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.

NOW UPDATED for 2017!

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January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
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:

 

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

Rampant Scotland – Hogmanay

Hogmanay-top-facts

British Food and Drink: Hogmanay

History of New-years

 

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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:

 

Guide to Japan – New Year – Ganjitsu

Asian Society: Japanese New Year

Mythic Maps – Ganjitsu

Japanese New Year has arrived -its Ganjitsu

Ganjitsu: Japanese New Year

 

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1st January
THE NAMING AND CIRCUMCISION 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:

 

Thinking Anglicans

Circumstitions – Why Christians need not be circumcised

The circumcision – parallel versions of the Bible account

Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Godward Archives: The Man who circumcised Jesus

 

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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). 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

Time and Date Holidays: Guru Govind Singh

Guru Gobind Singh Ji 1606-1708

Guru Govind Singh in Images and Cards

Sikh Dharma: Guru Gobind Singh’s Birthday

 

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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:

 

Time and Date: Epiphany

What is Epiphany ?

Topmarks Education – Epiphany

Catholic holydays and holidays – Epiphany

Epiphany – 10 Facts about the history and meaning of Three Kings Day

 

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6th January
CHRISTIAN EVE AND DAY – ORTHODOX AND RASTAFARIAN

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

 

Many Eastern Orthodox and Armenian churches, and certain others related to them (including the Ethiopian and Rastafarian communities) still use the Julian, rather than the Gregorian Calendar, that 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.

 

The focus of their celebrations is the arrival of the three Wise Men to celebrate the birth of the infant Jesus, supported by the belief that one of the three came from Ethiopia. The focus on January 7th as the date of his birth is held to be more accurate than the Western choice of a date with pagan connotations relating to the winter solstice.

 

More Information:

 

Why do Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7th?

Orthodox Christmas Day

Topmarks – Christmas/Epiphany

A Serbian Christmas Eve and Eastern European Food

The Calendar of the Orthodox Church

 

Rastafarian Christmas celebrations in particular are lively and vibrant, and are evidence of the buoyant nature of these communities and their customs. At the same time the theological message of the incarnation is always visible in their corporate worship.

 

More Information:

 

RastaMind – Merry Reggae Christmas

Do Rastafarians celebrate Christmas?

Rastafari – An Introduction for Beginners

Rastarian Christmas in Pictures

Beliefs, Practices and Sacraments of Rastafari

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6th January
BAPTISM OF CHRIST

Christian

 

(Orthodox. Julian date: 19 January)
(Roman Catholics observe on 9 January)

 

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:

 

Theopedia – The Baptism of Jesus

Greek Orthodox USA – Epiphany

The Baptism of Jesus

Paintings in Miniature of the Baptism of Jesus

Where was Jesus Baptised?

 

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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:

 

Swami Vivekananda: Life and Teachings

Vedanta Centre UK

Vivekananda and the Vedanta Network

50 Inspiring and Motivational Quotes from Swami Vivekananda

Vedanta philosophy

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13th 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:

 

Hindu Festivals – Sankranti

About Hinduism: Festivals/Lohri

SCFI – Lohri

Greetings Cards – Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti: Reaping the Benefits of the Season

 

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13th January
BASANT

Sikh

 

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:

 

Mythic Maps – Vasant Panchami

Saraswati Puja in pictures

About Hinduism – Saraswati Puja

Vasant Panchami – Saraswati Puja

Huffington Post – Saraswati Puja

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15th 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:

 

Blog: World Religion Day

Holiday Lessons for Children for World Religion Day

Holiday Lessons for Children for World Religion Day

Images for World Religions Day

Huffington Post – Baha’i World Religion Day

 

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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

Notes on the wasan of Shinran

Shinran – a peaceful Buddhist thinker – by George Gatenby

Shinran – Trailblazing Founder of Jodo Shinshu

Three Letters of Master Shinran’s Wife, Eshinni, to their Daughter, Kakushinni

 

 

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18th January
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

Christian

 

18th – 25th January

 

This week was first set aside in 1908. The theme for 2017 is: ‘Reconciliation – the love of Christ compels us’. 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:

 

 

World Council of Churches – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

CTBI: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Images for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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

Canadian Council of Churches – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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19th January
THEOPHANY / BAPTISM OF CHRIST

Christian (Eastern Orthodox)

 

According to the Julian calendar

 

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 …

 

Orthodox Christians celebrate the Epiphany in cold water

Theophany in the Orthodox Church

The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan

Orthodox Epiphany in the River Jordan

Coptic celebration of Theophany

 

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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

What and Where is the Pure Land?

Kyoto National Museum: The Illustrated Biography of Priest Honen

Honen and the Chion-in

New World Encyclopedia entry for 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 Day – Remembering the Horror of Auschwitz

Huffington Post – Holocaust Remembrance Day

 

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28th January
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. 2016 is the year of the Monkey.

 

More Information:

 

Lots to Learn about the Chinese New Year

Public Holidays – Chinese New Year

Information for Teachers on the Chinese New Year

Chinese Zodiac Signs and Animals

A Charming New Year

 

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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

Discovery of Fire – and Jashn-e-Sadeh

Celebration of Jashn-e-Sadeh in Iran

An Introduction to Jashne-e Sadeh – Fire Festival

 

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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

Imbolc through images

Celtic Lore for Imbolc

 

 

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1st February
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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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:

 

Candelmas – The Presentation of the Lord – the Church Year

The book of days – Candlemas

Project Britain – Candlemas Day

Presentation of the Lord in the Temple in pictures

Christian Holidays – Candlemass

 

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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:

 

Candelmas – The Presentation of the Lord – the Church Year

The book of days – Candlemas

Project Britain – Candlemas Day

Presentation of the Lord in the Temple in pictures

Christian Holidays – Candlemass

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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:

 

How to throw beans at Setsubun

Setsubun: Bean Throwing Festival

Setsubun for Kids

Kyoto Visitors’ Guide – Setsubun

Magazine Japan: Drive Away Evil Spirits with ‘Setsubun’

 

 

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8th February
PARINIRVANA

Buddhist

 

8th or 15th of February

 

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

Nirvana-Parinirvana-Enlightenment-Buddhahood

Images of the Parinirvana of the Buddha

MahaParinirvana and the Parinirvana of the Buddha

 

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11th 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 …

 

Jewfaq – Holidays – Tu B’Shevat

Aish – Tu Bshvat – New Year for Trees

Tu B’Shevat for Tots

Images for Tu B’Shevat

My Jewish Learning -Tu B’ishvat

 

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11th 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:

 

Chinese Fortune Calendar – Lantern Festival

China: English – Features – Festivals

Project Britain: Teng Chieh

Travel China Guide – Lantern Festival

Chinese New Year and Food for the Lantern Festival

 

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24th 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:

 

About Hinduism – Mahashivratri

I Love India – Mahashivratri

BBC Religions – Hinduism: Mahashivratri

Images of Mahashivratri
Times of India – Mahashivratri

 

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27th 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:

 

Homestay – Losar

Buddhist Holidays: Losar

The World’s Best Festivals – Losar

Worldbridges Tibet: Losar

Losar – Tibetan New Year

 

 

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27th 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:

 

The Fasting Rule of the Orthodox Church

Antiochian – Fasting: Great Lent

The Great Lent – a Week by Week Meaning

Blog: Great Lent Gourmet

About Greek Food – Great Lent Food and Traditions

 

 

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28th 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:

 

Topmarks: Shrove Tuesday

Time Out: Pancake Day in London

Project Britain – Shrove Tuesday

BBC Good Food – Pancake Day Recipes

Shrove Tuesday – a day for being shriven

 

 

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1st March
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:

 

Bible Info – What is Ash Wednesday?

