTHDAY OF GURU GOBIND SINGH (1666 CE)

Sikh

 

This is celebrated as the Birth Anniversary of the tenth Guru, who instituted the Five Ks and established the Order of the Khalsa on Vaisakhi (Baisakhi), when he instituted the Five Ks. Like other anniversaries associated with the lives of the Gurus, the day is referred to as a Gurpurb, and is marked by the ending of an akhand path, an unbroken reading of the whole Guru Granth Sahib, which lasts for 48 hours.

 

More Information:

 

Global World: Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh

Sikh Dharma: Guru Gobind Singh’s Birth

Guru Gobind Singh in the world of Guru Nanak

Time and Date Holidays: Guru Govind Singh

Guru Govind Singh in Images

 

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6th January
CHRISTMAS EVE AND DAY

Christian (Eastern Orthodox/ Armenian: Julian calendar);  Rastafarian

 

Many Eastern Orthodox and Armenian churches, and certain others related to them, still use the Julian, rather than the Gregorian (the ‘Old’) Calendar which is currently used by Western Christians. Accordingly they celebrate Christmas and other fixed festivals thirteen days after the Western churches, so that the 6th and 7th of January in the Orthodox calendar equate to the 24th and 25th December in the Western one.

 

More Information:

 

Topmarks – Christmas/Epiphany

A Serbian Christmas Eve and Eastern European Food

Orthodox Christmas Day

Why do Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7th?

The Calendar of the Orthodox Church

 

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6th January
EPIPHANY

Christian

 

This is the twelfth day of Christmas. It celebrates the visit of the magi or wise men to the infant Jesus, bearing symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Some Mediterranean Catholic countries welcome the ‘magic wise men’ who arrive by boat, bearing gifts for children. In the Church calendar the Epiphany season lasts until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Roman Catholics celebrate this day on Sunday, 5 January. Matthew 21:1-12.

 

More Information:

 

Topmarks Education – Epiphany

Time and Date: Epiphany

What is Epiphany ?

BBC Epiphany

Royal Events – Epiphany

 

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6th January
Baptism of Christ

Christian

 

Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist; they recall how at this event the heavens were opened and a voice was heard proclaiming Jesus, while God’s spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. During this event God was manifest as three persons in one – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. ‘Theophany’ means ‘Manifestation of God’. The first miracle of Jesus, performed at Cana in Galilee, is also remembered at this time.

 

More information:

 

Greek Orthodox USA – Epiphany

Time and Date: Epiphany

The Baptism of Jesus

Theopedia – The Baptism of Jesus

Where was Jesus Baptised?

 

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8th January
THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S BIRTHDAY / MILAD UN NABI (17th Rabi’ul-Awwal)

Muslim  (Shi‘a)

 

Observed by Sunni Muslims on 12th Rabi’ Al-Awwal, and by the majority of Shi‘a Muslims five days later on 17th Rabi’ Al-Awwal (though Nizari Ismaili Shi‘a Muslims who are followers of the Aga Khan celebrate this on the same date as Sunnis, whereas Dawoodi Bohra Ismailis celebrate at the same time as other Shiʽa). The day is widely celebrated within the Muslim world and is a public holiday in a number of Muslim countries. In the sub-continent of India and certain Arab countries like Egypt, the celebration starts with reading from the Qur’an, followed by poetry and songs in praise of the Prophet. There are also lectures and story telling. In some big cities of the Muslim world the day is marked with processions and flag waving under a huge decoration of lights. In the UK many Muslims celebrate at the mosque, but some refuse to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday, claiming it is a non-Islamic innovation introduced more than 600 years after the life of the Prophet. Tradition is not clear as to the exact date of the Prophet’s birth.

 

More Information:

 

Maulid un Nabi

Mawlid al Nabi – through festival cards

BBC Milad un Nabi

Islamic Supreme Council – Mawlid un Nabi

Celebrating Mawlid un Nabi – any proof?

 

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12th January
BIRTHDAY OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

Hindu

 

Born Narendra Nath Datta in 1902 in Calcutta, he was an Indian Hindu monk who became the chief disciple of the 19th century saint Ramakrishna. Vivekananda, as he became known, was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and helped to develop Hinduism during the latter part of the 19th century to the stage where it held the status of a major world religion. He pioneered the development of the Ramakrishna Mission and the creation of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre movement first in India and then throughout the world, travelling widely and emphasising the devotional and social aspects of the teaching and practice of his beloved Guru, Ramakrishna.

 

More information:

 

Vedanta Centre UK

Vedanta philosophy

Vivekananda and the Vedanta Network

Swami Vivekananda: Life and Teachings

50 Inspiring and Motivational Quotes from Swami Vivekananda

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14th January
MAKAR SANKRANTI / LOHRI / PONGAL

Hindu

 

Sankranti (Sangrand in Punjabi) is the start of a new zodiac sign i.e. the date is based on the solar rather than the lunar calendar. Tamils celebrate Pongal and eat a rice dish which gives the festival its name. For many Hindus it is a day for almsgiving and patching up quarrels and disagreements. Punjabis (including some Sikhs) celebrate the day as Lohri. Fires are lit outside and peanuts and sesame sweets are eaten round them. The traditional Punjabi meal consists of cornmeal chapatis and a mustard leaf dish. If a baby boy has been born during the previous year he is carried around the fire.

 

More Information:

 

SCFI – Lohri

About Hinduism: Festivals/Lohri

Festivals of India: Makar Sankranti

Hindu Festivals – Sankranti

Greetings Cards – Makar Sankranti

 

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16th January
SHINRAN MEMORIAL DAY

Buddhist

 

Shinran Shonin (1173-1262) was the founder of Jodo Shin-shu (or Shin Buddhism), one of the schools of Pure Land Buddhism. It is celebrated by some Mahayana Buddhists.

 

More Information:

 

Shinran Shonin – Buddhist Reformer

Shinran Shonin – Official Jodo Shinshu site

Celebrating Shinran’s Non-discriminating Universal Faith

Notes on the wasan of Shinran

Shinran – a peaceful Buddhist thinker – by George Gatenby

 

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18th January
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

Christian

 

18-25 January

 

This week was first set aside in 1908. The theme for 2015 is: ‘Give me to drink’, and the resource materials have been prepared by CONIC, the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil. Each year the growing commitment to ecumenism has increased the impact and the impetus of the week: special services are held, and dialogue on unity is encouraged; some worshippers attend united services, while others may visit each other’s churches or invite preachers from denominations different from their own. The Week runs from the Confession of Peter (Jan 18) to the Conversion of Paul (Jan 25).

 

More Information:

 

CTBI: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

World Council of Churches – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Canadian Council of Churches – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Praying for Christian Unity

A Selection of Thematic Music for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

 

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18th January
WORLD RELIGION DAY

Baha’i and other faiths

 

This day promotes interfaith understanding by emphasizing factors common to all faiths. It was first introduced among Baha’i communities in the 1950s, and is now celebrated by a wider spread of communities, including the Baha’i, on the third Sunday of January.

 

More Information:

 

Baha’i – World Religion Day

Huffington Post – Baha’i World Religion Day

Holiday Lessons for Children for World Religion Day

True Tube videos of multifaith issues

Images for World Religions Day

 

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19th January
THEOPHANY / BAPTISM OF CHRIST

Christian (Eastern Orthodox)

 

At Theophany Orthodox Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist; they recall how at this event the heavens were opened and a voice was heard proclaiming Jesus, while God’s spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. During this event God was manifest as three persons in one – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. ‘Theophany’ means ‘Manifestation of God’. The first miracle of Jesus, performed at Cana in Galilee, is also remembered at this time.

 

More information at …

 

Theophany in the Orthodox Church

Orthodox Christians celebrate the Epiphany in cold water

Orthodox Epiphany in the River Jordan

The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan

Coptic celebration of Theophany

 

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24th January
SARASWATI PUJA/ VASANT PANCHAMI

Hindu

 

This festival marks the beginning of Spring, and is widely celebrated in north India. In eastern India, and notably in Bengal, Hindus worship especially Saraswati, the goddess of learning and the arts. Yellow is particularly associated with the festival and so murtis of Saraswati are dressed in yellow. Another (secular) tradition is kite-flying, associated especially with the city of Lahore.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps – Vasant Panchami

Saraswati Puja in pictures

About Hinduism – Saraswati Puja

Vasant Panchami – Saraswati Puja

Huffington Post – Saraswati Puja

 

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25th January
HONEN MEMORIAL DAY

Buddhist

 

Honen (1133-1212 CE) is one of the outstanding figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism, and was the founder of Jodo Shinshu, one of the schools of Pure Land Buddhism.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps – Honen Memorial Day

Kyoto National Museum: The Illustrated Biography of Priest Honen

New World Encyclopedia entry for Honen

Honen and the Chion-in

An Introduction to the Pure Land Teaching of Honen

 

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27th January
HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

National

 

This is a remembrance day for all the different categories of people who suffered at the hands of the Nazis during the second World War (1939-45). It aims to keep fresh in the mind the memory of all those who suffered and died at that period, and to help ensure that no such atrocity happens again. The date was chosen as the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

 

More Information:

 

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust – Information and Resources

Huffington Post: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Guardian: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Memorial Celebration in the City of Birmingham

Stonewall and a history of persecution in the Holocaust

CCJ Readings for Holocaust Memorial Day

 

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30th January
JASHN-E SADEH

Zoroastrian – Iranian

 

Jashn-e Sadeh is a mid winter festival, celebrated 50 days and nights before the advent of the spring NoRuz, and signifies that the days are getting longer. On this day it is customary to pay visits to the Fire Temple to give thanks to the Creator God, to celebrate with a bonfire after sunset, to recite the Atash Niyayeesh or litany to fire, listen to stories of the legendary Iranians during the reign of King Hoshang, who discovered the art of making fire, share piping hot stew and bread, and enjoy the dancing and merry making.

 

More Information:

 

Farsi: Jashn-e Sadeh – Festival of Fire

Farsinet: Jashn-e Sadeh

Irpedia: Jashn-e Sadeh, the festival of fire

Iran Online – The Festival of Jashn-e-Sadeh

Celebration of Jashn-e-Sadeh in Iran

 

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1st February
IMBOLC/CANDLEMAS

Pagan

 

Imbolc, also called Oimelc and Candlemas, celebrates the awakening of the land and the growing power of the Sun. Snowdrops, which appear at this time of the year, are seen as the heralds of spring.

 

More Information:

 

Chalice Centre – Imbolc

History of Imbolc

Celtic Lore for Imbolc

The wheel of the year – Imbolc – the White Goddess

Pagan Calendar

 

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2nd February
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE / CANDLEMAS

Christian (Anglican)

 

This is often called Candlemas from the custom of congregations holding lighted candles during the celebration in church. It records the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and his recognition by the aged Simeon, expressed in the words of the Nunc Dimittis. The festival was formerly known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary – reflecting Mary’s following of Jewish tradition after the birth of a son.

Luke 2:22-38.

 

More Information:

 

Woodlands Junior School: Candlemas Day

Presentation of the Lord in the Temple in pictures

Candelmas – The Presentation of the Lord – the Church Year

http://projectbritain.com/year/candlemas.html

http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/feb/2.htm

 

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2nd February
THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD

Christian (Roman Catholic)

 

This is often called Candlemas from the custom of congregations holding lighted candles during the celebration in church.  It records the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and his recognition by the aged Simeon, expressed in the words of the Nunc Dimittis. The festival was formerly known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary – reflecting Mary’s following of Jewish tradition after the birth of a son.

Luke 2:22-38.

 

More Information:

 

Woodlands Junior School: Candlemas Day

Presentation of the Lord in the Temple in pictures

Candelmas – The Presentation of the Lord – the Church Year

http://projectbritain.com/year/candlemas.html

http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/feb/2.htm

 

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3rd February
SETSUBUN/BEAN SCATTERING

Japanese

 

The day for the Bean Scattering ceremony, performed both in homes and in temples.

 

More Information:

 

Setsubun in pictures

Setsubun for Kids

Kyoto Visitors’ Guide – Setsubun

How to throw beans at Setsubun

 

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4th February
BASANT

Punjabi

 

Widely celebrated in North India, this festival marks the beginning of spring.  For Hindus it is usually linked with Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, learning and the arts.  Yellow is a predominant colour in the celebrations to indicate the onset of spring and because of its associations with Saraswati.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps – Vasant Panchami

Mythic Maps – Vasant Panchami

Saraswati Puja in pictures

About Hinduism – Saraswati Puja

Vasant Panchami – Saraswati Puja

Huffington Post – Saraswati Puja

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4th February
TU B ‘SHEVAT

Jewish

 

A popular minor festival which celebrates the New Year for trees. Jewish tradition marks the 15th of Shevat as the day when the sap in the trees begins to rise, heralding the beginning of spring. It is customary for Jews all over the world to plant young trees at this time and to eat fruit produced in Israel. For religious accounting purposes all trees have their anniversaries on this festival, regardless of when they were planted.

 

More information at …

 

Chabad – Tu B’Shevat

Aish – Tu Bshvat – New Year for Trees

Jewfaq – Holidays – Tu B’Shevat

Hillel – Tu B’Shevat – New Year for Trees

My Jewish Learning -Tu B’ishvat

 

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14th February
LANTERN FESTIVAL / YUANXIAOJIE / TENG CHIEH

Chinese

 

This is the Lantern Festival which marks the first full moon of the year and the lengthening of the days.  Strings of lanterns in various designs are hung out as decoration.

 

More Information:

 

China English Features – Festivals

Project Britain: Teng Chieh

Travel China Guide – Lantern Festival

Chinese Fortune Calendar – Lantern Festival

Chinese New Year and Food for the Lantern Festival

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15th February
PARINIRVANA

Buddhist

 

Mahayanists mark the final passing away from this world of Gautama Buddha at Kushinagara, India, at the age of 80. Pure Land Buddhists refer to it as Nirvana Day.

 

More Information:

 

BuddhaNet: Kusinara – Place of the Great Passing

About Buddhism – The Parinirvana of the Historical Buddha

Images of the Parinirvana of the Buddha

Nirvana-Parinirvana-Enlightenment-Buddhahood

MahaParinirvana and the Parinirvana of the Buddha

 

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17th February
MAHASHIVRATRI (Great Shiva Night)

Hindu

 

Every night of the new moon is dedicated to Shiva, but this one is particularly important. It is the night on which Shiva is said to perform the cosmic dance, leading from creation to destruction. Many Hindus fast at this time. All-night prayers focus on Shiva and his shrines and statues. Milk is poured on his symbol, the lingam.

 

More Information:

 

BBC Religions – Hinduism: Mahashivratri

I Love India – Mahashivratri

Times of India – Mahashivratri

About Hinduism – Mahashivratri

Images of Mahashivratri

 

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17th February
SHROVE TUESDAY (Pancake Day)

Christian (Western Churches)

 

Commonly known as Pancake Day, this is the day before the start of Lent. Traditionally it is a day for repentance and absolution in preparation for Lent (‘shrive’ means to receive or make confession). Pancakes were originally made to use up all the rich foods, such as butter and eggs, before Lent. In some parts of the world people celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) by holding carnivals.