Catholic Encyclopaedia – Ash Wednesday
BBC Religions: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday in pictures

Ash Wednesday in the Orthodox Church

 

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1st March
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

Frequently Asked Questions about Lent

Project Britain – Lent

Prayers for five weeks of Lent

Lent Journey – Forty daily reflections

 

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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:

 

Time and Date – St David’s Day

Museum Wales – St David’s Day

Project Britain – St David’s Day

St David’s Day in pictures

St David’s Cathedral

 

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3rd 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 2017 the theme will be ‘Am I being unfair to you?’ and the material has been prepared by Christian women in the Phillipines..

 

More Information:

 

World Day of Prayer – Wikipedia

Fakenham Parish church celebrates Womens World Day of Prayer

St Katharine’s Church, Blackpool – ‘Receive children, receive me’

Images for Womens World Day of Prayer

Adventist Churches: International Women’s Day of Prayer

 

 

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

Japanese

 

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, along with miniature multi-coloured sweetmeats. The dolls are intended to carry away any illness afflicting or threatening the daughters of the house. The day is widely celebrated by praying for daughters to grow up to be healthy and dutiful.

 

More Information:

 

Girls’ Day Dolls

Japanese About – Hinamatsuri

web-japan: Hinamatsuri

Hinamatsuri in Pictures

Kyoto National Museum – All about Japanese Hina Dolls

 

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10th March
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:

 

Festivals: Mahavir Jayanti

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

BBC Religion – Jainism: Mahavira

You Tube – Mahavira Jayanti

Times of India – Mahavir Jayanti

 

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11th March
FRAVARDIGAN / MUKTAD

Zoroastrian

 

11th – 20th March (Iranian Zoroastrian)

8th – 17th July (Kadmi)

 

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:

 

Muktad – When Souls Come-a-Visiting

Wikipedia on Farvardigan

Faiths Forum – Fravardigan/Muktad

Images for Fravardigan

What to do and pray during the Muktad
 

 

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12th March
PURIM

Jewish

 

Purim is a carnival festival recalling the saving of the Jewish community of Persia through the actions of a young Jewish woman, which is retold in the Book of Esther (the Megillah). The whole book/scroll is read twice in the synagogue, once on the evening of Purim and then also on the morning after. 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’, or with jam or chocolate) are baked and eaten at this time.

 

More Information:

 

Jewish Virtual Library – Purim

Virtual Jerusalem: Purim

Virtual Jerusalem: Purim

Purim colouring pages for Tots

Aish – Purim

 

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12th March
MAGHA PUJA

Buddhist

 

12th – 13th March

 

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

The Day of Four Marvellous Events

Chiang Mai University – Magha Puja Day

Dhammakaya – Magha Puja Day

Celebrating Magha Puja

 

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13th March
HOLI

Hindu

 

A spring festival lasting one to five days. Bonfires are lit and revellers throw coloured powders and dyes over each other. Various stories and customs 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:

 

The Festival of Holi

Hinduism – Holi – Festival of Colours

Colours of India – Holi

Colourful Holi

India Express – Holi

 

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14th March
HOLA MAHALLA/HOLA MOHALLA

Sikh

 

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 is celebrated on the day of Holi, or the day after.

 

More Information:

 

All about Sikhs: Holla Mohalla

Hola Mohalla

Hola Mohalla

Images for Hola Mohalla

Sikhiwiki: Hola Mohalla

 

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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:

 

History and fun-facts for St Patrick’s Day

On this day St Patrick dies

BBC Religions – Christianity: Saint Patrick

St Patrick’s Day – Traditional set dance

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

 

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18th March
HIGAN

Japanese

 

18th – 24th March

 

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:

 

Vernal Equinox Day – Shunbun no Hi

Alien Times – Shunbun No Hi

Kids Web in Japan – Vernal Equinox Day and Higan

Shunbun No Hi in Pictures

The Nihon Sun: Celebrating Shunbun no hi in Japan

 

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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:

 

Vernal Equinox Day – Shunbun no Hi

Alien Times – Shunbun No Hi

Kids Web in Japan – Vernal Equinox Day and Higan

Shunbun No Hi in Pictures

The Nihon Sun: Celebrating Shunbun no hi in Japan

 

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20th 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’sTable – An Age-Old Tradition

St Joseph’s Medals

Images of St Joseph’s Prayer

St Joseph’s Day Altars

 

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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: Spring Equinox Celebrations Around the World

Vernal Equinox – Everything you need to know – 2016

The Spring Equinox

Spring is in the air – and so are these lively festivals

School of the Seasons – Celebrating Spring Equinox

 

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20th 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 the day before, often with gatherings for prayer and a festive meal.

 

More Information:

 

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

Baha’i – Naw-Ruz

Baha’i Prayers: Naw-Ruz

Naw Ruz – Spiritual Springtime

 

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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:

 

Norouz – Mary Boyce – The Holiest and Most Joyous Festival of the Iranian Year

Crystal Links: Noruz

Mythic Maps: Jamshedi Noruz

Nauruz in Photos and Text

Nowruz – Origin and History

 

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24th 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 Parab – The Wondrous Power of Water

Food and Drink Customs during Ava Mah Parab

The Relevance and Significance of the month of Avan

Images for Ava Mah Parab/a>

Wikipedia – Aban Jashan

 

 

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25th March
THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD / LADY DAY

Christian/National 

 

Lady Day (National)
One of the four Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar.

 

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.

 

More Information:

 

Catholic Culture: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

BBC: The Annunciation

The Annunciation – Luke 1: 26-38

Leonardo da Vinci – The Annunciation

American Catholic: Annunciation of the Lord

 

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26th 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:

 

Anglican History: Mothering Sunday

Time and Date: Mothering Sunday

Project Britain – Mothering Sunday

Mothers Day Greeting Cards

Mothers Day Gifts

 

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26th March
KHORDAD SAL

Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

22th August Zoroastrian (Shenshai)

 

23th July Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

 

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:

 

Mango Salute: Khordad Sal – A Celebration of the Prophet Zarathustra

A History of Khordad Sal

Mythic Maps – Khordad Sal

Sakshigopal: Happy Khordad Sal! Birthday Day of Zoroaster!

Festivals advices – Khordad Sal – The Birthday of Zoroaster

 

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2nd 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:

 

Passion Sunday – it ain’t what it used to be …

Liturgy: Passion Sunday?