 

More Information:

 

Woodlands Junior School: Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)

Topmarks: Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday – a day for being shriven

BBC Good Food – Pancake Day Recipes

Time Out: Pancake Day in London

 

 

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18th February
LENT

Christian (Western Churches)

 

A period of forty days (not counting Sundays) that leads up to Easter. It is a time of fasting and discipline in preparation for Easter. Traditionally Christians give up something during this time to mark the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, which end on Easter day. Many Christians still do this, but for some the emphasis is now more on following a simpler lifestyle throughout the year. Those who give something up save the cost of these items, perhaps in a box, for Church funds or for a charity. Many Christians feel it is a time for study groups, prayer and Bible reading.

Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22.

 

More Information:

 

About Christianity: Lent

Project Britain – Lent

Ken Collins on The Season of Lent

Frequently Asked Questions about Lent

The True Meaning of Lent – the Restored Church of God

 

 

 

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18th February
ASH WEDNESDAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

The first day of Lent when Christians remember the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness and the temptations he faced during this time. In Catholic and some Anglican churches, services are held where the worshipper’s forehead is marked with a cross of ash, which has been made from burning the palm crosses of the previous year – hence the name Ash Wednesday.

Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13

 

More Information:

 

BBC Religions: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday in pictures

Catholic Culture – Ash Wednesday – Dictionary entry

The Lutheran History and Meaning of Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday in the Orthodox Church

 

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19th February
LOSAR

Buddhist

 

Tibetan New Year festival, but it is often celebrated in Nepal as well. Although largely a secular celebration, it also includes the rededication of the country to Buddhism. It especially celebrates the miracles performed by the historical Buddha at Sravasti, the capital city of the kingdom of Kosala.

 

More Information:

 

Worldbridges Tibet: Losar

Buddhist Holidays: Losar

Losar – Tibetan New Year

China Highlights: Tibetan New Year – Losar

Myths of Losar

 

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19th February
CHINESE NEW YEAR / SPRING FESTIVAL / CHUNJIE / YUAN TAN

Chinese

 

New Year’s Day is the most important event in the traditional Chinese calendar and marks the beginning of the first lunar month. The festival is colourfully celebrated with fireworks, dances (such as the famous Lion Dance) and the giving of gifts, flowers and sweets. Gold is a dominant colour to symbolise the wish for prosperity, and red is also much used as a lucky colour. Business accounts should be settled and all debts paid before the New Year begins. Celebrations can last three or more days. 2015 is the year of the Goat.

 

More Information:

 

Public Holidays – Chinese New Year

Information for Teachers on the Chinese New Year

A Charming New Year

Lots to Learn about the Chinese New Year

The History of the Chinese Calendar and the Chinese New Year

 

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23rd February
FIRST DAY OF LENT / THE GREAT FAST

Christian (Orthodox)

 

This is the beginning of the Lenten Fast, which involves abstinence from meat, fish and dairy products until Easter.

 

Unlike the Western tradition, where Lent begins on the Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent, Eastern Churches start Lent on the Monday before the first Sunday. In addition, since Lent is calculated in relation to Easter, it follows that when the Orthodox date for Easter differs from that of the Western Churches, as here, the whole Lenten period will similarly differ.

 

More Information:

 

Antiochian – Fasting: Great Lent

The Fasting Rule of the Orthodox Church

The Great Lent – a Week by Week Meaning

About Greek Food – Great Lent Food and Traditions

The Great Fast or Holy Lent

 

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1st March
ST DAVID’S DAY

National

 

Anniversary of the death of St David, the patron saint of Wales, who lived in the 6th century CE.  As monk, abbot and bishop he helped to spread Christianity among the Celtic tribes of western Britain.

 

More Information:

 

Museum Wales – St David’s Day

Saint David and Saint David’s Day

Time and Date – St David’s Day

Woodlands Junior School – St David’s Day

St David’s Cathedral

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3rd March
HINAMATSURI / DOLLS’ FESTIVAL / GIRLS’ DAY

Japanese

 

On this day clay dolls representing the Emperor and Empress, reminiscent of the ancient Heian court, are displayed in the home; and offerings of peach blossom, rice-wine and rice-cakes are placed before them, together with miniature multi-coloured sweetmeats. The dolls are intended to carry away any illness which is afflicting or threatening the daughters of the house, and the day is widely celebrated by praying for daughters to grow up to be healthy and dutiful.

 

More Information:

 

Japanese About – Hinamatsuri

web-japan: Hinamatsuri

Hinamatsure – Girl’s Day

All about Japanese Hina Dolls

People and Places – The Doll Festival

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7th March
THE WOMEN’S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER

Christian

 

This international, interdenominational prayer movement was begun in 1887. The service material is produced by a different country each year. In 2013 the theme will be “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” and the material has been prepared by Christian women from France.

 

More Information:

 

Women’s World Day of Prayer in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

History of the Women’s World Day of Prayer

World Day of Prayer: Scotland – Informed Prayer – Prayerful Action

Churches Together in England – Making Connections – Women’s World Day of Prayer

Adventist Churches: International Women’s Day of Prayer

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11th March
FRAVARDIGAN / MUKTAD

Zoroastrian

 

11 – 20 March (Iranian)

8 – 17 August (Shenshai, Parsi)

 

The Fravardigan festival (the festival of the fravashis), popularly known as Muktad (All Souls), commences ten days before NoRuz and is the last festival of the old year. The Zoroastrian day commences at sunrise and not midnight, and so during sunrise on the first day of the festival the immortal souls, together with their fravashis (the guardian spirits of departed ancestors, artistically depicted as half man/half bird), are welcomed by name by the Zoroastrian Mobeds or Magi (priests).

 

For ten days they reside in the place of worship, hovering around a table full of metal vases, each specifically earmarked for an individual family and containing white flowers. They leave the physical world after the last ceremony, held on the tenth evening, but before the dawn of NoRuz. The designated priest – as a farewell gesture – will then empty the water from one of the metal vases, which he will also turn upside down, signifying that it is time for the immortal souls and the fravashis to return to the spiritual world.

 

Theologically Fravardigan is the most important Zoroastrian festival after NoRuz, but, since it deals with one’s departed ancestors, many Zoroastrians regard it to be their holiest festival. During these ten days Zoroastrians often take time off from work, pray extensively, recite the five Gathas (hymns composed by Zarathushtra) and ensure their houses are thoroughly cleaned. They prepare daily samples of sacred food enjoyed by their departed ancestors while still alive, and take these to the place of worship, to be tasted by them during the daily ceremonies. This ritually consecrated food, along with chosen fruits, is then shared by the living in the special Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar, a communal feast celebrated after the ceremony is over.

 

More Information:

 

Faiths Forum – Fravardigan/Muktad

Ahuramazda: Zoroastrian Festivals

Zarthustra’s Essential Teachings

Zoroastrian Calendar

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14th March
MAGHA PUJA

Buddhist

 

This commemorates the occasion when 1,250 enlightened personal disciples of the Buddha came spontaneously to the Bamboo Grove on the full moon of Magha (usually February). The Buddha predicted his death and recited a summary of his teachings and a code of discipline (which monks are expected to recite every fortnight). The day is observed with meditation, chanting and listening to sermons.

 

More Information:

 

Buddhamind: Festivals – Magha Puja

Buddhanet: Festivals/Purim

Chiang Mai University – Magha Puja Day

The Day of Four Marvellous Events

 Dhammakaya – Magha Puja Day

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16th March
PURIM

Jewish

 

This festival celebrates the saving of the Jewish community of Persia, which is retold in the Book of Esther (the Megillah). The whole book/scroll is read twice in the synagogue, once on the eve of Purim and also on Purim itself. Colourful costumes and masks are often worn amid lots of noise as the name of Haman (the villain of the story) is drowned out by the congregation with rattles and hooters and boos whenever it is read. Many people come in fancy dress. Hamantashen (cakes filled with poppy seeds, literally ‘Haman’s pockets’) are made and eaten at this time.

 

More Information:

 

Virtual Jerusalem: Purim

Union for Reform Judaism: Purim

Aish – Purim

My Jewish Learning – Purim

Jewish Virtual Library – Purim

Jewish Way of Life (Click on What We Do/ Time/ Festivals)

 

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17th March
HOLA MAHALLA/HOLA MOHALLA

Sikh

17th/18th March

In 1680 Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, introduced this festival at Anandpur in Punjab, India, as an alternative to the Hindu festival of Holi. It includes competitive displays of swordsmanship, horsemanship, archery and wrestling, together with displays of weapons and symposia of poetry.  It is a colourful occasion, particularly for young Sikhs.  It takes place on the day after Holi, though in some cases the celebrations coincide.

 

More Information:

 

Hola Mohalla

Sikhiwiki: Hola Mohalla

All about Sikhs: Holla Mohalla

A Short Summary of the Significance of Holla Mohalla

Sandhira: Hola Mohalla

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17th March
HOLI

Hindu

 

17-18 March

 

A spring festival lasting one to five days. Bonfires are lit and coloured powders and dyes are thrown over people.  Various stories are associated with the festival:  the throwing of coloured dyes is linked with Krishna and his antics with the gopis (milkmaids);  another story associated with Holi is that of Prahlada and Holika: Prahlada worshipped Vishnu in defiance of his father, King Hiranyakashipu’s wishes.  Prahlada survived when his aunt, Holika, who was supposedly immune to fire, held him while she sat on a bonfire intended to kill him.

 

More Information:

 

Hinduism About – Holi – Festival of Colours

India Express – Holi

The Festival of Holi

About Hinduism: Holi – Festival of Colours

Colours of India – Holi

India Express – Holi

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17th March
ST PATRICK’S DAY

National

 

This is a day celebrated in honour of the patron saint of Ireland, who lived in Britain in the 4th century CE. After his escape from being held hostage in Ireland, he became a priest and returned there to evangelise. His symbol is the shamrock, sprigs of which are worn on this day. Parades are held in Dublin and elsewhere, often of a secular nature.

 

More Information:

 

BBC Religions – Christianity: Saint Patrick

History of Saint Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day

Spoonful – St Patrick’s Day

Welcome to the Quote Garden -  Quotations for Saint Patrick’s Day

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18th March
HIGAN

Japanese

 

18th – 24th March

 

This is a Buddhist holiday exclusively celebrated in Japan during both the spring and autumnal equinox.

 

More Information:

 

Alien Times – Shunbun No Hi

Shunbun No Hi

Wander Tokyo: Shunbun no Hi, the Japanese Vernal Equinox Holiday

12 Days of Japanese Festivities – Day 2: Shunbun no Hi

Vernal Equinox Day: Shunbun-no-hi

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19th March
ST JOSEPH’S DAY, HUSBAND OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Christian

 

In some churches a feast day is held in honour of Joseph, who, together with Mary, was responsible for Jesus’ upbringing.

 

More Information:

 

Fisheaters: Feast of St. Joseph

St Joseph’s Medals

Calendar Updates – St Joseph’s Day

St Joseph’s Day in New Orleans

St Joseph’sTable – An Age-Old Tradition

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20th March
SPRING/ VERNAL EQUINOX

Spring Equinox (Ostara) Pagan

Vernal Equinox (Alban Eiler or Alban Eilir) Druid

 

Now night and day stand equal. The Sun grows in power and the land begins to bloom. By the Spring Equinox, the powers of the gathering year are equal to the darkness of winter and death. The God (the Green Man) awakens during this season. Some dedicate this time to Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of fertility.

 

More Information:

 

Pagan Wiccan – The Spring Equinox /Ostara

The Spring Equinox

Time and Date – March Equinox

Pagan Wiccan: Spring Equinox Celebrations Around the World

School of the Seasons – Celebrating Spring Equinox

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20th March
SHUNBUN NO HI

Japanese

 

This is the day of the Spring equinox. As at the autumn equinox, harmony and balance are the themes, sutras are recited, and the graves of relatives are visited.

 

More Information:

 

Alien Times – Shunbun No Hi

Shunbun No Hi

Wander Tokyo: Shunbun no Hi, the Japanese Vernal Equinox Holiday

12 Days of Japanese Festivities – Day 2: Shunbun no Hi

Vernal Equinox Day: Shunbun-no-hi

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21st March
NAW-RUZ

Baha’i

 

Naw-Ruz is the Baha’i New Year’s Day and coincides with the spring equinox.  It is an ancient Persian festival celebrating the ‘New Day’ and it marks the end of the annual  nineteen day fast that concludes the old year. Celebrations start at sunset on March 20 often with gatherings for prayer and a festive meal.

 

More Information:

 

Baha’i Library: Naw-Ruz: The Baha’i New Year

Baha’i – Naw-Ruz

Naw-Ruz – The Baha’i and Zoroastrian New Year

Baha’i Prayers: Naw-Ruz

Naw Ruz – Spiritual Springtime

Baha’i – Naw-Ruz

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21st March
JAMSHEEDI NORUZ

Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

The Zoroastrian NoRuz (New Year’s Day) is celebrated on the  the first day of spring, and is the most important festival in the Zoroastrian year. Tradition claims it was founded by Prophet Zarathushtra himself, when, it is believed, the prophet received his first revelation from the Creator God, Ahura Mazda. It is popularly known as Jamsheedi NoRuz, since the pre Zoroastrian King Jamsheed assisted the Creator God, Ahura Mazda, by building an underground dwelling (similar to Noah’s Ark).  This saved the creation from being utterly destroyed during the prolonged, bitter, snowy winter brought about by the evil spirit (Angra Mainyu).

 

NoRuz represents the resurgence of life and the symbolic victory of the forces of light over darkness. Prior to NoRuz the family springcleans the whole house, and preparations are made to grow green herbs and paint boiled eggs for the haftsheen table, which contains items associated with the seven attributes of Ahura Mazda – these are known as the Amesha Spentas. It is customary to wear new clothes and offer gifts, visit the Fire Temple to seek blessing from Ahura Mazda, and participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony, followed by eating, drinking, dancing and making merry.

 

No Ruz is deeply embedded in Iranian culture, and is still celebrated as the New Year in Islamic Iran, although without any religious connotations.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Jamshedi Noruz

Global World: Jamshedi Noruz

Zoroastrian Heritage – Nowruz

Huffington Post: Happy Nowruz – How We Celebrate the Persian New Year

No-Rooz, The Iranian New Year at Present Times

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25th March
AVA MAH PARAB (ABAN JASHAN)

Zoroastrian (Shenshai – Parsi)

 

Ava is short for the divinity Aredvi Sura Anahita, the guardian protector of the waters, who is associated with fertility. On the day of Ava, the 10th day of the month of Ava, the 8th month, Zoroastrians celebrate the birthday of the waters by going to the seas, rivers and streams and reciting the Aredvi Sura Niyayeesh or ‘Litany to the Waters’. They offer thanks to the great purifier who nourishes the world and offer to the waters flowers, sugar, coconuts and specially prepared flat cakes made with sweet lentils.