Catholic Activity: Carling or Passion Sunday

Images for Passion Sunday

The saints and the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

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4th 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)

Tomb Sweeping Day in Pictures

Chinese Culture: Tomb Sweeping Festival

 

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5th 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 arati (pronounced aar-tee), usually performed in front of either the baby Rama (represented by a doll) in a swinging cradle or a devotional picture showing this.

 

More Information:

 

About Hinduism: Ramnavami – Birthday of Lord Rama

Taj: Festivals – About Ram Navami
Mythic Maps: Ramnavami

Ramnavami: Greetings Cards

Hindupedia: 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:

 

Hanamatsuri – Buddha’s Birthday

Journal of Shin Buddhism: Hanamatsuri

Mythic Maps: Hanamatsuri

Photos and text for Hanamatsuri

Vatican Greetings to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh/Hanamatsuri

 

 

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9th April
HOLY WEEK

Christian (Western Churches)

 

9th – 16th 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:

 

Belief Net: Christian Holidays during Holy Week

Holy week in the Catholic Encyclopedia

Holy Week Activities for Kids

Images of Holy Week – for kids

Christianity Today: Articles on Holy Week

 

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9th April
PALM SUNDAY

Christian (Western Churches) (Orthodox date: 24 April)

 

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:

 

Catholic Online: Palm Sunday

Share Faith: Palm Sunday

Project Britain – Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday for Kids

Orthodox Christian Palm Sunday

 

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11th April
PASSOVER/PESACH

Jewish

 

11th – 18th April

 

This major Jewish festival lasts eight days and commemorates the liberation of the Children of Israel and their 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 11, 12) and the last two days (April 17, 18) are full festival days when, for Orthodox Jews, work is not permitted.

 

More Information:

 

Jewfaq: Pesach: Passover

Jewish Virtual Library: Passover – Pesach – History and Overview

Chabad: Passover

Passover in Pictures

Aish: Passover

 

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11th 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:

 

About Hinduism: Lord Hanuman

Hanuman Jayanti – Significance, History and How to Celebrate

Hindu Blog – Hanuman Jayanti

Desi Comments: Hanuman Jayanti in Pictures and Comments

Swaminaryan: Hanuman Jayanti

 

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13th 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 almost all 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:

 

Fisheaters: Maundy Thursday

What does ‘Maundy Thursday’ Mean?

Project Britain – Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday Poems – in Images

Christianity for Dummies: What is Maundy Thursday?

 

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13th April
SONGKRAN

Buddhist

Traditional New Year’s Day festival in Thailand, where containers of water are thrown as a symbol of washing away all that is evil. Fragrant herbs are often placed in the jug or bucket containing the water.

 

More information:

 

What is Songkran?

Things to know about the Thailand Water Festival – Songkran

Everything you need to know about Songkran in Thailand

Seventeen photographs of Songkran in Thailand

Songkran – National Holiday in Thailand/a>

 

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14th 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

Catholic Online: Good Friday

Project Britain: Good Friday (Holy Friday)

Anglican Prayers for Good Friday – an anthology

Jerusalem – The Way of the Cross

 

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14th April
VAISAKHI/BAISAKHI

Sikh

 

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 this is when he initiated both the Panj Piare and many others into the Khalsa, with men taking the name ‘Singh’ and women taking the name ‘Kaur’. Nowadays, early in the morning, many Sikhs are initiated by ‘taking amrit’, and so committing themselves to a discipline that includes daily prayers and the wearing of the external markers of Khalsa identity (the Five Ks). Outside each gurdwara the Nishan Sahib (the Sikh pennant) is ceremonially bathed on this day and then replaced on its flagpole.
 

More Information:

 

The Holiday Spot: Baisakhi

Sikhism Guide: Vaisakhi

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

Baisaki Greetings and Bangra Dancing

The Huffington Post: Vaisakhi

 

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15th 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:

 

The Voice: The Days of Holy Week

Fisheaters: Holy Saturday

BBC: Holy Week and Holy Saturday

Fisheaters: Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday – Quotes and Images

About Catholicism: Holy Saturday

 

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16th 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 chocolate 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:

 

What is Easter? What do Christians celebrate on Easter?

Fisheaters: Easter Sunday

Project Britain – My Easter, by James

The Meaning of Easter

Calendar Updates: Easter

 

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16th 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. In 2017 the Easter cycle dates coincide for Eastern and Western traditions.

 

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:

 

Orthodox Wiki: Pascha

Goarch: The Great and Holy Feast of Pascha

https://www.onfaith.co/a/holiday/pascha

https://Pascha in Images

Orthodox Research Institute: It is Pascha not Easter!

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20th April
RIDVAN

Baha’i

 

20th April – 1st 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 festival dates.) It is during this period that Baha’is elect their local, national and international governing bodies.

 

More Information:

Baha’i Library: Ridvan

About Alternative Religions: Ridvan

BBC Religions: Ridvan – History and Significance

The Ridvan Garden

Universal House of Justice – Annual Messages for Ridvan

 

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22nd 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

Images for Adar Mah Parab

Zoroastrian Places of Worship – Atash Bahram – Modern Fire Temples

 

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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:

 

Britannia History: St George

St George’s Day observed in Spain

Project Britain – St George’s Day

Google creates doodle to celebrate England’s patron saint

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

 

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24th 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. The date is chosen as the closest date (in the Jewish calendar) to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

More Information:

 

Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day

Reform Judaism: Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day/a>

How to talk to kids about the Holocaust

Yom Hashoah – Remembrance Day Siren in Israel

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

 

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24th April
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 Muslims believe the Prophet received the command that they 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:

 

Sunna Lessons: The Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascension

Essaouira: Lailat al Miraj

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

The Night Journey – the Prophet Muhammad’s Meeting with Allah

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

 

 

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28th April
NICHIREN AND THE CHANTING OF THE DAIMOKU

Buddhist

 

On 28th April 1253, at the age of 31, the Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren (born on Febuary 16th in 1222 CE in the east of Japan) first taught the mantra Nam myoho renge kyo to a small group at the Seichō-ji temple he had entered at the age of 20 in 1233. It was there he had set out to master all the Buddhist teachings available to him in Japan at that time. He came to believe that the profundity of the Lotus Sutra, which expounds the universal potential for Buddhahood, is expressed in this mantra. For Nichiren, the practice of chanting ‘Nam myoho renge kyo, (the daimoku) opens the path to inner transformation from which compassionate action for the happiness of self and others arises.

 

As a result of his radical teachings he met with several attacks from his opponents, including an illegal attempt to execute him, and was twice exiled. During his second exile on Sado Island (in 1272) he inscribed the first Gohonzon, a mandala written in characters which represents life in the balanced state of Buddhahood. The core practices undertaken by believers are a twice-daily recitation from the Lotus Sutra and the chanting of the daimoku in front of the Gohonzon. For Nichiren Buddhists the 28th April is a day of celebration and gratitude.