 

More Information:

 

Frashogard: Ava Mah Para – The Wondrous Power of Water

Water – A Sacred Creation in Zarathustrian Faith

Hindu Website – Ava Mah Parab

Wikipedia: Aban Jashan

AllSands: Zoroastrianism Religion

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25th March
THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD / LADY DAY

Christian/National 

 

Lady Day celebrates the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she is to bear a child, and Mary’s response in the Magnificat.   The day provides an opportunity to focus on the doctrine of the incarnation.  Luke 1:26-38, 46-55.

 

Roman Catholic Christians will celebrate this festival on 8 April in 2013, since 25 March falls in Holy Week.   It is probable that Anglican churches observing this day will also transfer the celebration to another date.

 

Lady Day is also one of the four Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: The Annunciation

Catholic Culture: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

BBC: The Annunciation

Nazareth: the Church of the Annunciation

American Catholic: Annunciation of the Lord

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26th March
KHORDAD SAL

Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

The Birthday of Zarathushtra, one of the most important Zoroastrian festivals. Khordad means perfection and although the actual date of his birth cannot be accurately identified, the festival of Khordad Sal symbolically celebrates the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra and falls on the sixth day following NoRuz.

 

It is customary on this day to visit the Fire Temple to give thanks to Ahura Mazda for giving humanity the Prophet Zarathushtra; to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony; to listen to stories of the miraculous birth and life of Prophet Zarathushtra; and to share in a happy community meal, a drink and a dance.

 

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps – Khordad Sal

The date of Khordad Sal

A History of Khordad Sal

Global World: Birth of Zoroaster – Zoroastrian Khordad Sal

Khordad Sal – The Birthday of Zoroaster

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30th March
MOTHERING SUNDAY (Simnel Sunday)

Christian

 

Mid-Lent Sunday, the 4th Sunday in Lent, has now become secularised and is more popularly known as Mother’s Day. It was, traditionally, a Sunday when Christians revisited their ‘mother church’ and took gifts to their mothers, which often included a simnel cake.

 

More Information:

 

Woodlands Junior School: Mothering Sunday

Anglican History: Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday: UK and US

Time and Date: Mothering Sunday

Ely Anglican: How Mothering Sunday became Mother’s Day

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5th April
FESTIVAL OF PURE BRIGHTNESS/TOMB SWEEPING DAY/QINGMINGJIE/CH’ING MING

Chinese

 

The first occasion in the year when family graves are visited. After cleansing and sweeping the graves, offerings are made to spirits, and many people picnic by the grave to ‘join’ their ancestors in the feast. Families make a special effort to be together and to return to the family graveyard.

 

More Information:

 

China – Festivals – Pure Brightness

China Travel – Pure Brightness Festival

Qingming Festival (Tomb-sweeping Day)

Chinese Culture: Tomb Sweeping Festival

Chinese Poems – Qing Ming and much else

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6th April
PASSION SUNDAY

Christian

 

This is the 5th Sunday in Lent, when Christians begin to concentrate their thoughts on the Passion or suffering of Jesus.

 

More Information:

 

Meditating on the Passion of Jesus

Passion Sunday in pictures

Liturgy: Passion Sunday?

Answers: Passion Sunday – 6th Sunday or 5th Sunday of Lent?

Catholic Activity: Carling or Passion Sunday

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8th April
RAMA NAVAMI

Hindu

 

This is the birthday of Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu. It is celebrated at twelve noon (since Rama was reputedly born at noon) by the ceremony of aarti, usually performed in front of a picture of Rama swinging in a cradle, though sometimes a doll in a real cradle is used instead.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Ramnavami

About Hinduism: Ramnavami – Birthday of Lord Rama

Taj: Festivals – About Ram Navami

Hindupedia: Rama Navami

Sai Baba: Rama-Navami

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8th April
HANAMATSURI

Buddhist (Japanese)

 

This flower festival marks the Japanese celebration of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s birthday, which Mahayana Buddhists fix in 565 BCE. The flowers accentuate the tradition that the Buddha was born in a garden, so floral shrines are made and an image of the infant Buddha is set in it and bathed. Pure Land Buddhists also celebrate the Buddha’s birthday at this time. Theravadins celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away, all on the same day, but a little later in the year, at the full moon in May.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Hanamatsuri

Journal of Shin Buddhism: Hanamatsuri

Examiner: Buddhist Celebrations – Hanamatsuri, the Buddha’s Birthday

Vatican Greetings to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh/Hanamatsuri

Salute the Day: Shaka’s Birthday – Hanamatsuri

 

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13th April
VAISAKHI/BAISAKHI

Sikh

 

13/14 April

 

The Sikh New Year Festival

 

In 1699, on Vaisakhi, the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, founded  the Order of the Khalsa. Five men, who later came to be known as the Panj Piare (Five Beloved Ones), were prepared to offer their lives when the Guru asked for volunteers. According to tradition on this day the ‘Five Ks’, the five outward signs of Sikhism, were made obligatory and Sikh men took the name  ‘Singh’ (lion) and women ‘Kaur’ (princess). The Order of the Khalsa was founded and the initiation  ceremony, amrit, was introduced. Many Sikhs choose to be initiated into the Khalsa on this day.

 

More Information:

 

Festivals of India: Baisakhi

The Holiday Spot: Baisakhi

Sikhism Guide: Vaisakhi

Sikh Net: Vaisakhi – Birth of the Khalsa – Sikh Stories of Children

The Huffington Post: Vaisakhi

 

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13th April
PALM SUNDAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week, when Christians remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where later he would be arrested and crucified.  Many churches  commemorate the day by processions, with the congregation carrying symbolic palm leaves folded in the form of a cross, or branches of palm trees.

 

Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-19.

 

More Information:

 

The Parish Church of St James – Palm Sunday

Orthodox Christian Palm Sunday

Catholic Online: Palm Sunday

Share Faith: Palm Sunday

The Trinidad Guardian: The true meaning of Palm Sunday

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13th April
HOLY WEEK

Christian (Western Churches)

 

13-19 April

 

This is the most solemn week of the Christian year, in which Christians recall the events of the final week of the earthly life of Jesus.

 

More Information:

 

Christianity Today: Articles on Holy Week

Orthodox Christian Holy Week

Holy Week in Spain

Holy week in the Catholic Encyclopedia

Belief Net: Christian Holidays during Holy Week

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13th April
MAHAVIRA JAYANTI (599 BCE)

Jain

 

Festival celebrating the birthday of the last Tirthankara, or great teacher and model for the Jainas. The events surrounding his birth are re-enacted. If there are monks or nuns present, they will read from the scriptures and teach about the rest of Mahavira’s life, following which lay people return home to a celebratory feast.

 

More Information:

 

BBC Religion – Jainism: Mahavira

Festivals: Mahavir Jayanti

Times of India – Mahavir Jayanti

India Today: Mahavir Jayanti – Why it is Celebrated

Mahavir Jayanti, the Birthday of Mahavira, and ‘Related Stuff’

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15th April
PASSOVER/PESACH

Jewish

 

15-22 April

 

This major Jewish festival lasts eight days and commemorates the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The highlight is the Seder meal, held in each family’s home at the beginning of the festival, when the story of their deliverance is recounted, as narrated in the Haggadah (the Telling, or the Story). Matzah, (unleavened bread) is eaten throughout the festival, as are other foods that contain no leaven (yeast). There is a major spring cleaning in the home shortly before the festival to ensure that no trace of leaven is left in the house during Pesach. Coconut pyramids and matza balls (which are put in soups) are foods that might be eaten at this time.  Exodus 7-12.

 

NB The first two days (April 15, 16) and the last two days (April 21, 22) are full festival days when, for Orthodox Jews, work is not permitted.

 

More Information:

 

Chabad: Passover

Jewfaq: Pesach: Passover

Jewish Virtual Library: Passover – Pesach – History and Overview

Passover in Pictures

Aish: Passover

Jewish Way of Life (Click on What We Do/ Time/ Festivals)

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15th April
HANUMAN JAYANTI

Hindu

 

Hanuman Jayanti is a Hindu festival which recalls the birth of Lord Rama’s supreme devotee, the monkey-headed Hanuman, whose feats figure in the Ramayana epic.  Hanuman’s birth is celebrated at sunrise on the full-moon day of the lunar month of Chaitra.

 

More Information:

 

Swaminaryan: Hanuman Jayanti

About Hinduism: Lord Hanuman

Rudra Centre: Hanuman Jayanti

The Times of India: Popular Articles About Hanuman Jayanti

Desi Comments: Hanuan Jayanti in Pictures and Comments

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17th April
MAUNDY THURSDAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

Christians remember the Last Supper, at which Jesus blessed bread and wine and commanded his disciples to remember him whenever they did this. From this instruction comes the institution known under a variety of names – the Eucharist, the Mass, the Holy Communion, the Breaking of Bread, the Divine Liturgy.  It has become the central act of worship in most Christian traditions. In Roman Catholic and some Anglican churches the feet of twelve members of the congregation are washed in remembrance of Jesus’ washing the feet of the twelve disciples. The name ‘maundy’ comes from a Latin term ‘mandatum’ (‘commandment’), signifying Jesus’ new commandment to his disciples, as recorded in John 15:17.

Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:14-20.

 

More Information:

 

About Christianity: Maundy Thursday

Fisheaters: Maundy Thursday

Christianity for Dummies: What is Maundy Thursday?

Woodlands Junior School: Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday)

Royal Events andCeremonies: Royal Maundy Service

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18th April
GOOD FRIDAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. Although essentially a sombre day, it is called ‘Good’ since, for Christians, it is the ultimate example of God’s sacrifice when Jesus gave up his life for the world. Meditative services are held in church to mark the time that Jesus spent on the cross. Traditionally, particularly in the Roman Catholic world, fish rather than meat is eaten on Fridays. Hot cross buns, although now found in supermarkets throughout the year, were formerly associated with Good Friday.

 

Matthew 27:32-34, Mark 15:21-32, Luke 23:26-43, John 19:17-27.

 

More Information:

 

Church Year: Good Friday

Jerusalem – The Way of the Cross

Catholic Online: Good Friday

Project Britain: Good Friday (Holy Friday)

Goarch: Great and Holy Friday

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19th April
HOLY SATURDAY (Easter Eve)

Christian (Western Churches)

 

This is the last day of Lent. Special services involving the lighting of the Paschal Candle and the renewal of baptismal vows take place in the evening in preparation for Easter.

 

More Information:

 

BBC: Holy Week and Holy Saturday

Fisheaters: Holy Saturday

About Catholicism: Holy Saturday

Women for Faith and Family: Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil

The Voice: The Days of Holy Week

 

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20th April
EASTER DAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

Easter Day is the most important festival of the Christian year, since this is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Many Easter traditions, such as the giving of Easter eggs, symbolise the gift of new life.

 

Matthew 28:1-11, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-10.

 

More Information:

 

Time and Date: Easter Sunday

Calendar Updates: Easter

Woodlands Junior School: Easter Sunday (Easter Day)

Fisheaters: Easter Sunday

BBC Plans for an Easter Spectacle in South Shields – for the non-religious

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20th April
PASCHA/EASTER

Christian (Orthodox)

 

Easter is calculated on a lunar calendar, and thus moves each year in relation to the solar calendar. Orthodox and Western churches calculate differently when the necessary intercalary adjustments should be made; consequently there is no consistent relationship between the dates of Orthodox and Western timings of Easter.

 

Easter Day is the most important festival of the Christian year, as it is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. A vigil is kept during the preceding night and the resurrection of Christ greeted with the lighting of candles and the affirmation ‘Christ is risen’.  Customs include colouring and decorating hard boiled eggs as symbols of new life – cracking them symbolises the opening of Christ’s tomb. All Orthodox Christian communities celebrate Easter and the associated cycle of festivals at the same time.

 

Matthew 28:1-11, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-10.

 

More Information:

 

Othodox Wiki: Pascha

Goarch: The Great and Holy Feast of Pascha

Orthodox Research Institute: It is Pascha not Easter!

Pascha polyglotta: Χριστóς α̉νέστη -Christ is Risen – in 250 Languages

Feast of Feasts: An Orthodox Christian Celebration of Holy Pascha 

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21st April
RIDVAN

Baha’i

 

21 April-2 May

 

The most important Baha’i festival. It was in these 12 days that Baha’u’llah declared himself as the Promised One prophesied by the Bab. The festival is named after the garden outside Baghdad in which he was staying. The first, ninth and twelfth days are especially significant and are celebrated as holy days, when no work is done. (This is also true of  other Baha’i dates listed in the Shap Calendar.) It is during this period that Baha’is elect their local, national and international governing bodies.

 

More Information:

 

Baha’i Faith – In a garden of Paradise, the Baha’i Faith takes root

Baha’i Library: Ridvan

BBC Religions: Ridvan – History and Significance

Planet Baha’i: Baha’u'llah’s Declaration of his Mission at Ridvan

About Alternative Religions: Ridvan

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23rd April
ST GEORGE’S DAY

National

 

St George is the patron saint of England. His particular significance to England is not clear since he lived and died in the Middle East as a martyr for his Christian faith, but it is possible that his popularity grew after the Crusades, when his red cross on a white background was adopted as the symbol of the English Crusaders.

 

More Information:

 

BBC: The History of St George’s Day

Britannia History: St George

Woodlands Junior School, Kent: The Patron Saint of England – St George

St George’s Day observed in Spain

The English are ‘too nervous’ to celebrate St George’s Day

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23rd April
ADAR MAH PARAB

Zoroastrian (Shenshai – Parsi)

 

On the day of Adar, the 9th day, during the month of Adar, the 9th month, Zoroastrians celebrate the birthday of fire. It is customary for Zoroastrians to go to the fire temple to make offerings of sandalwood or incense at this time, and to thank the holy fire for the warmth and light it has given throughout the year. Traditionally on this day food is not cooked in the house as the fire is given a rest and the Atash Niyayeesh or litany to the fire is recited in honour of the house fire or the ceremonial oil lamp.

 

More Information:

 

Parsikhabar – Celebrating the Atash nu Parab

Zoroastrians net: Atash nu Parabh

Zoroastrian Places of Worship – Atash Bahram – Modern Fire Temples

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28th April
YOM HA-SHOAH (HOLOCAUST DAY)

Jewish

 

A day of remembrance when Jewish people remember the six million Jews, including one and a half million children, who were victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Memorial candles are lit and special services  are held.

 

More Information:

 

Virtual Jerusalem: Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Memorial Day

Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day

Jewish Virtual Library: Yom Ha’Shoah – Holocaust Memorial Day

Reform Judaism: Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day

My Jewish Learning: Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Memorial Day

Knesset gov: The Holocaust – Historical Overview

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1st May
BELTAINE

Wiccan/Pagan/ Druid

 

The wheel of the year continues to turn and spring gives way to summer’s full bloom and the fertility of the land is at its height. Many pagans celebrate Beltaine by lighting fires and leaping over them, and/or with maypole dances, symbolizing the mystery of the Sacred Marriage of Goddess and God.

 

More Information:

 

Chalice Centre: May – Beltaine: The Return of Summer

Spirit of Old – Beltaine

Cultural Heritage of Ireland: The festival of Beltaine and the Beltany Stone Circle

Newgrange: Beltane – The Fire Festival

Pinterest: Beltaine – My Favourite Festival

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6th May
YOM HA’ATZMA’UT

Jewish

 

Israeli Independence Day, commemorating the declaration of independence of Israel in 1948.

 

More Information:

 

My Jewish Learning: Yom Ha’Atzma’ut

Union of Reform Judaism: Yom HaAtzmaut

Jewish Virtual Library: Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israeli Independence Day

Aish: Israel Independence Day

BJ: Yom Ha’zikaron/Yom Ha’atzmaut

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11th May
CHRISTIAN AID WEEK

Christian

 

11–17  May

 

Initiated in 1945, this week is devoted to fund raising by members of various churches, mainly through house to house collections and sales of goods of various kinds. The money given is for work with the needy throughout the world.  Christian Aid works in nearly 60 countries, helping people, regardless of religion or race, to improve their own lives and tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.

 

More Information:

 

Christian Aid

Christian Aid Week

Durham Cathedral: Sermon – Christian Aid Week

You Tube: This is Christian Aid

Life and Work: A Prayer for Christian Aid Week

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13th May
VESAKHA PUJA / WESAK / BUDDHA DAY / BODHI DAY

Buddhist

13/14th May 

On Wesak Theravadin Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya in North India, and the final passing away of Gautama Buddha. Mahayanist Buddhists have separate days for each of these events and on Bodhi Day celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha. They decorate their houses with lanterns and garlands, and their temples are ringed with little oil lamps, consisting of a simple cloth or cotton wick in a small clay vessel of oil. Many Buddhists send ‘Wesak cards’ to their friends. Particular stress is laid on this day on the Buddha’s enlightenment and many lay people come together at monasteries for this, the biggest of the Buddhist festivals.

 

More Information:

 

Peterbrook Primary School: Wesak

BBC: Wesak

You Tube: The Wesak Festival – the full moon of the Buddha

Crystal Links: Wesak

Souled Out: The Significance of Wesak

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18th May
LAG B’OMER

Jewish

 

The Omer is a period of 49 days, lasting from Pesach to Shavuot.  It is a time of sadness, relieved on this, the 33rd day, by a break in the days of mourning.   Lag b’Omer recalls the end of a plague in Roman times, and is often celebrated by out of door, fresh air activities. A large number of weddings take place, since they are not permitted during the other days of the Omer.

 

More Information:

 

Chabad: Lag B’Omer

My Jewish Learning: Lag B’Omer

Jewfaq: The Counting of the Omer

Aish: Counting the Omer

The Shiksa in the Kitchen: What is Lag B’Omer?

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23rd May
ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF THE BAB

Baha’i

 

The Bab heralded the arrival of Baha’ullah and was co-founder of the Baha’i faith. He first declared his mission in Persia in 1844. He inaugurated the Baha’i calendar which is numbered from the year of this declaration.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab

Baha’i Faith: Celebrating the Declaration of the Bab

Baha’i Faith: The Bab, The Gate to the Baha’i Faith

Enable Me to Grow: Observing the Declaration of the Bab

Tacoma Baha’i: The Anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab

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25th May
ZARATOSHT NO DISO

Zoroastrian (Shenshai;  Parsi)

 

Zaratosht no diso is the death anniversary of the Prophet Zarathushtra and is a sorrowful occasion.  Tradition records that this is when he was assassinated at the age of 77. It is customary to visit the Fire Temple, participate in special remembrance prayers (to him and to the Fravashis the guardian spirits of departed ancestors), and ponder upon the Gathas or Hymns of Zarathushtra, which embody his eternal message to humanity.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Zaratosht No Diso

Crystal Links: Zoroaster and Death

Absolute Astronomy: Zoroastrianism

Mashpedia: Zoroastrianism

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27th May
THE PROPHET’S NIGHT JOURNEY AND ASCENT/LAILAT (LAYLAT) UL ISRA WA-L-MIRAJ

Muslim

 

27th Rajab

 

This festival celebrates the journey of the Prophet Muhammad, in the tenth year of his prophethood, from Makkah to Jerusalem, and through the heavens to the presence of God, all in one night.  On this night the Prophet received the command that Muslims should pray five times each day. The rock in Jerusalem from which the Prophet ascended is now contained in the Dome of the Rock. Muslims mark this night by reading the Qur’an and saying additional prayers.

 

Suras 2:144 and 17:1 refer. The full story is in the Hadith, together with the times of prayer.

 

More Information:

 

Essaouira: Lailat al Miraj

BBC Religion – Lailat al Miraj

Sunna Lessons: The Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascension

Message of the Aqalayn: The Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascent to Heaven

Islamicity: Isra and Miraj: The Miraculous Night Journey

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29th May
ASCENSION DAY (40th day after Easter)

Christian (Western Churches)

(The Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrates it on the following Sunday, 1st June.)

 

Ascension Day commemorates the last earthly appearance of the Risen Christ, who, according to Christian belief, ascended into heaven in the presence of many witnesses.  It is one of the four most important dates in the Christian calendar.

 

Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts of the Apostles 1:9-11.

 

More Information:

 

Share Faith: Ascension Day

Time and Date: Ascension Day

Woodlands Junior School: Ascension Day

Bartleby: Quotations for Ascension Day

Amish America: How do Amish Observe Ascension Day?

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29th May
ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASCENSION OF BAHA’U’LLAH

Baha’i

 

This day commemorates the death of Baha’u’llah at Bahji, near Acre, in northern Israel in 1892. His shrine there is the holiest place on earth for Baha’is and is the focus towards which all Baha’is face when praying.

 

More Information:

 

Planet Baha’i: Reflections on the Ascension of Baha’u'llah

Baha’i Reference Library: Ascension of Baha’u'llah

You Tube: Ascension of Baha’u'llah

Bahai Invitation: Anniversary of the Ascension of Baha’u'llah

Bodybuilding: Baha’is commemorate Ascension of Baha’u'llah

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2nd June
DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL / DUANWUJIE / TUAN YANG CHIEH

Chinese

 

Most notable now for the great dragon boat races which take place between slim rowing boats (sometimes 100 feet long) shaped like dragons. People also go down to the rivers to picnic and celebrate on boats. Originally the festival commemorated the suicide by drowning of the poet and statesman Ch’u Yuan in about 279 BCE.

 

More Information:

 

Mofa – Dragon Boat Festival

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Travel China Guide: Dragon Boat Festival

International Dragon Boat Federation: The Dragon Boat – History and Culture

Taipei donates dragon boats to Israel’s Haifa City

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4th June
SHAVUOT / THE FEAST OF WEEKS / PENTECOST

Jewish

 

4-5 June

 

Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, falls seven weeks after Pesach, and celebrates the revelation of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai, and also the early harvest season in Israel. Synagogues are decorated with flowers and dairy foods are traditionally eaten.

 

Exodus 19 & 20, Leviticus 23:15-22, Deuteronomy 16:9-12.

 

More Information:

 

Jewish Facts: Shavuot

About Judaism: Shavuot

Reform Judaism: Shavuot

Aish: Shavuot

Chabad: Shavuot Recipes

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8th June
PENTECOST / WHIT SUNDAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

An important festival in the Christian year, Pentecost is often seen as the ‘birthday’ of the Church, since this is when the disciples of Jesus first proclaimed the Gospel after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is named after the Jewish festival day on which this event happened. The alternative name of Whitsuntide comes from the custom of converts presenting themselves for baptism on this day dressed in white.

 

Acts of the Apostles 2:1-13.

 

More Information:

 

Got Questions?: What is Pentecost Sunday?

Questions and Answers about Pentecost

About Catholicism: Pentecost

Fisheaters: Vigil of the Pentecost and Whitsunday

Patheos: What is Pentecost? Why Does It Matter?

Explore Faith: Questions of Faith and Doubt – Pentecost

 

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8th June
PENTECOST

Christian (Eastern Orthodox Churches)

 

An important festival in the Christian year, Pentecost is often seen as the ‘birthday’ of the Church, since this is when the disciples of Jesus first proclaimed the Gospel after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is named after the Jewish festival day on which this event happened. The alternative name comes from the custom of converts presenting themselves for baptism on this day dressed in white.

 

Acts of the Apostles 2:1-13.

 

More Information:

 

Go Arch: The Feast of Holy Pentecost

Orthodoxy: The Church Year – Pentecost: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Orthodox Wiki: Pentecost

Russian Orthodox Church of Three Saints: Pentecost – The Birthday of the Church

Antiochian Orthodoxy: The Great Feast of Pentecost

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13th June
THE NIGHT OF FORGIVENESS / LAILAT-UL-BARA’AH (14th Sha’ban)

Muslim

BIRTHDAY of 12th IMAM, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi (Shi‘a)

 

On the fourteenth of Sha’ban, the eighth month of the Muslim calendar and two weeks before Ramadan commences, Muslims seek forgiveness for their sins.  Many Muslims believe that it is on this night that a person’s destiny is fixed by Allah for the coming year, and the night is often spent in prayer, asking for forgiveness and God’s guidance. Some Muslims fast during the daytime in preparation for the night.  In certain parts of the world Muslims visit the graves of relatives, and the giving of charity is also traditional. In a number of places the night is marked with firework displays.

 

Lailat-ul-Bara’ah falls on the day that is celebrated by the Ithna Asheri Shi‘a community as being the birthday of the 12th Imam (Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi), and they therefore observe the night in prayer and worship, and then celebrate the birthday during the daytime.

 

More Information:

 

Yahoo! Groups: Lailatul Bara’ah !!

India Forums: Lailat-ul-Bara’h (Night of Forgiveness)

Ummah: Laylat al-Bara’ah or Shab-e-Barat – Night of Salvation

Islamic Board: Lailat al-Bara’ah

IECRC: Concerning the Night of Absolution (Lailat al-Bara’a), its special mercy, grace and merits

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15th June
TRINITY SUNDAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

In the West, Trinity Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost (or Whitsunday).  On Trinity Sunday, Christians reflect on the mystery of God, who is seen as One but is understood in and through God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

(Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate All Saints at this time).

 

Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 1:18; 15:26.

 

More Information:

 

St James Hampton Hill – Trinity Sunday

Church Year: Trinity Sunday

Fisheaters: Trinity Sunday

Questions and Answers about Trinity Sunday

The Painted Prayer Book: Trinity Sunday – Drenched in the Mystery

Got Questions?: Trinity Sunday

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16th June
MARTYRDOM OF GURU ARJAN (1606)

Sikh

 

The fifth Guru was executed on the orders of the Moghul Emperor, Jehangir, for refusing to pay a fine arising from a charge of treason. Guru Arjan made the first compilation of the Sikh Scriptures, called the Adi Granth, and supervised the completion of what is now the Golden Temple in Amritsar. A gurpurb is held on this day which will take the same form as other gurpurbs,  including  an akhand  path, a non-stop cover to cover reading of the Guru Granth Sahib.

 

More Information:

 

Sikhs Org.: The Fifth Master Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606)

Sikhiwiki: Martyrdom of Guru Arjan

SGPC: Guru Arjan Sahib

About Sikhism: Guru Arjun Dev (1563-1606)

Sikh 24: Shaheedi of Guru Arjan Dev Jee

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19th June
DAY OF THANKSGIVING FOR THE INSTITUTION OF HOLY COMMUNION

Christian (Anglican)

 

Also Known as Corpus Christi

 

The Anglican church celebrates this on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, which falls on 26 May this year. This day recalls the act of Jesus in instituting the celebration of Holy Communion.

 

More Information:

 

The Coptic Church – The Eucharist

All Saints Belmont: Sermon of Thanksgiving for the Holy Communion

MHSJB Word Press: Corpus Christi In Germany

Can we provide Holy Communion over the Web?

New Apostolic Church International: Holy Communion

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21st June
MIDSUMMER SOLSTICE

Wiccan/Pagan

 

The summer solstice is the festival of Midsummer, sometimes called Litha. The light of the sun is at the height of its power. It is a time of plenty and celebration.

 

More Information:

 

BBC: Summer Solstice

Black Mountain Druid Order: Alban Heruin – Summer Solstice

Witchvox: Midsummer/Summer Solstice

Pagan Wiccan: All About Litha – The Midsummer Sabbat

National Geographic: Stonehenge Revealed – Why Stones Were a ‘Special Place’

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21st June
SUMMER SOLSTICE

(Alban Heruin or Alban Hefin) Druid

 

The summer solstice is the festival of Midsummer, sometimes called Litha. The light of the sun is at the height of its power. It is a time of plenty and celebration.

 

More Information:

 

BBC: Summer Solstice

Black Mountain Druid Order: Alban Heruin – Summer Solstice

Witchvox: Midsummer/Summer Solstice

Pagan Wiccan: All About Litha – The Midsummer Sabbat

National Geographic: Stonehenge Revealed – Why Stones Were a ‘Special Place’

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21st June
WORLD HUMANIST DAY

Humanism

 

This is a Humanist holiday, celebrated annually around the world but especially in America, on the June solstice. It is seen as a day for spreading awareness of Humanism as a philosophical life stance and as a means for effecting change in the world. It is also seen as a time for Humanists to gather socially and promote the positive values of Humanism.

 

The manner in which World Humanist Day is celebrated varies considerably among local Humanist groups, reflecting the individuality and non-dogmatism of Humanism as a whole. Whilst the event might be a simple gathering, such as a dinner or picnic, with ample time for both socialising and reflection, the method of celebration is left to individual Humanists. Some groups develop intricate social rituals, music, and proceedings which highlight the metaphoric symbolism of the solstice and the light (knowledge) which brings us out of darkness (ignorance).

 

More Information:

 

The Spiritual Naturalist: Happy World Humanist Day!

iHumanism: World Humanism Day

The Spiritual Naturalist: Happy World Humanist Day

Humanist Federation: June 21st – World Humanist Day

The New Humanism: World Humanism – A Path to Perpetual Peace

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22nd June
CORPUS CHRISTI (CORPUS ET SANGUIS CHRISTI)

Christian (Roman Catholic)

 

The festival of Corpus Christi celebrates the institution of the Mass/Eucharist. It falls 60 days after Easter.  In the ancient world it was customary to scatter flowers in the path of important people as a sign of respect and reverence, and this custom was adopted by the Church to honour the Blessed Sacrament as it was carried in procession on this festival day.

 

In some countries, including England & Wales, the festival is celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.