 

More information:

 

Nichiren Buddhism – an Overview

The Life of Nichiren – and much else

Nichiren Buddhism

Images for Gohonzon

Nichiren and Nichiren Buddhism

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30th April
MAY EVE / BELTAINE EVE

Wiccan/Pagan

 

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:

 

The Goddess and the Green Man

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

Spirit of Old – Beltaine

Newgrange: Beltane – The Fire Festival

Chalice Centre: May – Beltaine: The Return of Summer

 

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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:

 

The Goddess and the Green Man

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

Spirit of Old – Beltaine

Newgrange: Beltane – The Fire Festival

Chalice Centre: May – Beltaine: The Return of Summer

 

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2nd 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

Yom Ha’Atzma’ut Activities

Imagesfor Yom Ha’Atzmaut

BJ: Yom Ha’zikaron/Yom Ha’atzmaut

 

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10th May
VESAKHA PUJA / WESAK / BUDDHA DAY / BODHI DAY

Buddhist

 

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 Buddha Day celebrate both the birth and the enlightenment of the Buddha. They also celebrate his enlightenment on Bodhi Day in December. It is common in almost all Buddhist traditions to decorate the houses where Buddhists live with lanterns and garlands, and the 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:

 

Crystal Links: Wesak

Souled Out: The Significance of Wesak

BBC: Wesak

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

Souled Out: The Significance of Wesak

 

 

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12th May
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:

 

Travelling the world – Laylat ul Bara’ah

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

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

The Night of Bara’ah – in pictures

Islamic Board: Lailat al-Bara’ah

 

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14th 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 during the lifetime of Rabbi Akiva, and is often celebrated by out of door, fresh air activities. A large number of weddings take place on this day, since they are not usually permitted during most of the rest of the Omer period.

 

More Information:

 

Jewfaq: The Counting of the Omer

My Jewish Learning: Lag B’Omer

Chabad: Lag B’Omer

Lag B’Omer Customs

Aish: Counting the Omer

 

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14th May
CHRISTIAN AID WEEK

Christian

 

14th – 20th 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:

 

You Tube: This is Christian Aid

Durham Cathedral: Sermon – Christian Aid Week

Life and Work: A Prayer for Christian Aid Week

Meet our Neighbour – Morsheda – Watch the video

Christian Aid – Our Aims and Values

 

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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:

 

Baha’i teachings: declaration of the Bab on how religion begins

Mythic Maps: Anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab

Enable Me to Grow: Observing the Declaration of the Bab

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

Huffington Post: Enter the gate

 

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24th 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:

 

Zartosht no Diso – a History

I Love India: Festivals/Zartosht-no-diso Celebrations

Crystal Links: Zoroaster and Death

The Parsee Society: Images for Zartosht no diso

Zarathustra.com: The Life and Death of Zarathustra

 

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25th May
ASCENSION DAY (40th day after Easter)

Christian (40th day after Easter) Christian (Western Churches)

((The Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrates it on the following Sunday, 28 May.)

 

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

Amish America: How do Amish Observe Ascension Day?

Project Britain – Ascension Day

Bartleby: Quotations for Ascension Day

Time and Date: Ascension Day

 

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27th May
RAMADAN

Muslim

 

27th May to 25th June

 

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

 

The Muslim year is a lunar year which is about 11 days shorter than the solar year on which the Gregorian (British) calendar is based, so Ramadan occurs ten or eleven days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.

 

During the month of Ramadan Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. 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 young people still attempt to keep some, or even all of it.

 

For Muslims it is the holiest month of the year, 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 daylight, 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 the fast. Travellers and menstruating women 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:

 

Mkidwai Tripod: Facts of Ramadan – Fasting

BBC Religions: Islam – Ramadan

Ramadan for Kids

Ramadan in Pictures

Jannah: Ramadan – Articles, Resources and Activities for Kids

 

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28th 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:

 

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

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

Paintdrawer: Ascension of Baha’u’llah

You Tube: Ascension of Baha’u’llah

Good Reads – Quotations from Bahá’u’lláh

 

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30th May
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:

 

Travel China Guide: Dragon Boat Festival

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

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival for Chinese Children

Dragon Boat Festival in Pictures

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

 

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31st May
SHAVUOT / THE FEAST OF WEEKS / PENTECOST

Jewish

 

31st May – 1st June

 

Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, is a two day festival which falls seven weeks after Pesach. It celebrates the revelation of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai, and also marks the time when the first harvest was taken to the Temple. Synagogues are decorated with flowers and dairy foods are traditionally eaten. For Orthodox Jews work is not permitted throughout the festival.

 

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

 

More Information:

 

Reform Judaism: Shavuot

Jewish Facts: Shavuot

Torahtots – Shavuos

Chabad: Shavuot Recipes

About Judaism: Shavuot

 

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4th 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:

 

 

Fisheaters: Vigil of the Pentecost and Whitsunday

Patheos: What is Pentecost? Why Does It Matter?

What is Pentecost?

Watch ‘The Spirit of Pentecost’ – a short film

Explore Faith: Questions of Faith and Doubt – Pentecost

 

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4th 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.

 

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

Pentecost – the Descent of the Holy Spirit

Orthodox Pentecost in Images

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

 

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11th 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:

 

Church Year: Trinity Sunday

Fisheaters: Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday – a basic view

Trinity Sunday in Images

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

 

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15th 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 11 June this year). The day recalls the act of Jesus in instituting the celebration of Holy Communion.

 

More Information:

 

All Saints Belmont – sermon of Thanksgiving for the Holy Communion

New Apostolic Church International: Holy Communion

Anglican Communion – What do Anglicans Believe?

MHSJB Word Press: Corpus Chrisit In Germany

Can we provide Holy Communion over the Web?

 

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16th June
MARTYRDOM OF GURU ARJAN (1606)

Sikh

 

This gurpurb marks the day when the fifth Guru was put to death on the orders of the Moghul Emperor, Jehangir, for supporting his rival, Khusrau. Guru Arjan drew together compositions by the first five Gurus together with hymns by other ‘saint-poets’ and so compiled the Adi Granth (the Sikh scriptures). He also supervised the construction of the original temple where the Golden Temple, Amritsar, now stands. As with other gurpurbs, the day is preceded by an akhand path, a continuous reading of the scriptures. Traditionally, a cooling drink is distributed, recalling that the Guru was tortured in the extreme heat of June.

 

More Information:

 

Search Sikhism – Guru Arjan Dev

Sikh 24: Shaheedi of Guru Arjan Dev Jee

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

Fifth Sikh Guru – Guru Arjan Dev Ji Sahib

Sikhiwiki: Martyrdom of Guru Arjan

 

 

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18th 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:

 

New Advent: Feast of Corpus Christi

Time and date: Festival of Corpus Christi

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

Arundel Cathedral: Corpus Christi

Social Journalist: Corpus Christi is a Western Catholic Feast

 

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18th June
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 Centre – Lailat ul Qadr – Night of Power

Islamic Finder – Lailat ul Qadr

Win Calendar – Lailat-ul-Qadr

Sound Vision: Lailat ul Qadr

Duas: ‘Common’ A’amaal for Laylatul Qadr

 

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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:

 

Witchvox: Midsummer/Summer Solstice

Almanac – Summer Solstice

BBC: Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, in pictures

When is the Longest Day? When is the Shortest Day?