 

More Information:

 

Arundel Cathedral: Corpus Christi

Social Journalist: Corpus Christi is a Western Catholic Feast

New Advent: Feast of Corpus Christi

Holy Family Catholic Church: Feast of Corpus Christi

Santo Rosario: The Sacrament of the Eucharist – A Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

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24th June
MIDSUMMER DAY

National

 

One of the four Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar

 

More Information:

 

Woodlands Junior School, Kent – Midsummer Day

Celebrating the Swedish Way: Midsummer Day

Mysterious Britain: Midsummer’s Day

Flower Fairies: Midsummer

Humour: Midsummer’s Day – June24th

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27th June
RAMADAN

Muslim

 

29 June to 27 July

 

Ramadan is the name of the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar.

 

During Ramadan Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.  The Muslim year is a lunar year, so Ramadan moves forward by ten or eleven days each year. Fasting (sawm) is one of the five pillars of Islam, requiring self-discipline and giving everyone some experience of deprivation. Those who are not able to fast are expected to give charity to compensate for the lost days. While children may be encouraged to fast, the full fast is not compulsory until maturity, but many still attempt to keep some, or even all of it.

 

For Muslims it is the holiest month and one they try to dedicate to spiritual renewal, prayer and intensive devotional reading of the Qur’an. It is the month in which, according to Islamic belief, the Prophet received the first revelation of verses of the Qur’an.   No food or drink may be consumed during the hours of fasting, and those fasting must also abstain from smoking and from sexual relations. Muslims who are travelling or sick and women who are pregnant or nursing a child are excused from fasting but are required to make up the days of missed fasting during the year ahead.

 

After the custom of the Prophet, the fast is traditionally broken each evening by taking dates and water.

 

Surah 2:183-188.

 

More Information:

 

BBC Religions: Islam – Ramadan

Mkidwai Tripod: Facts of Ramadan – Fasting

Islamicity: Welcome to the Ramadan Information Center

Sheffield and South Yorkshire: Ramadan Rules and Regulations

Jannah: Ramadan – Articles, Resources and Activities for Kids

BBC Religions: Islam – Ramadan

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29th June
RATHA YATRA

Hindu

 

‘Chariot journey’. This is observed most notably at Puri in the Indian state of Orissa, where processions of thousands of devotees pull huge waggons (rathas) supporting images of Krishna.  He is known under the name  of ‘Jagannath’, (Lord of the Universe), from which the term ‘juggernaut’ comes  in English. Krishna is attended by his brother and sister.  The festival and others like it are celebrated in Britain with processions through various parts of London on appropriate Sundays.

 

More Information:

 

Calendar Labs: Rath-Yatra

Rath Yatra – the Chariot Festival of Puri

Harekrsna: The Ratha Yatra

Swaminarayan: Rath Yatra

ISKCON UK: Ratha Yatra – Festival of the Chariots

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1st July
JASHN-E TIRGAN (TIR JASHAN)

Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

Jashn-e Tirgan is an ancient quarter year summer festival, celebrated about three months after the spring NoRuz. Tirgan is devoted to the divinity Tir and is associated with the dog-star Sirius and the coming of the rains in Iran and the fertility they bring.

 

On this day it is customary to visit the Fire Temple to give thanks to Ahura Mazda, participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony, listen to stories of how the boundaries of Iran were established in antiquity with its Central Asian neighbour Turan (now Turkmenistan) by an archer shooting an arrow, share a community meal, play with ‘rainbow’ bracelets made of seven coloured silks, splash each other with water, dance and make merry.

 

More Information:

 

Cais SOAS – Celebrations – Jashn-e-Tirgan

Iran Review: Arash the Archer and the Festival of Rain (Jashn-e Tirgan)

Oshihan: Tirgan – Aabreezan (Water Pouring)

Fesival of Arts/Gallery of the Iranian Culture: The Feast of Tirgan

Bintudaddy: Tirgan Iranian Summer Festival (Yeki Bood Yeki Nabood)

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9th July
ANNIVERSARY OF THE MARTYRDOM OF THE BAB

Baha’i

 

This day recalls the death of the Bab, executed by firing squad in Tabriz, Persia, at noon on July 9th in 1850. Baha’is commemorate hisdeath at noon with readings and prayers from the Baha’i Scriptures.   It has become a holy day of rest when Baha’is should refrain from work.

 

More Information:

 

Planet Baha’i: Martyrdom of the Bab

Baha’i Faith: Baha’is commemorate the martyrdom of the Bab, forerunner of Baha’u'llah

Baha’i World News Service: Anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Bab

Susan Gammage: Holy Day Celebration for the Martrydom of the Bab

Baha’i Blog: The Martyrdom of the Bab and Jesus Christ

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11th July
ASALHA PUJA

Buddhist

(11th of July or 30th November)

Dhammacakka day – ‘The turning of the wheel of teaching’. This is aTheravada celebration of the First Proclamation by Gautama to five ascetics in the Deer Park near Benares. In it he taught the Middle Way, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.

 

More Information:

 

Buddhist Festivals – Asalha Puja

Chiang Mai University: Asalha Puja Day

Buddha Mind: Asalha Puja

Asanha Puja or Asarnha Bucha (Day before the Buddhist Lent)

Battaya Mail: Thai Buddhists nationwide perform religious rites on Asalha Puja Day

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21st July
LAILAT-UL-QADR / THE NIGHT OF POWER / HONOUR / DIGNITY

Muslim (Shi‘a)

 

This commemorates the night in 610 CE when the prophet Muhammad received his first visit from the angel Jibril (Gabriel) and his revelation of the Qur’an. Muslims believe that the date of this night is kept secret by God, but that they ‘May seek the Night of Dignity in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan’ (Bukhaari, quoting Aisha, who heard it from the Prophet).   Many Muslims spend the last ten days and nights of Ramadan secluded in the mosque, praying and studying the Qur’an, to ensure they receive the special benefits promised for their prayers and devotions on Lailat-ul-Qadr.

 

For the purpose of communal activities, or for those who can only spend one night in devotions at the mosque, Sunnis  favour the 27th day (beginning  the evening of the 26th)  whilst the Shi‘a favour the 23rd day of Ramadan.   Of this night, the Qur’an states, “Lailat-ul -Qadr is better than a thousand months.” Surah 97:1-5 (see esp.  97:  3).

 

The first revelation:  Surah 2:185.

 

More Information:

 

Islamic Finder – Lailat ul Qadr

Duas: ‘Common’ A’amaal for Laylatul Qadr

Islamic Centre: Lailatul Qadr (Night of Power)

Turn to Islam: 5 things to do on Laylatul Qadr

Al Islam: The Night of Destiny (Lailatul-Qadr)

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23rd July
BIRTHDAY OF HAILE SELASSIE I

Rastafarian

 

This is one of the holiest days of the Rastafarian year. It is celebrated with Nyahbinghi drumming, hymns and prayers.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps – Birthday of  Haile Selassie

Biography of Haile Selassie I

Rasta Ites: Reasoning on His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie the First

Brainy Quotes: Haile Selassie Quotes

Alternative Religions: Rastafari – An Introduction for Beginners

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25th July
LAILAT-UL-QADR / THE NIGHT OF POWER / HONOUR / DIGNITY

Muslim (Sunni)

 

This commemorates the night in 610 CE when the prophet Muhammad received his first visit from the angel Jibril (Gabriel) and his revelation of the Qur’an. Muslims believe that the date of this night is kept secret by God, but that they ‘May seek the Night of Dignity in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan’ (Bukhaari, quoting Aisha, who heard it from the Prophet).   Many Muslims spend the last ten days and nights of Ramadan secluded in the mosque, praying and studying the Qur’an, to ensure they receive the special benefits promised for their prayers and devotions on Lailat-ul-Qadr.

 

For the purpose of communal activities, or for those who can only spend one night in devotions at the mosque, Sunnis  favour the 27th day (beginning  the evening of the 26th)  whilst the Shi‘a favour the 23rd day of Ramadan.   Of this night, the Qur’an states, “Lailat-ul -Qadr is better than a thousand months.” Surah 97:1-5 (see esp.  97:  3).

 

The first revelation:  Surah 2:185.

 

More Information:

 

Islamic Finder – Lailat ul Qadr

Duas: ‘Common’ A’amaal for Laylatul Qadr

Islamic Centre: Lailatul Qadr (Night of Power)

Turn to Islam: 5 things to do on Laylatul Qadr

Al Islam: The Night of Destiny (Lailatul-Qadr)

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29th July
EID-UL-FITR / FEAST OF FAST BREAKING (1st Shawwal)

Muslim

 

Celebrations of this festival may extend over the first three days of the month of  Shawwal, the month following Ramadan, although only the first day’s celebration is religiously sanctioned. It is a time for making gifts to the poor (Zakat-ul-Fitr, the charity of the fast, must be paid before the Eid prayer). Here is a time for new clothes, good food, and presents for children. Families get together and contact friends, especially those who live far away. The community will assemble for Eid prayer and a sermon at the mosque or at a large place which will accommodate the whole community of the town or village. The traditional greeting is ‘Eid Mubarak’ – ‘a happy and blessed Eid’. (There is no reference in the Qur’an but there is in the Hadith, the traditions of the Prophet).

 

More Information:

 

Info Please: Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

The Huffington Post: Articles on Eid Ul Fitr

Duas: Eid Ul Fitr – 1st Shawwl – Eid salat

Islamic City: Eid ul Fitr

Times of India: Eid-ul-Fitr

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31st July
CHOKOR (also CHO KOR DU CHEN)

Buddhist

 

date uncertain

 

This is a Tibetan and Nepalese festival that commemorates the first teaching (the turning of the wheel of law) given by the historical Buddha. It is a colourful and relaxed mid-summer festival, when statues of the Buddha and copies of the scriptures, engraved on narrow, rectangular wooden blocks, are carried round the district with music and jollity, symbolising the promulgation of the Buddha’s teaching. The whole community, clerical and lay, male and female, joins in the processions and the picnics that follow.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Chokor Duchen

Tibet Travel: Festivals – Chokor Duchen

Diamond Way Buddhism UK Blog: Today is Chokhor Duchen, a ‘Ten Million Multiplier’

Khandro: Special Days

Blogspot: Dream of my guru on Chokhor Duchen

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1st August
LAMMAS/LUGHNASADH

Lammas/ Lughnasadh – Wiccan

Lughnasadh – Pagan

 

Lughnasadh, otherwise called Lammas, is the time of the corn harvest, when Pagans reap those things they have sown and when they celebrate the fruits of the mystery of Nature. At Lughnasadh, Pagans give thanks for the bounty of the Goddess as Queen of the Land.

 

More Information:

 

School of the Seasons – Lammas

Pagan/Wiccan: All About Lammas

The White Goddess: Lammas

Wicca: Lughnasadh

Mything Links: Lammas, Lughnasadh

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2nd August
HERD BOY AND WEAVING MAID FESTIVAL / QIXIJIE / CH’I HOU CHIEH

Chinese

 

This Double Seven festival perpetuates an ancient folk tale of two stars, one on either side of the Heavenly River (the Milky Way). They are held to have been a herd boy and a heavenly weaving maid who had married but were separated when she returned to heaven. The lovers are allowed a reunion on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month when a flock of magpies form a bridge across the Heavenly River. But if it rains on that day, the River overflows and sweeps away the bridge, so preventing their meeting for a whole year. Women traditionally pray for clear skies on the night of the seventh day of the month.

 

More Information:

 

Tai Chi Chuan Centre – Weaving Girl

China Travel: Double Seventh Festival – Herd Boy and Weaving Maid

Latrobe Education: Favourite Japanese Folk Tales

World of Tales: Chinese Folk Tales – The Herd Boy and the Weaving Maiden

China Culture: Cowherd and Weaving Girl

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5th August
TISHA B’AV

Jewish

 

This is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar.  A full day fast is held at the conclusion of three weeks of mourning and reflecting on the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem and other tragedies in Jewish history. The Book of Lamentations is read at this time.

 

More Information:

 

Jewfaq: Tisha B’Av

Jewish Virtual Library: Tisha B’Av

Chabad:  Tisha B’Av and the 3 Weeks

My Jewish Learning: Tisha B’Av

Reform Judaism: Tishah B’Av

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6th August
THE TRANSFIGURATION

Christian

 

This festival commemorates the occasion when Jesus went up a mountain with three of his disciples, Peter, James and John;  here, as his death approached, they saw his face change and his clothes become dazzling white. They witnessed him in conversation with Moses and Elijah, and heard a voice saying, ‘This is my own dear Son with whom I am pleased – listen to him’. For many Christians this confirms the divine nature of Jesus.

 

For Orthodox Christians this is an especially important festival, pointing to Christ as both human and divine. Although Moses and Elijah had died centuries before, they could live again in the presence of the Son of God, implying that a similar return to life can apply to all who face death.

 

Matthew 17:1-17, Mark 9:2-13 and Luke 9:28-36.

 

More Information:

 

The Orthodox Church in America – The Transfiguration

The Expository Files: The Transfiguration

About Catholicism: The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ

Bible.org: The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13)

NC Register: 10 things you need to know about Jesus’ Transfiguration

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8th August
FRAVARDIGAN / MUKTAD

Zoroastrian

 

8 – 17 August (Shenshai, Parsi)

11 – 20 March (Iranian)

 

The Fravardigan festival (the festival of the fravashis), popularly known as Muktad (All Souls), commences ten days before NoRuz and is the last festival of the old year. The Zoroastrian day commences at sunrise and not midnight, and so during sunrise on the first day of the festival the immortal souls, together with their fravashis (the guardian spirits of departed ancestors, artistically depicted as half man/half bird), are welcomed by name by the Zoroastrian Mobeds or Magi (priests).

 

For ten days they reside in the place of worship, hovering around a table full of metal vases, each specifically earmarked for an individual family and containing white flowers. They leave the physical world after the last ceremony, held on the tenth evening, but before the dawn of NoRuz. The designated priest – as a farewell gesture – will then empty the water from one of the metal vases, which he will turn upside down, signifying that it is time for the immortal souls and the fravashis to return to the spiritual world.

 

Theologically Fravardigan is the most important Zoroastrian festival after NoRuz, but, since it deals with one’s departed ancestors, many Zoroastrians regard it to be their holiest festival. During these ten days Zoroastrians often take time off from work, pray extensively, recite the five Gathas (hymns composed by Zarathushtra) and ensure their houses are thoroughly cleaned. They prepare daily samples of sacred food enjoyed by their departed ancestors while still alive, and take these to the place of worship, to be tasted by them during the daily ceremonies. This ritually consecrated food, along with chosen fruits, is then shared by the living in the special Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar, a communal feast celebrated after the ceremony is over.

 

More Information:

 

Faiths Forum – Fravardigan/Muktad

Ahuramazda: Zoroastrian Festivals

Zarthustra’s Essential Teachings

Zoroastrian Calendar

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10th August
RAKSHA BANDHAN

Hindu

 

This festival takes place on the full moon of Shravana. Raksha means ‘protection’ and bandhan means ‘to tie’.   Girls and married women in families of a north Indian background tie a rakhi (amulet) on the right wrists of their brothers, wishing them protection from evil influences of various kinds.

 

More Information:

 

Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India: Raksha Bandhan

About Hinduism: Raksha Bandhan

Maps of India: Raksha Bandhan

Culture: Festivals – Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan)

Indif Devotional: Raksha Bandhan – The Festival of Brotherhod and Love

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10th August
FESTIVAL OF HUNGRY GHOSTS/ZHOHGYUANJIE/CHUNG YUAN

Buddhist (Chinese)

 

Chinese Buddhist and ancestral festival also called the ‘Festival of Hungry Ghosts’. Paper objects for use in the spirit world are made and offered to aid the spirits who have no resting place or descendants. Large paper boats are made and burnt at temples to help spirits on their journey across the sea of torment to Nirvana.

 

More Information:

 

Discover Hong Kong. Festivals/Chinese – The Hungry Ghosts festival

About Chinese Culture: The Hungry Ghost Festival

About Mandarin: Ghost Month and Ghost Festival

Huffington Post: Hungry Ghost Festival

Bukit Brown: ‘Hungry Ghost Month’ – Reflections

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13th August
O-BON

Japanese

 

A Japanese festival when the spirits of the departed are welcomed back home with feasting and dancing. Fires are often lit to illuminate their arrival and departure. Celebrations in rural areas may take place one month earlier.

 

More Information:

 

Japan Guide – O-bon

 

Japan Guide – O-bon

Go Japan: Japanese Festivals – O-bon

Kids Web Japan; Bon Holidays

The Diplomat: Obon – Japan Welcomes the Ancestors (And Other Spirits Too)

The Japan Guy: What is Obon?

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15th August
ASSUMPTION (DORMITION) OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Christian (Roman Catholic)

 

On this day Catholic Christians celebrate the ‘taking up’ of Mary, body and soul, to heaven. Many Catholic communities mark the festival of the Assumption with processions and fêtes.

 

More Information:

 

The Mary Page: A Variety of Customs associated with the Assumption

About Catholicism: Assumption of Mary

Time and Date: Assumption of Mary

Catholic Culture: The Assumption of Our Lady

Mary Pages: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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17th August
JANMASHTAMI / KRISHNA JAYANTI

Hindu

 

The birthday of Krishna is widely celebrated throughout the Hindu world.  He is a very popular avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu and many Hindus fast in his honour until midnight, the time of Krishna’s birth.  Those unable to fast will take some fruit and milk. In the temples Krishna is welcomed with singing, dancing and sweets.  In some homes and temples an image of the new-born Krishna is put in a cradle and special sweets (e.g. the powder, panjiri, given traditionally  to women after childbirth) are offered and distributed.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Janmashtami

Mangalore: Sri Krishna Jayanti

AstroVed: Fill Your Life with Love and Abundance – Krishna’s Birthday

Festivals of India: Sri Krishna Jayanti/Krishnaastami

Krishna: How to Celebrate Janmashtami

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18th August
NAVROZE / NO RUZ

Zoroastrian (Shenshai – Parsi)

 

New Year’s Day on the Shenshai Calendar. In the tenth century a group of Zoroastrians fled from Iran and were given religious sanctuary by the Hindus of Western India, where they became known as Parsis (or Persians). During the twentieth century the Zoroastrians of Iran have revised their calendar to take account of the leap year, while the Parsis of India have continued following the traditional imperial or Shenshai calendar. By the twentieth century the Parsis of India had become the largest group in the world to practise Zoroastrianism, and in the twenty first century over 95% of Zoroastrians in the UK are Parsis.  Like their Indian counterparts, they celebrate two new years – giving more time for making merry!

 

More Information:

 

Zoroastrian Heritage – Papeti – Navroze/No Ruz

Zawa: Joy Grows form the Conquest of Evil – Navroze, No Ruz, Papeti

Iran Chamber Society: No-Rooz, The Iranian New Year at Present Times

India New England: Happy New Year (Navroze Greetings) to the Parsi Community!

India Opines: A Glimpse into Parsi Cuisine This Navroze

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23rd August
KHORDAD SAL

Zoroastrian (Shenshai)

 

The Birthday of Zarathushtra, one of the most important Zoroastrian festivals. Khordad means perfection and although the actual date of his birth cannot be accurately identified, the festival of Khordad Sal symbolically celebrates the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra and falls on the sixth day following NoRuz.

 

It is customary on this day to visit the Fire Temple to give thanks to Ahura Mazda for giving humanity the Prophet Zarathushtra; to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony; to listen to stories of the miraculous birth and life of Prophet Zarathushtra; and to share in a happy community meal, a drink and a dance.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps – Khordad Sal

The date of Khordad Sal

A History of Khordad Sal

Global World: Birth of Zoroaster – Zoroastrian Khordad Sal

Khordad Sal – The Birthday of Zoroaster

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28th August
THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD

Christian (Eastern Orthodox. Julian Calendar)

 

On this day, Eastern Orthodox Christians commemorate the passing of Mary, Mother of Christ, in the presence of the Apostles.  Miraculously brought together at her house, Mary told the Apostles of the reason for their gathering, and comforted them.  She raised her hands to pray for peace for the world, and blessed each apostle before giving up her spirit. The apostles buried Mary at Gethsemane, where Jesus had also been buried; but on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, Mary appeared to them, saying “Rejoice”.  In this way, the apostles first learned that Mary’s body had been taken up into Heaven, where Christ had already taken her spirit. When the apostles went to the grave, her body was gone, leaving a sweet fragrance. The symbolism of this event encompasses the idea of death as ‘falling asleep’ (this is what ‘dormition’ means), to be followed by eventual resurrection.

 

More Information:

 

Orthodox Wiki: Dormition of the Mother of God

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: Feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady, The Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary

Russian Orthodox Church: Dormition of the Holy Virgin

John the Theologian, The Dormition of the Holy Theotokos

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30th September
PARYUSHAN

Jain

 

30th August-6th September

 

These are eight days of purification, devoted to study, prayer, meditation and fasting, and ending with a period of confession and forgiveness.  Often monks will be invited to give teachings from the Jain scriptures.   Paryushana means ‘to stay in one place’, which signifies a time of reflection and repentance. Originally the practice was  monastic for the most part.

 

More Information:

 

Jain World: Paryushan Parva

eJainism: Paryushan Parva

Jaina: Federation of Jain Associations in North America: Paryushan Parv

Parliament of religions: Global Jains Begin Paryushan

Colostate Education: Paryushana Parva

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1st September
HARVEST FESTIVAL

Christian (Western, Anglican and Free Churches)

 

Dates vary

 

Special services are held around this time of year to give thanks for the goodness of God’s gifts in providing a harvest of crops along with all the other fruits of society.   Displays of produce are often made, usually distributed afterwards to those in need.   Increasingly the emphasis is on a wider interpretation than just the harvests of the fields and seas.

 

More Information:

 

To a Christian, What does Harvest mean?

Woodlands School: Harvest Festival

Images of Harvest Festival Celebrations

Send a Cow: Harvest Festival

Spoonful: Party Ideas for a Fall and Harvest Party

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1st September
INSTALLATION OF THE SIKH SCRIPTURE IN THE HARMANDIR SAHIB

Sikh

 

Amritsar 1604 CE

 

In 1604, in the Harmandir Sahib, a complex structure on the site of the present-day Golden Temple, the Sikhs’ fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, installed for the first time the the Adi Granth, a volume of scripture for the Sikh community. It consisted of the hymns of the first five Gurus plus those of other ‘saint-poets’. Hymns by the ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur, were later incorporated in the scripture, so forming the present Guru Granth Sahib.

 

More Information:

 

All About Sikhs: Harmandir Sahib – Installation of the Holy Granth

SGPC: Guru Granth Sahib

Sikhs: History of Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Gurbani Files: Sri Guru Granth Sahib – A Brief Introduction

Sikhism Guide: Sri Guru Granth Sahib

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5th September
FRAVARDIN MAH PARAB

Zoroastrian (Shenshai;  Parsi)

 

On the day of Fravardin, the 19th day of the month of Fravardin, the first month of the year, Zoroastrians visit the vicinity of the Towers of Silence in India (or in the UK the Zoroastrian Cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey) to participate in a jashan ceremony in memory of the departed fravashis (guardian spirits and souls of the community). Sacred food is prepared as an offering to the departed during the jashan and is later shared by the participants.

 

More Information:

 

Sympatico: Fravashi

Zoroastrian Religion’s Most Frequently Asked Questions

Parsi Times: A Gathering of Wishes – for Fravardin Mah Parab

Zoroastrian House Events, including Fravardigan Parab Jashan

Ahura Mazda: Fravardin Mah Parab

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8th September
RABBIT IN THE MOON FESTIVAL/ZHONGQIUJIE/CHUNG CH’IU

Chinese

 

This Mid-Autumn festival celebrates the moon’s birthday. Traditionally, offerings of moon cakes are made by women to the goddess of the moon. Offerings are also made to the rabbit in the moon, who is pounding the elixir of life with a pestle. ‘Spirit money’ is bought along with incense and offered to the moon by women.  They also make special ‘moon’ cakes containing ground lotus and sesame seeds or dates. These contain an image of the crescent moon or of the rabbit in the moon, and children holding brightly coloured lanterns are allowed to stay up late to watch the moon rise from some nearby high place.

 

More Information:

 

Mystery Authors: Rabbit in the Moon Festival

SACU: Mid Autumn Festival

Chinese Child Book: Chinese Moon Festival Background

China Highlights: Mid-Autumn Festival Stories

Wiki How: Enjoy a Chinese Moon Festival

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9th September
GANESH CHATURTHI (BIRTHDAY OF GANESH)

Hindu

 

Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival in honour of Ganesha, the god of good fortune and new beginnings. He was the elephant headed son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, and is often referred to as Ganupati. This festival is particularly significant for Hindus from Maharashtra and is celebrated in a major way in Mumbai.  Celebrations can last one, five or ten days, and will conclude with the immersion in water of the image of Ganesh.

 

More Information:

 

About Hinduism: Ganesh Chaturthi

Taj Online: Ganesh Chaturthi

Ashtavinayaka: Ganesh Chaturthi

Go India: Guide to the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in India

Swaminarayan: Ganesh Chaturthi

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11th September
ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR’S DAY

Rastafarian

 

Rastafarians have a four year cycle, each year named after an evangelist. This is the beginning of the year of John.

 

More Information:

 

Silver International – Ethiopian New Year

Selamta: Ethiopian Calendar/Coptic New Year

Ethiopian Calendar: Ethiopian New Year

Bill Petro: History of Ethiopian New Year – What is Enkutatash?

Press TV: Ethiopians celebrate New Year

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20th September
HIGAN

Japanese

 

20 – 26 September HIGAN

23 September SHUBUN NO HI

 

Marks the autumn equinox. As at the spring equinox, harmony and balance are the themes; sutras are recited and the graves of relatives are visited.

 

More Information:

 

Kalamalama – Shubun no hi

Tokyo 5: Shubun no hi

Buddhanet: The Japanese and Buddhism

In Culture Parent: Happy O-Higan!

http://homepage3.nifty.com/namakos/shubun.html

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23rd September
AUTUMN EQUINOX

(MABON) Wiccan Pagan

(Alban Elued or Alban Elfed) Druid

 

Day and night stand hand in hand as equals. As the shadows lengthen, Pagans see the darker faces of the God and Goddess. For many Pagans, this rite honours old age and the approach of Winter.

 

More Information:

 

All About Paganism: Mabon, the Autumn Equinox

The Celtic Connection: Mabon – by Akasha

The White Goddess: The Wheel of the Year – Mabon, the Autumn Equinox

Two Pagans: Blessed Mabon

The Llewellyn Encyclopedia: Mabon Ritual

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25th September
ROSH HASHANAH (HEAD OF THE YEAR)

Jewish

 

25-26 September

 

New Year’s Day, 5774 years from the creation of the world. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of ten days of repentance and self examination, during which G-d sits in personal judgment on every individual. The blowing of the ram’s horn (shofar) in the synagogue is a reminder of Abraham’s sacrifice of a ram instead of his son, Isaac. Apples dipped in honey are eaten in the hope of a ‘sweet’ new year. The greeting is ‘Leshanah Tovah Tikatev’ (may you be inscribed for a good year).

Genesis 22, Leviticus 23:24-25.

 

More Information:

 

Jewish Virtual Library: Rosh HaShana – History and Overview

About Judaism: Rosh Hashanah

Jewfaq: Rosh Hashanah

Chabad: Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah – Images and Pictures

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25th September
MICHAELMAS

National

 

One of the four Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar.

 

More Information:

 

Culture UK – Michaelmas

Catholic Culture: Michaelmas Day

About Paganism: Michaelmas

Historic UK: Michaelmas

Waldorf Homes Schools: Michaelmas Circle, Story and Resources

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25th September
NAVARATRI

25 September – 3 October

 

Navaratri means nine nights, and this is the length of the festival. Hindus from different areas celebrate in different ways.  In north India the Ram Lila is performed each night, in celebration of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, the demon king of Sri Lanka. Families from Gujarat gather, wherever they are in the world, to participate in circle dances associated with the Goddess and Lord Krishna. Many Punjabis worship the Goddess daily during Navaratri, and observe a strictly vegetarian diet. On the eighth day, Durga Ashtami, Punjabi Hindus fast before conducting worship of the Goddess that involves honouring young girls as the embodiment of her power.

 

More Information:

 

Ahmedabad on Internet: Festivals – Navaratri

Rudraksha: Navratri festival/Navratri puja

Huffington Post: Navratri Photos – Durga Puja: Worshipping the Divine Mother

News on Air: Festival of Navratri

Gujarat India: All about Gujarat – Navratri

Blackburn Hindu Centre: Navratri

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25th September
DHUL-HIJJAH

25 September to 5 October  – 1st to 10th

 

For Muslims the first 10 days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah are held to be especially  holy when good deeds are particularly  rewarded by God. These days encompass the allotted days for the performance of the Hajj (pilgrimage) and the first day of Eid-ul-Adha (the feast of sacrifice).

More information:

 

Sunnah Online – The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah

About Islam: What is the significance of the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah?

Productive Muslim: Four Things to Do on the Blessed 10 Days of Dhul Hijjah

ICNA: Virtues of the First 10 Days of ‘Dhul-Hijja’

Islamic Centre: 12th Month in the Islamic Calendar: Dhul Hijjah

 

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1st October
JASHN-E MEHERGAN (or MIHR JASHAN)

Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

Jashn-e Mehergan is an early autumn festival, and like NoRuz its origins have been lost in antiquity. Mehergan is dedicated to the divinity Meher or Mithra, who is associated with the sun and with justice. The ripening of the crops and fruits at this time of the year is seen as symbolic of the ripening of the world into fullness, before the moment of the ultimate victory over evil. It evokes the physical resurrection of the body along with its immortal soul, as promised by Ahura Mazda. It is customary to visit the Fire Temple to offer thanks to the Creator God, to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony, to listen to stories of King Faridoon’s triumphant capture of the evil Zohak and to share in a community meal that includes dry fruits and nuts, along with a drink, dancing and merrymaking.