 

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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:

 

Witchvox: Midsummer/Summer Solstice

Almanac – Summer Solstice

BBC: Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, in pictures

When is the Longest Day? When is the Shortest Day?

 

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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:

 

iHumanism: World Humanism Day

World Huumanist Day

Secular Seasons – World Humanist Day

Images for World Humanist Day

World Humanist Day

 

 

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22nd June
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:

 

Lailatul Qadar – The Night of Power

Islamic Finder – Lailat ul Qadr

Win Calendar – Lailat-ul-Qadr

Duas: ‘Common’ A’amaal for Laylatul Qadr

 

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24th June
MIDSUMMER DAY

National

 

One of the four Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar

 

More Information:

 

Mysterious Britain: Midsummer’s Day

Celebrating the Swedish Way: Midsummer Day

Humour: Midsummer’s Day – June24th

Images for Midsummer’s Day

Britannica summarises Midsummer’s Eve

 

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25th 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 English term ‘juggernaut’ comes. Krishna is attended on his journey 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:

 

Rath Yatra – the Chariot Festival of Puri

ISKCON UK: Ratha Yatra – Festival of the Chariots

Harekrsna: The Ratha Yatra

Rath Yatra: The Chariot Festival of Puri, with photos

Swaminarayan: Rath Yatra

 

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26th June
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). Now 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:

 

Eid-al-Fitr – History and Interesting Facts about the Festival

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

Islamic City: Eid ul Fitr

My halal kitchen – the many varieties of food for Eid ul Fitr

The Huffington Post: Articles on Eid Ul Fitr

 

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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, to 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, and dance and make merry.

 

More Information:

 

Cais SOAS – Celebrations – Jashn-e-Tirgan

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

Zoroastrian Heritage – Tirgan

Images for Jashn-e-Tirgan

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

 

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8th July
ASALHA PUJA

Buddhist

 

8th – 15th 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

My Triple Blog: Asalha Puja Day

Asalha Puja in Pictures

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

 

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8th July
FRAVARDIGAN / MUKTAD

Zoroastrian

 

8th – 17th (Kadmi)

11th – 20th March (Iranian Zoroastrian)

 

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:

 

Muktad – When Souls Come-a-Visiting

Celebrating Muktad

Faiths Forum – Fravardigan/Muktad

Images for Fravardigan

What to do and pray during the Muktad
 

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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:

 

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

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

Martyrdom of the Bab – Baha’is recall remarkable events of 1850

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

Huffington Post – Martyrdom of the Bab

 

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13th July
O-BON

Japanese (in Japan – not Tokyo – see 13 August

 

13th – 15th July

 

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:

 

Go Japan: Japanese Festivals – O-bon

The Japan Guy: What is Obon?

Kids Web Japan; Bon Holidays

O-Bon in Pictures

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

 

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18th July
NAVROZE / NO RUZ

Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

 

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

Navroze Special – A Parsi Feast awaits you

India Opines: A Glimpse into Parsi Cuisine This Navroze

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

 

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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:

 

The birth and childhood of Haile Selassie I

Biography of Haile Selassie I

Mythic Maps – Birthday of Haile Selassie

Photos of Haile Selassie I

Brainy Quotes: Haile Selassie Quotes

 

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23rd July
KHORDAD SAL

Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

 

26th March Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

22th August Zoroastrian (Shenshai)

 

Khordad Sal is the Birthday of Zarathushtra and falls on the sixth day following NoRuz. Khordad means perfection and the festival of Khordad Sal symbolically celebrates the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra. 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:

 

Mango Salute: Khordad Sal – A Celebration of the Prophet Zarathustra

A History of Khordad Sal

Mythic Maps – Khordad Sal

Sakshigopal: Happy Khordad Sal! Birthday Day of Zoroaster!

Festivals advices – Khordad Sal – The Birthday of Zoroaster

 

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27th July
CHOKOR (also CHO KOR DU CHEN)

Buddhist

 

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:

 

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

Chokor du Chen – Buddha Multiplying Day

Mythic Maps: Chokor Duchen

Tibet Travel: Festivals – Chokor Duchen

Blogspot: Dream of my guru on Chokhor Duchen

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1st 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, while reflecting on the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Other tragedies in Jewish history are also recalled, many of which have coincidentally happened on this day. The Book of Lamentations is read at this time.

 

More Information:

 

The Laws of Tisha B’Av

Jewfaq: Tisha B’Av

Reform Judaism: Tishah B’Av

Tisha B’Av – the Ninth day of Av
My Jewish Learning: Tisha B’Av

 

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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:

 

The goddess and the green man – Lammas

Pagan/Wiccan: All About Lammas

The White Goddess: Lammas

Images for the Festival of Lammas

Mything Links: Lammas, Lughnasadh

 

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6th August
THE TRANSFIGURATION

Christian

 

19th August Julian Calendar

 

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 both 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 Transfiguration (Metamorphoses) of our Saviour

The Orthodox Church in America – The Transfiguration

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

Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

The Expository Files: The Transgfiguration

 

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7th 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. Different celebrations take place on this day in different parts of India. So, for example, in western Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, Hindus offer coconuts to the sea god, Lord Varuna and so the festival is called Nariyal Purnima, coconut full-moon.

 

More Information:

 

About Hinduism: Raksha Bandhan

Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India: Raksha Bandhan

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

Maps of India: Raksha Bandhan

Culture: Festivals – Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan)

 

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13th August
O-BON

Japanese (in Tokyo – for rest of Japan, see 13 July)

 

13th -15th August

 

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:

 

Go Japan: Japanese Festivals – O-bon

The Japan Guy: What is Obon?

Kids Web Japan; Bon Holidays

O-Bon in Pictures

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

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

Christian (Roman Catholic, Anglican)

 

28th August Dormition of the Mother of God – Christian (Orthodox) Julian Calendar

 

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

 

More Information:

 

Mary Pages: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Catholic Culture: The Assumption of Our Lady

Feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

About Catholicism: Assumption of Mary

Time and Date: Assumption of Mary

 

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15th 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:

 

Mangalore: Sri Krishna Jayanti

Festivals of India: Sri Krishna Jayanti/Krishnaastami
Mythic Maps: Janmashtami

Janmashtami in Pictures

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

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17th August
NAVROZE / NO RUZ

Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

 

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

Navroze Special – A Parsi Feast awaits you

India Opines: A Glimpse into Parsi Cuisine This Navroze

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

 

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19th August
THE TRANSFIGURATION

Christian, Julian Calendar

 

6th August 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 both 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 Transfiguration (Metamorphoses) of our Saviour

The Orthodox Church in America – The Transfiguration

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

Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

The Expository Files: The Transgfiguration

 

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19th August
PARYUSHAN

Jain

 

19th – 26th August

 

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

Colostate Education: Paryushana Parva

eJainism: Paryushan Parva

Images for Paryushan Parva

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

 

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22nd August
KHORDAD SAL

Zoroastrian (Shenshai)

 

26th March Zoroastrian (Iranian)

 

23th July Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

 

Khordad Sal is the Birthday of Zarathushtra and falls on the sixth day following NoRuz. Khordad means perfection and the festival of Khordad Sal symbolically celebrates the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra. 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:

 

Mango Salute: Khordad Sal – A Celebration of the Prophet Zarathustra

A History of Khordad Sal

Mythic Maps – Khordad Sal

Sakshigopal: Happy Khordad Sal! Birthday Day of Zoroaster!

Festivals advices – Khordad Sal – The Birthday of Zoroaster

 

 

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24th August
DHUL-HIJJAH

1st to 10th Dhul-Hijjah (Muslim)

 

24th August – 2nd September  

 

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:

 

The Blessed Days of Dhul Hijjah

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

The First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah: Days of Virtue and Righteous Deeds

Virtues of the First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah

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

 

 

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25th August
GANESH CHATURTHI (BIRTHDAY OF GANESH)

Hindu

 

Ganesh Chaturthi / Vinayaka Chaturthi is a Hindu festival in honour of Ganesh/Ganesha, (also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka), the god of good fortune and new beginnings. A popular story explains why Ganesha, the son of Parvati and Shiva, has the head of an elephant. 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

Go India: Guide to the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in India

Swaminarayan: Ganesh Chaturthi

Ashtavinayaka: Ganesh Chaturthi

 

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26th August
SAMVATSARI (INTERNATIONAL FORGIVENESS DAY)

Jain

 

This is the last day of Paryushana, which many regard as the most important eight or ten day festival of Jainism. It is the holiest day of the Jain calendar and many Jains observe a complete fast. The whole day is spent in prayers and contemplation, asking for forgiveness from others.

 

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

 

More Information:

 

Samvatsari – When jains purify themselves

Samvatsari, the climax of the festival of Paryushana Parva

Why do Jains say ‘michchhami-dukkadam’ and when do they say it?

Samvatsari Greetings Cards

Samvatsari – The Festival of Forgiveness

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28th 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

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

The Herd Boy and the Weaving Maid, and other Oriental Folk Tales

You Tube – The Cow Herd and the Weaving Maid and other stories

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

 

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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

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

The 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

Russian Orthodox Church: Dormition of the Holy Virgin

 

 

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31st August
HAJJ / PILGRIMAGE TO MAKKAH (8th to 12th Dhul-Hijjah)

Muslim

 

31st August – 4th September

 

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:

 

Hajj Fact Sheet

Islamic City: Hajj – The Journey of a Lifetime

Why do Millions Gather in Mecca Every Year?

Hajj in Pictures and Photos

The Guardian: World News – Hajj

 

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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:

 

Barnabas: God is a faithful gardener

Five British Harvest Traditions

Activity Village – Suggestions for the Harvest Festival

Images of Harvest Festival Celebrations

Send a Cow: Harvest Festival

 

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1st September
INSTALLATION OF THE GURU GRANTH SAHIB IN THE HARMANDIR SAHIB

Sikh

 

Amritsar 1604 CE

 

In 1604, in the place of worship where the Golden Temple now stands, the Sikhs’ fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, installed for the first time 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

Sikhism Guide: Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Sikh Scriptures, Images, Excerpts and Quotations

Gurbani Files: Sri Guru Granth Sahib – A Brief Introduction

 

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1st September
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:

 

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

Arab News: The Day of Arafat

Pilgrims throng Mount Arafat in Makkah

The Day of Arafat in Pictures and Photos

Arafat

 

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2nd September
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

Islamic Concern: Sacrifice and Eid ul Adha

Eid ul Adha for Schools

123 Greetings: Eid ul Adha

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

 

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4th 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

Muktad – When Souls Come-a-Visiting

Farvardegan day on Farvardin Roj, Farvardin Mah

Images for Fravardin Mah Parab

Farvardegan

 

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5th September
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:

 

About Chinese Culture: The Hungry Ghost Festival

About Mandarin: Ghost Month and Ghost Festival

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

Images of Hungry Ghosts

Bukit Brown: ‘Hungry Ghost Month’ – Reflections

 

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10th September
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 Shi‘a 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:

 

Islamic Occasions – Eid ul Ghadeer

The Ismaili: Eid-e Ghadir

Ziaraat: Significance of Eid-e-Ghadeer

Slide Share: Eid Alghadeer

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

 

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11th September
ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR’S DAY

Rastafarian

 

Ethiopian families love to celebrate their New Year, which they call Enqutatash, with presents and visits. Rastafarians throughout the world honour it too. They have a four year cycle, in which each year is named after an evangelist. This is the beginning of the year of Luke.

 

More Information:

 

The New Year is a happy time in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Calendar: Ethiopian New Year

Rastafarians celebrate Ethiopian New Year’s Day

Jamaican Rasta wishes you a Happy New Year

Rastafarian holy days now honoured in UK prisons

 

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20th September
HIGAN

Japanese

 

20th – 26th September HIGAN

23th 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:

 

Shuubun-no-Hi or Autumnal Equinox Day?

Kalamalama – Shubun no hi

Tokyo 5: Shubun no hi

Shubun no hi – cleaning the ancestral tombs

In Culture Parent: Happy O-Higan!

 

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21st September
ROSH HASHANAH (HEAD OF THE YEAR)

Jewish

 

21st – 22nd September

 

(New Year’s Day, 5778 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:

 

Jewfaq: Rosh Hashanah

Jewish Virtual Library: Rosh HaShana – History and Overview

Rosh Hashanah for Tiny Tots

Rosh Hashanah – Images and Pictures

About Judaism: Rosh Hashanah

 

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21st September
NAVARATRI

 

21st -29th September

 

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

Gujarat India: All about Gujarat – Navratri

Rudraksha: Navratri festival/Navratri puja

Photos celebrate the ending of Navratri

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

 

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22nd 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:

 

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

Mabon Rites and Rituals

The Celtic Connection: Mabon – by Akasha

Simple Wiccan Mabon Ritual

The Llewellyn Encyclopedia: Mabon Ritual

 

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22nd September
ISLAMIC NEW YEAR 1438 / 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 2015 CE the Muslim year 1437 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

Jakarta Post: Unique traditions mark Islamic New Year

BBC Religions: Al-Hijra – The Muslim New Year

Al Hijra Celebrations

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

 

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23rd September
SHUUBUN NO HI

Japanese

 

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:

 

Shuubun-no-Hi or Autumnal Equinox Day?

Kalamalama – Shubun no hi

Tokyo 5: Shubun no hi

Shubun no hi – cleaning the ancestral tombs

In Culture Parent: Happy O-Higan!

 

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26th September
DURGA PUJA

Hindu

 

26th – 30th September

 

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

Durga Puja in Photographs

Everything you need to know about Durga Puja in Kolkata

 

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29th 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

Are we ready to embrace the Michaelmas Goose once again?