 

More Information:

 

Iran Review – Jashn-e-Mehergan

Historical Iran: Iranian Sites and People

Anobanini: Mehrgan-Mihragan-Jashn-e Mehr

Fouman: Collective Iranian Culturbase – Mehregan

Cais/SOAS: Celebrations – The Festival of Mehregan

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2nd October
DURGA PUJA

In Nepal, Bangladesh and (in India) West Bengal and other north eastern areas, Durga Puja is the biggest annual festival and lasts several days.  In Kolkota hundreds of pandals (decorated temporary shrines) are put up. The Goddess’s slaying of the demon, Mahishasura, is celebrated, and in Nepal the celebration involves animal sacrifices. The festival ends with the immersion of figures of Durga in rivers and sea.

 

 

More Information:

 

About Hinduism: The History and Origin of Durga Puja

About India: Guide to Durga Puja Festival in India

The Essentials of Durga Puja

South London: Durga Puja

Durga Puja in Photographs

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2nd October
PICNIC IN A HIGH PLACE / CLIMB A HIGH MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL / CHONGYANGJIE / CH’UNG YANG

Chinese

 

This Double Ninth festival is the day for hill climbing or ‘going up on a high place’. It reminds of an ancient seer who foretold an imminent natural calamity and escaped by going into the hills. The rest of humanity ignored his warnings and perished. Kites are flown, family graves visited, and a ‘golden pig’ is shared by large families with fruit, wine, tea and rice.

 

More Information:

 

China Vista – Picnic in a High Place

Travel China Guide  – Chong Yang

About Taoism: Double Ninth Festival – Ching Yang Jie

English People: Chong Yang Jie: The story of how the plague monster was defeated

What’s On: Double Ninth Day or Chong Yang Jie in China

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3rd October
HAJJ / PILGRIMAGE TO MAKKAH (8th to 12th Dhul-Hijjah)

Muslim

 

3-7 October  

 

All Muslims who can afford to do so, and are not prevented through ill-health, are required to make this pilgrimage once in their lifetime (although there is no prohibition on making the pilgrimage more than once). A series of ritual acts are performed by the pilgrims during the first two days of Hajj, prior to the three day festival of Eid-al-Adha which is celebrated in Makkah by the pilgrims

 

More Information:

 

Saudi Embassy – Hajj

Hajj in Pictures and Photos

Islamic City: Hajj – The Journey of a Lifetime

Islamic City: Hajji Information Centre – Hajj

The Guardian: World News – Hajj

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4th October
YOM KIPPUR (DAY OF ATONEMENT)

Jewish

 

This is the final day of the ten days of repentance, and is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar. The Bible calls it the ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths’, and it is marked by ‘afflicting the soul’ – expressed through a total fast lasting 25 hours. Jews spend the eve and most of the day in prayer, asking for forgiveness for past wrongs and resolving to improve in the future. The Book of Jonah is read. A common greeting is ‘G’mar Chatimah Tovah’ (‘May you finally be sealed for good’).

 

Leviticus 16:4-34, 23:27-32.

 

More Information:

 

Jewish Virtual Library: Yom Kippur

Jewfaq: Yom Kippur

Chabad: High Holidays – Yom Kippur

Torah: Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

USA Today: On Yom Kippur, Jews split on which shoes to choose

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4th October
DUSSEHRA / VIJAYA DASHAMI

While it is known by different names in different areas, this is one of the few festivals celebrated across  India.  Navaratri means ‘nine nights’, which is how long the festival lasts.  The final three days are the most important. In North India the performance of the Ram Lila during Navaratri commemorates Rama’s victory over Ravana, the demon  king of Sri Lanka. In Northern India the goddess Durga is worshipped on the eighth day. Some Panjabis mark this day by giving food and other items to young girls.

 

More Information:

 

UCLA: Culture/Festivals/Dussehra

About India: Guide to Dussehra Festival in India

Dussehr Info: Dussehra – Know About the Mega Festival of Happiness

Calendarlabs – Dussehra

I love India – Dussehra

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4th October
YAUM-ARAFAH/THE DAY OF ARAFAT (9th Dhul-Hijjah)

Muslim

 

This day marks the culminating event of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah.  Muslims  who  are  on   Hajj   spend   the   day  in  prayer  on  Mount   Arafat   to commemorate the end of the revelation of the  Qur’an to the  Prophet.  Those not on Hajj are also expected to pray and to fast.

Surah 5: 4

 

More Information:

 

Ilmgate: The Blessed Days of Dhu ‘l-Hijjah – Its Virtues and Various Acts to Perform

Sunni Path: The Day of ‘Arafah’ – The 9th of Dhu’l Hijjah

Al Maghrib: The Truth Behind the Day of Arafah and its Name

Khilafah: The Day of Arafat and its Merits

About Islam: What is the meaning and significance of the Day of Arafat?

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5th October
EID-UL-ADHA/THE FESTIVAL OF SACRIFICE (10th Dhul-Hijjah)

Muslim

 

This major festival (al-Eid al-Kabir) marks the end of the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah) on the tenth day of the twelfth month of Dhul-Hijja. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.  Pilgrims sacrifice animals at the village of Mina on their way back to Makkah from Mount Arafat (where they have spent the first day of the festival) in commemoration of Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness  to sacrifice  his son, Ismail. Muslims all over the world sacrifice an animal if they can afford it. Much of the meat is distributed to the poor, and some is shared  with relatives  and friends.

 

Surah 37:99-111, 22:26-33 and 3:96-97.

 

More Information:

 

Imam Ilyas Sidyot: The spirit behind Eid-ul-Adha

Sunni Path: The Fiqh of Eid-al-Adha

Ahadith: Search for Hadith on Eid ul Adha – 30 results

Islam City – Eid-ul-Adha

123 Greetings: Eid ul Adha

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8th October
PAVARANA

Buddhist

 

The last day of the Rains Retreat (the Vassa) is known as Pavarana Day or ‘Leaving the Vassa’. Pavarana means ‘to invite’ and on this day monks who have completed the Retreat invite their fellows to admonish them for any failings. It is also known as ‘Sangha Day’.

 

More Information:

 

Buddhamind – Festivals: Pavarana

Buddhapadipa Temple: Pavarana Day

Buddhist Tourism: Pavarana Day

Little Bang Word Press: Pavarana Day

Buddha Space: Pavarana Day and ‘Buddha Space’

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9th October
SUKKOT

Jewish

 

9-16  October

 

A harvest festival commemorating the 40 years that the Jews spent in the wilderness on the way from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. A temporary hut or booth – called a sukkah – is used during this time for eating meals and for visits and socialising. In hot countries families may live in their sukkah during the festival. The roof, which has to be open in part to the elements, is covered with branches and decorated with fruit. Four species of plant, the lulav (palm branch), the etrog (a yellow citrus fruit), the hadas (myrtle) and the aravah (willow) are used at the festival.

 

Leviticus 23:33-43.

 

NB The first two days (Oct 9,10) and the last two days (Oct 15,16) are full festival days when, for Orthodox Jews, work is not permitted.

 

More Information:

 

Jewish Virtual Library – Sukkot

Jewfaq: Sukkot

My Jewish Learning: Sukkot 101

Orthodox Union: Holidays – Sukkot

ReformJudaism: Sukkot – Feast of Booths

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13th October
THE FESTIVAL OF THE POOL/EID UL GHADEER (or GHADIR) (18h Dhul-Hijjah)

Muslim  (Shi‘a)

 

This is a festival observed by Shi‘a Muslims, for whom it is an extremely important day. It commemorates an event shortly before the death of the Prophet. When returning from Makkah to Medina after his final pilgrimage, the Prophet, who was travelling with many thousands of his followers, stopped at an oasis (the pool of Khumm) to deliver a sermon.  While preaching he is believed by Muslims to have raised the hand of Ali, his cousin and son-in-law, and proclaimed, ‘For whoever I am his leader, Ali is his leader. O God, love those who love him, and be hostile to those who are hostile to him’.

 

Immediately after this statement the Prophet revealed an ayah (verse) of the Qur’an: ‘Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion’ (Qur’an 5, 3.) For Shi‘a Muslims the ‘perfecting’ of the religion of Islam was the announcement concerning Ali, which they understand to be his clear appointment to be successor to the prophet as the spiritual and temporal leader of Islam.

 

More Information:

 

Slide Share: Eid Alghadeer

Ziaraat: Significance of Eid-e-Ghadeer

COEJ: Eid-e-Ghadeer – The Greatest Eid in Islam

Seratonline: Why do Shias celebrate Eid-e- Ghadeer?

The Ismaili: Eid-e Ghadir

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16th October
INTER FAITH WEEK OF PRAYER FOR WORLD PEACE

16-23 October

 

Prayers from the literature of several different world religions are published each year in a special leaflet for use in this week. This custom receives the support of members from many different religious communities.

 

More Information:

 

Week of Prayer for World Peace

Barnabas in Schools: Week of Prayer for World Peace

Banner Cross Methodist Church: What is the Week of Prayer for World Peace?

Quakers in Britain: Local Interfaith Activities

Brahma Kumaris: Building Interfaith Bridges

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17th October
SIMCHAT TORAH

Jewish

 

This festival marks the completion of the annual cycle of reading from the Torah. As the reading should be continuous, a second scroll is begun again as soon as the final portion of the Torah has been read from the first scroll; so, as the reading from Deuteronomy ends, with the next breath, Genesis begins without a break – the Torah is a circle that never ends. All the Torah scrolls are paraded around the synagogue, with children dancing and singing, as do many of the adults, giving as many people as possible the honour of carrying a Torah scroll. Most progressive Jews celebrate this one day earlier, combining it with the eighth day of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret.

 

More Information:

 

Jewfaq: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

About Judaism: Simchat Torah

The Shiksa in the Kitchen: What is Simchat Torah?

Huffington Post: Simchat Torah: Dates, Dances, Customs, Shemini Atzeret Explained

Aish: Articles on Simchat Torah

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20th October
CONFERRING OF GURUSHIP ON THE GURU GRANTH SAHIB BY GURU GOBIND SINGH 1708 CE

Sikh

 

In 1708, shortly before his death, Guru Gobind Singh (the Sikhs’ tenth Guru) declared that, instead of having another human Guru, from now on Sikhs would regard the scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, as Guru.

 

More Information:

 

Gurdwara sahib – Conferring Guruship on Guru Granth Sahib

Search Sikhism – Conferring Guruship – Concept of the Guru

Sikh Missionary Society: Sikhism-Takhts-Sri Hazoor Sahib

Images of Conferring of Guruship on the Guru Granth Sahib

Sikh Wiki: Guru Maneo Granth (Consider the Granth to be the Guru)

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20th October
ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF THE BAB

Baha’i

 

The Bab (the title means ‘the Gate’) was born in Shiraz, Persia in 1819. He was the prophet-herald of the Baha’i community and called people to religious renewal and to await the coming of a new messenger from God – ‘the one whom God shall make manifest’. Baha’is believe that this latter figure was Baha’u’llah (the title means ‘Glory of God’). Baha’is observe this holy day by abstaining from work.   Their gatherings normally involve prayers, devotional readings, music and fellowship.

 

More Information:

 

Baha’i Reference Library: Tablets of Baha’u'llah Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas

Tacoma Baha’i: The Anniversary of the Birth of the Bab – October 20th

Susan Gammage: The Birth of the Bab – Holy Day Programme

Baha’i Blog: The Life of the Bab

Bella Online – The Voice of Women: Birth of the Bab

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23rd October
DIVALI / DEEPAVALI

Hindu

 

For Hindus this is a New Year festival lasting  from one to five days, during which lights are hung out and fireworks are exploded.  It is a festival of light, coinciding with the darkest night of the lunar month. Various interpretations are given to the festival in different parts of India, but it is generally associated with Lakshmi,  goddess  of wealth and prosperity  or with the victorious return  of Rama and Sita to the kingdom of Ayodhya after their exile. Divali marks the beginning of the Indian financial  year.

 

More Information:

 

Diwali – The festival of lights

Nalis: The Origins of Divali

Best of Trinidad: Divali (Deepavali)

About Hinduism: Diwali – Festival of Lights – Light Up Your Life!

Primary Homework Help: Diwali

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23rd October
DIVALI (Bandi Chhor Divas)

Sikh

 

Sikhs also celebrate Divali since Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, was released from Gwalior prison on this day. The Guru refused to accept release when it was offered him by the Emperor Jehangir unless 52 imprisoned Hindu princes were also given their freedom.  To meet the Emperor’s condition that only those who could hold on to his cloak could leave the prison, the Guru had a coat with long tassels made.  The Golden Temple in Amritsar is illuminated at this time and firework displays take place there.  It is a time for new clothes, presents and sweets.

 

More Information:

 

Sikh Net: Bandi Chhor Divas

Sikh Net: Happy Bandi Chhor Divas

Sikh Dharma: Bandi Chhor Divas

The Huffington Post: Bandi Chhor Divas

Holly Mania: Bandi Chhor Divas – History and Significance

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23rd October
DIVALI / DEEPAVALI

Jain

 

Divali has a special significance for Jains, as on this day in 527 BCE Mahavira gave his last teachings and attained ultimate liberation.  Today lamps are lit and children are given sweets by their parents.  Some devout Jains fast for the two days of Divali, following the example of Mahavira.

 

More Information:

 

Jain University: Diwali

Jain Samaj: Jainism – Significance of Diwali in Jain Dharma

Jagran Post: Special way of celebrating Diwali by Jains

Heena Modi: The importance of Dipavalee (Diwali) in Jainism

Huffington Post: A Jain Perspective on Diwali

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25th October
ISLAMIC NEW YEAR 1436 / AL-HIJRA/RA’S UL ‘AM (Muharram 1)

Muslim

 

This day commemorates the Hijra or migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Medina in 622 CE, which led to the establishment of the Muslim community there. The day is not universally celebrated amongst Sunni Muslims but is notable as Muslim years are dated from this time and are marked AH (After the Hijrah). In 2013 CE the Muslim year 1435 AH begins. For some Muslim communities this is a day of celebration at the mosque, where stories are told of the Prophet and his Companions. For the Shi‘a community the more important significance is that this is the first day of the period of fasting, mourning and remembrance leading up to Ashura.