Waldorf Homes Schools: Michaelmas Circle, Story and Resources

 

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30th September
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

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

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

Greetings Cards for Yom Kippur

Jewfaq: Yom Kippur

 

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30th September
DUSSEHRA / VIJAYA DASHAMI

Hindu

 

In north India the day after Navaratri is celebrated as the ‘victorious tenth’ (Vijaya Dashami) and huge figures of Ravana are filled with fireworks and burned on Ram Lila grounds (public areas). In the UK some temple congregations carry this out on a smaller scale.

 

More Information:

 

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

UCLA: Culture/Festivals/Dussehra

I love India – Dussehra

Dussehra in Images

Calendarlabs – Dussehra

 

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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

Fouman: Collective Iranian Culturbase – Mehregan

Cais/SOAS: Celebrations – The Festival of Mehregan

Anobanini: Mehrgan-Mihragan-Jashn-e Mehr

Historical Iran: Iranian Sites and People

 

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1st October
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:

 

About Islam: The Day of ‘Ashura

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

Ashura of Muharram – a Shia and Sunni Muslim Observance

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

Religion Facts: What is Ashura?

 

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2nd October
GANDHI JAYANTI

Hindu

 

Gandhi Jayanti is an Indian nation holiday that celebrates the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who is referred to as the ‘Father of the Nation’. He was the driving force behind the foundation of the state of India. His birthday is celebrated with services, prayers and painting and essay contests with topics that glorify peace and non-violence, and the singing of Gandhi’s favourite devotional song entitled ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ (Ram Dhun for short). The distribution of alcohol is banned on Gandhi Jayanti, as on other national holidays.

 

More information:

 

Festivals of India: Gandhi Jayanti

Speech in honour of Gandhi

Gandhi – Celebrations and Quotations

Gandhi – pictures and comments

Quotations from Mahatma Gandhi

 

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4th October
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

Wiki How: Enjoy a Chinese Moon Festival

China Highlights: Mid-Autumn Festival Stories

Chinese Child Book: Chinese Moon Festival Background

 

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5th October
SUKKOT

Jewish

 

5th – 12th October

 

An eightday harvest festival also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, which commemorates 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 and the last two days are full festival days when, for Orthodox Jews, work is not permitted.

 

More Information:

 

Jewish Virtual Library – Sukkot

Reform Judaism: Sukkot – Feast of Booths

A Succot Story for Children

Sukkot in Pictures and Photos

Jewfaq: Sukkot

 

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13th October
SIMCHAT TORAH

Jewish

 

This festival, which means ‘Rejoicing in the Torah’, 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:

 

About Judaism: Simchat Torah

Jewfaq: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah – Activities for Kids

Simchat Torah: Arts and Crafts

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

 

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16th October
INTER FAITH WEEK OF PRAYER FOR WORLD PEACE

 

16th – 23rd 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

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

Barnabas in Schools: Week of Prayer for World Peace

Images for World Peace and Prayer Day

Brahma Kumaris: Building Interfaith Bridges

 

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19th October
DIVALI / DEEPAVALI

Hindu

 

19th – 23rd October

 

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. For many Hindu business people Divali marks the beginning of a new financial year.

 

More Information:

 

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

Diwali – The festival of lights

Primary Homework Help: Diwali

Divali, the Festival of Lights – in Pictures

Nalis: The Origins of Divali

 

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19th 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 Dharma: Bandi Chhor Divas

Sikh Guru: Divali/Bandi Chhor Divas (Prisoner Release Day)

Storyboard of Sikh Divali

The Huffington Post: Bandi Chhor Divas

 

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19th 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. Jain business people traditionally start their accounting year from Divali.

 

More Information:

 

Jain Samaj: Jainism – Significance of Diwali in Jain Dharma

Huffington Post: A Jain Perspective on Diwali

Jain University: Diwali

Heena Modi: Jain Divali in pictures

Jagran Post: Special way of celebrating Diwali by Jains

 

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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:

 

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

Sikh Missionary Society: Sikhism-Takhts-Sri Hazoor Sahib

Sri-Guru Granth Sahib – Holy Book

Images of Conferring of Guruship on the Guru Granth Sahib

Structure of the Guru Granth Sahib

 

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21st 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:

 

Consecutive holy days celebrate the birth of the Bab and the birth of Baha’u’llah

Baha’i Blog: The Life of the Bab

Suggested Devotional Program for the Birth of the Bab

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

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

 

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22nd October
ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF BAHA’U’LLAH

Baha’i

 

Founder of the Baha’i faith, he was born the eldest son of a Persian nobleman in Tehran, Persia, in 1817.

 

More Information:

 

Wikipedia – Birth of Baha’u’llah

123 Holiday: Birth of Baha’u’llah

Baha’i Invitation: Birthof Baha’u’llah – The Lord of the Age – Who is Baha’u’llah?

Bahaullah.org: The Life of Baha’u’llah – A photographic narrative

Baha’i Blog: The Birth of Baha’u’llah and the Spirit of the Age

 

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24th October
PAVARANA DAY

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:

 

Buddhapadipa Temple: Pavarana Day

Buddha Space: Pavarana Day and ‘Buddha Space’

Buddhamind – Festivals: Pavarana

Pavarana Day in Pictures

Little Bang Word Press: Pavarana Day

 

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28th 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

Pictures for Kite Flying Day

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

 

 

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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

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:

 

The White Goddess: The Wheel of the Year/Samhain

About Pagnism/Wicca: Samhain History

Wicca – The Celtic Connection: Samhain

A Collection of Samhain Poetry

Inventors: The History of Halloween or 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:

 

Church Year: The Solemnity of All Saints Day

About Catholicism: All Saints Day

All Saints (or All Hallows) Celebration and Games

Images for All Saints Day

Spanish fiestas – 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:

 

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

All Souls Day

Images for All Souls Day

Fisheaters: All Souls Day

 

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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

The Coronation of Haile Selassie I

BBC: Religions/Rastafari/Beliefs/Haile Selassie

Photos of the Coronation of Haile Selassie I

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

 

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4th November
BIRTHDAY OF GURU NANAK

Sikh

 

1469 CE

 

Although the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, was born in April 1469, his birth anniversary (one of Sikhs’ most widely celebrated gurpurbs) is still generally celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month of Kartik. As is the case with other gurpurbs, an akhand path (a complete, unbroken reading of the Guru Granth Sahib) commences two days earlier so that it ends on the morning of the festival. Sikhs gather at the gurdwara for hymn-singing (kirtan) and to hear kathas (homilies) and share the langar (free meal). The gurdwara may be illuminated and street processions may take place too.

 

More Information:

 

Guru Nanak

Ten Interesting Facts about Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the Founder of Sikhism

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

Guru Nanak Jayanti in Photos

Times of India: Guru Nanak Jayanti

 

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4th November
LOY KRATONG

Buddhist

 

 

Loy Kratong is celebrated in most of the village and town temples in Thailand and often coincides with a temple’s Kathina Day. Degradable baskets are made and filled with carefully folded banana leaves, incense sticks, a candle and sometimes a coin. These are then launched on rivers, canals ponds or the sea, while a wish for good fortune is offered to the spirits of the water. Eels and turtles are sometimes liberated into the water at this time. Thai forest temples in the UK will not observe Loy Kratong.

 

More information:

 

Historical foundations of the festival of Loy Kratong

Loy Krathong in Contemporary Thailand

Thailand for Children – Loy Kratong

Loy Kratong and Yee Peng – baskets and lanterns that float away

Celebrating Loy Kratong in Bangkok

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12th November
REMEMBRANCE DAY

National

 

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

 

More Information:

 

History Extra: In focus – Remembrance Day Traditions

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

The British Legion: Remembrance Sunday

Poppies at the Tower of London

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

 

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14th 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

Kathina Ceremony: Historical and Spiritual Significance

Vipassana Research Institute: Anapana for Children

Anapanasati Day and Anapanasati Meditation

Anapanasati – Mindfulness with Breathing In and Out

 

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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:

 

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

Go Japan Go: Shichi-Go-San

Kids Web Japan: Schichi-go-san

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

Traditions and customs: Schichi-go-san

 

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24th November
MARTYRDOM OF GURU TEGH BAHADUR

Sikh

 

1675

 

As ordered by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, the ninth Guru was beheaded (in Sis Ganj, near Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi) for upholding Kashmiri Brahmins’ refusal to convert to Islam. These Hindus had turned to him for help and he had told them to inform Aurangzeb that they would convert if the Guru converted. Guru Tegh Bahadur is honoured for sacrificing his head (sir) rather than his faith (sis) for the religious freedom of those of a different religious persuasion from himself.

 

More Information:

 

Sikh Missionary Society: The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur

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

Ten Quotes of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Guru Tegh Bahadur Shabads

Patshahi 10: Who killed Guru Tegh Bahadur?

 

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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:

 

Time and Date: St Andrew’s Day in the UK

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

Activity Village – St Andrew’s Day

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

The Scotsman: St Andrew’s Day – History, Date and Traditions

 

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30th November
ASALHA PUJA

Buddhist

 

30th November (or 15th 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

 

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1st December
THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S BIRTHDAY / MILAD UN NABI (12th Rabi’ul-Awwal)

Muslim (Sunni)

 

Observed by 17th Rabi’ Al-Awwal – (though Nizari Ismaili Shi‘a Muslims who are followers of the Aga Sunni Muslims on 12th Rabi’ Al-Awwal, and by the majority of Shi’a Muslims five days later on Khan celebrate this on the same date as Sunnis, whereas Dawoodi Bohra Ismailis celebrate at the same time as other Shi’a).

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 observe 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:

Islamic Supreme Council – Mawlid un Nabi

Celebrating Mawlid un Nabi – any proof?

BBC Milad un Nabi

Mawlid al Nabi – through festival cards

Milad un Nabi – Legal and Religious Status

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3rd December
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:

 

Why Christmas: The Tradition of Advent

Living Hope: The meaning of the Advent Wreath

Project Britain – Advent Day

The Christian Celebration of Advent

The Celebration of Advent in the Church of England

 

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6th December
THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S BIRTHDAY / MILAD UN NABI (17th Rabi’ul-Awwal)

Muslim (Shi‘a)

 

Observed by 17th Rabi’ Al-Awwal – (though Nizari Ismaili Shi‘a Muslims who are followers of the Aga Sunni Muslims on 12th Rabi’ Al-Awwal, and by the majority of Shi’a Muslims five days later on Khan celebrate this on the same date as Sunnis, whereas Dawoodi Bohra Ismailis celebrate at the same time as other Shi’a).

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 observe 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:

Islamic Supreme Council – Mawlid un Nabi

Celebrating Mawlid un Nabi – any proof?

BBC Milad un Nabi

Mawlid al Nabi – through festival cards

Milad un Nabi – Legal and Religious Status

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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

About Catholicism: What is the Immaculate Conception?

BBC Religions: The Immaculate Conception

Mary’s Immaculate Conception

New Advent: Immaculate Conception

 

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8th December
BODHI DAY

Buddhist

 

Buddhists around the world celebrate Gautama’s attainment of Enlightenment on this day under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, in Northern India. Many consider this to be the most sacred of holy places as the birth place of their tradition. Bodhi Day is celebrated in many mainstream Mahayana traditions including Zen and in Pureland Buddhist schools in China, Japan and Korea. Buddhists commemorate this day by meditating, studying the Dharma, chanting sutras (Buddhist texts) and performing kind acts toward other beings. Some celebrate by a traditional meal of tea, cakes and readings.

 

More information:

How to Celebrate Bodhi Day

Belief.net: Beginners Heart – Happy Bodhi Day

Family Dharma Connection: Happy Bodhi Day

Images for Bodhi Day

Bodhi Day marks the Buddha’s Enlightenment

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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:

 

United Nations Human Rights: What are human rights?

OHCHR: United Nations/Human Rights

NRCAT – Torture is a Moral Issue: Sign the Statement

Images for Human Rights Day

Quotes about Human Rights

 

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13th December
HANUKAH

Jewish

 

13th – 20th December

 

Hanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights, which 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/here’.

 

More Information:

 

About Judaism: What is Hanukkah?

Images for Hanukah

Torahtots – Fun games: Hanukah

History of Hanukah

History of Hanukah

Jewfaq: Chanukkah

 

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21st December
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:

 

Wicca: The Winter Solstice – Yule Lore

Pagan/Wiccan: All About Yule

Why Christmas: Customs – The History of the Yule Log

Images for Yule Cards

You Call it Christmas, We Call it Yule

 

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22nd December
YULE

(archaic form Geola, pronounced Yula) Wiccan Pagan

 

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:

 

Wicca: The Winter Solstice – Yule Lore

Pagan/Wiccan: All About Yule

Why Christmas: Customs – The History of the Yule Log

Images for Yule Cards

You Call it Christmas, We Call it Yule

 

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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:

 

Fish Eaters: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

BBC Religion: The Story of Christmas

Project Britain – Christmas Eve Traditions

Traditional Christmas Songs

Why Christmas: Christmas Eve Traditions and Customs

 

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25th December
CHRISTMAS DAY

Christian (see also 6/7 January 2018)

 

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

Anno Mundi: The True Meaning of Christmas

Office Holidays: Christmas Day

More Images for Christmas Day

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 Prophet Zarathushtra and is a sorrowful occasion. Tradition records that 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:

 

Zartosht no Diso – a History

I Love India: Festivals/Zartosht-no-diso Celebrations

Crystal Links: Zoroaster and Death

The Parsee Society: Images for Zartosht no diso

Zarathustra.com: The Life and Death of Zarathustra

 

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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:

 

Kidzworld: Omisoka – Japanese New Year

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

Japan – Kidsweb: Omisoka – Ushering in the New Year

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:

 

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

Rampant Scotland – Hogmanay

Hogmanay-top-facts

British Food and Drink: Hogmanay

History of New-years

 

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