 

More Information:

 

Islam for the World: Al Hijrah or the Prophet’s Emigration

Faithology: Al-Hijra

BBC Religions: Al-Hijra – The Muslim New Year

World Bulletin: The Ottoman way of celebrating the Islamic New Year

Jakarta Post: Unique traditions mark Islamic New Year

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31st October
HALLOWEEN

National

WINTER NIGHTSHeathen

 

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31.  The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows Evening, also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.  Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting ‘haunted houses’, and carving jack-o-lanterns.   Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.   Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

 

More Information:

 

Halloween History

Project Britain: Halloween

Time and Date: Halloween in the United States

British Council/Learn British Kids: Halloween

Winter Nights Festival: About Vetrnaetr

Wyrdwords/Vispa: Winter Nights

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31st October
SAMHAIN/ SAMHUINN

SAMHAIN (pronounced Sow-in) Wiccan Pagan

SAMHUINN Druid

 

The wheel of the year is seen to begin at Samhain. This is the Celtic New Year, when the veil between the worlds of life and death stands open. Samhain is the festival of death when Pagans remember and honour those who have gone before. Fires are lit and ‘dead wood’ is burned before stepping into the darkness of winter. Pagans celebrate death as part of life. This is not a time of fear, but a time to understand more deeply that life and death are part of a sacred whole.

 

More Information:

 

Mystic Familiar – Samhuinn

Inventors: The History of Halloween or Samhain

About Paganism/Wicca: Samhain History

Wicca – The Celtic Connection: Samhain

The White Goddess: The Wheel of the Year/Samhain

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1st November
ALL SAINTS’ DAY

Christian (Western Churches)

(The Catholic Church in England and Wales moves this festival to the nearest Sunday if it falls on a Saturday or a Monday.)

 

All Hallows’, originally All Martyrs’

 

This day provides a chance to offer thanks for the work and witness of all Christian saints, recognising that not all are known or specially celebrated. Many churches stress this day rather than Hallowe’en, which falls the day before, by holding events especially designed for children.

 

More Information:

 

Women for Faith and Family: Prayers and Devotions – All Saints

Lutheran Church: The Meaning and Origin of All Saints Day

Holiday Insights: All Saints Day

About Catholicism: All Saints Day

Church Year: The Solemnity of All Saints Day

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2nd November
ALL SOULS’ DAY

Christian

 

On this day in particular the departed are remembered and prayers on their behalf are offered.   From earliest times Christians have prayed for the souls of the dead.   In the year. 998 All Souls, ‘the faithful departed’, began to be remembered in the Church calendar on this day.

 

More Information:

 

BBC Religions: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

About Catholicism: All Souls Day

All Souls Day

Fisheaters: All Souls Day

This is Ecuador:All Souls Day in Ecuador

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2nd November
ANNIVERSARY OF THE CROWNING OF HAILE SELASSIE I

Rastafarian

 

One of the holiest days of the Rastafarian year, it celebrates Haile Selassie’s accession to the Ethiopian throne.

 

More Information:

 

The Dread Library: Crowning of Haile Selassie I

BBC: Religions/Rastafari/Beliefs/Haile Selassie

Rasta Ites: The Coronation of His Imperial Majesty Qedamawie Emperor Haile Selassie I

A Celebration of Women: 84th Anniversary of the Crowning of Haile Selassie

Anglo-Ethiopian Publications: Coronation of HIM Haile Selassie – 2 November 1930

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3rd November
ASHURA (10th Muharram)

Muslim

 

For Sunni Muslims this is one of the two days of a minor fast that the Prophet kept in his lifetime. The second day of the fast may be observed either on the day preceding or the day following the 10th of Muharram. For Shi‘a Muslims this is a day when they recall a great tragedy that took place on Muharram 10, AH 61 (680 CE). The Imam Husayn (son of Ali and Fatimah and therefore grandson of the Prophet) travelling with his family and many followers, was attacked by the troops of the Caliph Yazid.

 

After eight days without water Husayn was killed and his family and followers massacred at Karbala (now in Iraq). Shi‘a Muslims remember the events in the days leading up to Ashura when they fast and recall these terrible events. The importance of this holy day can be judged from a popular Shi‘a saying which some attribute to a Muslim poet and some to the sixth Imam, Jafar al-Saadiq: “Live as if every day is Ashura, every land Karbala!”

 

More Information:

 

Ashura.com: Every day is ashura and every land is Kerbala

Huffington Post: Ashura – Dates, Rituals and History Explained with Photos

About Islam: The Day of ‘Ashura

World Time: Shi’ite Muslims Around the World Mark Ashura

Religion Facts: What is Ashura?

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6th November
ANAPASATI DAY

Buddhist

 

This is the last day on which the Kathina may be held. On the final day of the three months long Rains Retreat, or at some time during the month that follows it, it is observed by monks in the Theravada tradition. Cloth is presented to the Sangha by members of the lay Buddhist community, and this is then transformed into a Kathina robe, made up by sewing patches of cloth together.  This is then presented by the monks present to one particular monk, often an especially deserving or virtuous one, in a special ceremony conducted by four of his colleagues. The laity are able to gain merit for themselves by watching the ceremony.

 

More Information:

 

Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing

Theravada Dhamma – Anapanasati Day

Khalibodhi Word Press: Happy Anapanasati Day

Buddhanet – Festivals and Ceremonies: Anapasati Day

Vipassana Research Institute: Anapana for Children

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6th November
BIRTHDAY OF GURU NANAK

Sikh

 

1469 CE

 

Nanak was the first Sikh Guru, and to celebrate significant birthdays such as his, an akhand path, a complete uninterrupted reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, is begun about two days earlier, so that it will be finished on the morning of the festival.  Sikhs gather at the gurdwara to hear sermons and lectures (katha) and sing hymns (kirtan) about the life of the first Guru. The congregation will share a free meal (langar). The gurdwaras are usually illuminated and there are firework displays.

 

More Information:

 

Times of India: Guru Nanak Jayanti

The First Master – Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539)

About Sikhism: All About the Birth of Guru Nanak

The Tribune: 546th birth anniversary: Guru Nanak’s birthday unites minorities

SPCK – Assemblies Org UK: The birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji – A Sikh celebration

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9th November
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY

National

 

The Sunday nearest to Armistice Day, devoted to remembering the dead of the two World wars and subsequent wars.

 

More Information:

 

BBC Schools – Festivals and Events: Remembrance

The British Legion: Remembrance Sunday

History Extra: In focus – Remembrance Day Traditions

The Guardian: Remembrance Sunday – call for Church of England to ditch Cenotaph role

The War Poetry Web: Poems for Remembrance Day and Peace Events

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12th November
ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF BAHA’U’LLAH
15th November
SHICHI-GO-SAN (Seven-Five-Three)

Japanese

 

Girls of seven, boys of five and girls of three are dressed up in new clothes and taken to a Shinto shrine to pray for their future well-being.

 

More Information:

 

Ginkoya – Shichi-Go-San

Go Japan Go: Shichi-Go-San

Kids Web Japan: Schichi-go-san

Zooming Japan: Shichi-go-san – 7-5-3 Day on November 15th

Notes of Nomads: Shichi-go-san Festival, Japan

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24th November
MARTYRDOM OF GURU TEGH BAHADUR

Sikh

 

1675

 

Under orders from the Moghul emperor, the ninth Guru was executed in public opposite the Red Fort in Delhi, for upholding the right of Kashmiri Hindus to worship in the manner of his o r her choice.  In so doing he sacrificed his head rather than his faith, on behalf of individual Indians who had turned to him for help.

 

More Information:

 

The Ninth Master – Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675)

Global World: Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Sikhiwiki: Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur

The world of Guru Nanak: Guru Teg Bahadur Ji – The Ninth Guru

Patshahi 10: Who killed Guru Tegh Bahadur?

Sikh Missionary Society: The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Sikh History: Guru Tegh Bahadur ji (1621 – 1675)

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30th November
ST ANDREW’S DAY

Christian

 

Andrew, the apostle, was brother of St Peter, and the first disciple to follow Jesus. He was crucified at Patras in Greece and has been patron saint of Scotland since the 8th century. In the Anglican communion he is associated with missionary activity.

 

More Information:

 

Biographical sketches of memorable Christians of the past: Andrew the Apostle

Education Scotland: Resources – St Andrew’s Day – 30 November

Catholic Culture: November 30th – Feast of St. Andrew, apostle

British Library: Medieval manuscripts blog – Happy St Andrew’s Day

Pictures for St Andrew’s Day

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30th November
ADVENT SUNDAY

Christian (Western Churches)

 

The start of the Christian year, four Sundays before Christmas. It is often celebrated by lighting the first candle in the advent crown – a circular wreath of greenery. A further three candles are lit on subsequent Sundays, culminating with the Christmas candle on the 25th December. This signifies the transition from darkness to light, the light of Christ coming into the world.

 

More Information:

 

Christian Resource Institute: Advent

Woodlands Junior School: Advent

Huntsman: The Advent Season

Living Hope: The meaning of the Advent Wreath

Why Christmas: The Tradition of Advent

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30th November
ASALHA PUJA

Buddhist

 

30 November (or 11 July)

 

Dhammacakka day – ‘The turning of the wheel of teaching’. This is aTheravada celebration of the First Proclamation by Gautama to five ascetics in the Deer Park near Benares. In it he taught the Middle Way, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.

 

More information:

 

Buddhist Festivals – Asalha Puja

Chiang Mai University: Asalha Puja Day

Battaya Mail: Thai Buddhists nationwide perform religious rites on Asalha Puja Day

My Triple Blog: Asalha Puja Day

Encyclopedia Thai: Asanha Puja or Asarnha Bucha (Day before the Buddhist Lent)

 

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8th December
BODHI DAY

Buddhist

 

Some Buddhists (eg Pure Land followers) celebrate Gautama’s attainment of Enlightenment on this day under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, North India.

 

More Information:

 

Examiner: Bodhi Day – What it is and how to observe it

Do it yourself: Bodhi Day

Family Dharma Connection: Happy Bodhi Day

Belief.net: Beginners Heart – Happy Bodhi Day

A Global World: Bodhi Day is a Religious Observance for Buddhists

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8th December
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Christian (Roman Catholic)

 

Celebrates the doctrine held mainly by Roman Catholics that Mary herself was born free from Original Sin, leaving her sinless for the conception and bearing of Jesus.

 

More Information:

 

Catholic Answers: The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption

BBC Religions: The Immaculate Conception

About Catholicism: What is the Immaculate Conception?

Catholic Answers: Immaculate Conception and Assumption

Mary’s Immaculate Conception

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10th December
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

National

 

In 1948 The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  ‘All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.’

 

More Information:

 

Human Rights – What and When

U.N. – Human Rights Day

OHCHR: United Nations/Human Rights

HREA: Human Rights Day

NRCAT – Torture is a Moral Issue: Human Rights Day

United Nations Human Rights: What are human rights?

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16th December
HANUKAH

Jewish

 

16 December-23 December

 

Hanukah celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was recaptured from the Syrian Greeks by the Maccabee brothers in 165 BCE. For the eight evenings of the festival, candles are lit from right to left in a hanukkiah, a nine-branched menorah – one candle for each evening. The ninth candle is the shamash (the servant candle) from which the other candles are lit. Foods cooked with oil – such as doughnuts and latkes (potato cakes) – are traditional to remember the miracle with oil that kept the Temple lights burning so many years ago. A game of dreidel, a special small spinning top, is popular with children to commemorate ‘the great miracle that happened there’.

 

More Information:

 

History of Hanukah

About Judaism: What is Hanukkah?

Jewfaq: Chanukkah

My Jewish Learning: Hanukkah

Akhlah: Jewish holidays – Hanukkah

Torah Tots: Chanukah is Here

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21st December
YULE / WINTER SOLSTICE

YULE (archaic form Geola, pronounced Yula) Wiccan Pagan

WINTER SOLSTICE (Alban Arthan or Alban Arthuan) Druid

 

Yule is the time of the winter solstice, when the sun is reborn, an image of the return of all new life. Heathens celebrate Yule for Twelve nights and days starting the evening before the Winter Solstice (called Mother’s night) when they think of their female ancestors and spiritual protectors. The night heralds the beginning of the major holiday in Heathenry.

 

More Information:

 

Pagan/Wiccan: All About Yule

Wicca: The Winter Solstice – The Yule Log

Simnet: Yule in Iceland

Why Christmas: Customs – The History of the Yule Log

Culture: The Yule Log

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24th December
CHRISTMAS EVE

Christian

 

Evening carol services, crib services and Midnight Masses inaugurate the festival of Christmas. Santa Claus (from the Dutch Sinter Klaus) is a legendary figure, based on St Nicholas of Myra, and is supposed to bring presents to children on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

 

More Information:

 

BBC Religion: The Story of Christmas

Woodlands Junior School: Christmas Eve Traditions

Fish Eaters: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Cozi: 50 Holiday Traditions for Christmas

Why Christmas: Christmas Eve Traditions and Customs

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25th December
CHRISTMAS DAY

Christian (see also 6/7 January 2014)

 

Christmas Day Celebrates the birth of Jesus, whom Christians believe to be the son of God. The words of St John’s Gospel (Chapter 1:1-18) are read in many churches at this time; these speak of ‘the Word made flesh’, pointing to Christian belief in the Incarnation (God ‘made flesh’, or human). Gifts are given as reminders of the offerings brought to the infant Jesus at Bethlehem, and Christmas carols, plays and evergreens are associated with this time, while nativity sets are displayed in many churches and in some homes.

 

Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-7.

 

More Information:

 

CBN: The Real Meaning of Christmas

Calendar Updates: Christmas Day

Office Holidays: Christmas Day

Anno Mundi: The True Meaning of Christmas

The Huffington Post: The True Meaning of Christmas

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26th December
ZARATOSHT NO DISO

Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

Zaratosht no diso is the death anniversary of the Prophet Zarathushtra and is a sorrowful occasion.  Tradition records that this is when he was assassinated at the age of 77. It is customary to visit the Fire Temple, participate in special remembrance prayers (to him and to the Fravashis the guardian spirits of departed ancestors), and ponder upon the Gathas or Hymns of Zarathushtra, which embody his eternal message to humanity.

 

More Information:

 

Mythic Maps: Zaratosht No Diso

Crystal Links: Zoroaster and Death

Absolute Astronomy: Zoroastrianism

Mashpedia: Zoroastrianism

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31st December
OMISOKA

Japanese

 

Japanese festival which prepares for the new year by cleansing Shinto home shrines and Buddhist altars. The bells of Buddhist temples are struck 108 times to warn against the 108 evils to be overcome.

 

More Information:

 

Japan – Kidsweb: Omisoka

Kidzworld: Omisoka – Japanese New Year

NIC: Omisoka – Japan New Year’s Eve and Shogatsu – New Year’s Holidays

Zooming Japan; Omisoka – Japanese New Year’s Eve

Bella Online: Japanese Festivals – Omisoka – New Year’s Eve

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31st December
HOGMANAY

National

 

A celebration widely observed throughout the UK, and especially in Scotland, where bagpipes, haggis and first footing are widespread.  Clearing one’s debts, cleaning the house, welcoming guests and strangers and a host of other traditions feature at this time.

 

More Information:

 

Rampant Scotland – Hogmanay

BBC News: Hogmanay celebrations: Scotland brings in the new year

British Food and Drink: Hogmanay

Hogmanay-top-facts

History of New-years

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