Cultural Holy & Holidays Mindfulness Calendar
Cultural Holy & Holidays Mindfulness Calendar
The UCCS Mindfulness Calendar includes a listing of Religious and Cultural Holy Days and Holidays. This resource is meant to help promote awareness and share information. This is not exhaustive of all major Holy Days in every religious tradition and some variances of dates will exist due to regional differences. The UCCS community is encouraged to find opportunities to learn about and honor identities and cultures year-round as a part of our commitment to advancing inclusive belonging.
January Holy Days & Holidays
Lunar New Year
Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Festivities last until the following full moon. The origin and traditions of the Lunar New Year. The holiday is sometimes called the Lunar New Year because the dates of celebration follow the phases of the moon. Since the mid-1990s people in China have been given seven consecutive days off work during the Chinese New Year. This week of relaxation has been designated Spring Festival, a term that is sometimes used to refer to the Chinese New Year in general. Learn More
February Holy Days & Holidays
Chinese Lantern Festival
On the 15th day of the first lunar month, two weeks after Chinese New Year, another important traditional Chinese festival, the Chinese Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie or Yuanxiao Festival (元宵节), is celebrated. It marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New year (Spring Festival) period. Learn More.
This is a Mahayana Buddhist festival that marks the death of the Buddha. It is also known as Nirvana Day. Buddhists celebrate the death of the Buddha, because they believe that having attained Enlightenment he achieved freedom from physical existence and its sufferings. Buddhists celebrate Parinirvana Day by meditating or by going to Buddhist temples or monasteries. As with other Buddhist festivals, celebrations vary throughout the world. Learn More.
Lailat al Miraj
Lailat al Miraj is a Muslim holiday that commemorates the Prophet Muhammad’s nighttime journey from Mecca to the ‘Farthest Mosque’ in Jerusalem where he ascended to heaven, was purified, and given the instruction for Muslims to pray five times daily. On the Islamic calendar, Lailat al Miraj (also known as Isra and Mi’raj, Al Isra’wal Miraj or Laylat al Miraj) is generally observed on the 27th day of the month of Rajab. Lailat al Miraj 2011 falls on June 29, although the observance begins at sundown on June 28. Learn More.
Mahashivratri, “The Great Night of Shiva” is the most significant event in India’s spiritual calendar. The fourteenth day of every lunar month or the day before the new moon is known as Shivratri. Among all the twelve Shivratris that occur in a calendar year, Mahashivratri, the one that occurs in February-March is of the most spiritual significance. On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. It is to make use of this, that in this tradition, we established a certain festival which is nightlong. To allow this natural upsurge of energies to find their way, one of the fundamentals of this nightlong festival is to ensure that you remain awake with your spine vertical throughout the night. Learn More.
Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person's forehead, he speaks the words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Learn More.
Lent is a period of 40 days during which Christians remember the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus Christ, whose life and teachings are the foundation of Christianity. The 40-day period is called Lent after an old English word meaning 'lengthen'. This is because of the time of year when it happens, as this is when the days start to get longer, as we approach Summer. It is a time of reflection and of asking for forgiveness, and when Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus's resurrection at the feast of Easter, which comes at the very end of Lent. Learn More.
March Holy Days & Holidays
The Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). Purim 2024 begins on Saturday night, March 23 and continues through Sunday, March 24 (extending through Monday in Jerusalem). It commemorates the (Divinely orchestrated) salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian empire from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” Literally “lots” in ancient Persian, Purim was thus named since Haman had thrown lots to determine when he would carry out his diabolical scheme, as recorded in the Megillah. Learn More.
Sha’ban, also referred to as Laylat al-Bara’ah, Laylat an-Nisf min Sha’ban, and Shab-e-Barat. The importance of the 15th night of Sha’ban is a subject of debate among Muslims. Some celebrate the night with special prayers and fast the following day, while others say that this practice is not from the Sunnah. Learn More.
Holi is considered as one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India and it is celebrated in almost every part of the country. It is also sometimes called as the “festival of love” as on this day people get to unite together forgetting all resentments and all types of bad feeling towards each other. The great Indian festival lasts for a day and a night, which starts in the evening of Purnima or the Full Moon Day in the month of Falgun. It is celebrated with the name Holika Dahan or Choti Holi on first evening of the festival and the following day is called Holi. In different parts of the country it is known with different names. Learn More.
Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer for Muslims, the followers of Islam. It is celebrated as the month during which Muhammad received the initial revelations of the Quran, the holy book for Muslims. Fasting is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam. Each day during Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to sunset. They are also supposed to avoid impure thoughts and bad behavior. Muslims break their daily fasts by sharing meals with family and friends, and the end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day festival known as Eid al-Fitr, one of Islam’s major holidays. Ramadan always falls on the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic calendar. Learn More
April Holy Days & Holidays
Palm Sunday is a Christian holiday that occurs on the Sunday before Easter. This celebration commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mentioned in each of the four Gospels. Jesus entered the city knowing He would be tried and crucified and welcomed His fate to rise from the grave and save us from sin! Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the remembrance of Jesus' last days. Learn More.
Passover is celebrated by Jews every year, commemorating the anniversary of the exodus from Egyptian slavery. On the first two nights of Passover (just the first night in Israel), a Seder is held. A ritual-rich 15-step feast, which centers around telling the story of the Exodus. Passover lasts for 8 days in the Diaspora and 7 days in Israel. Learn More.
Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, is the Christian day to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and His death at Calvary. This Christian holiday is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday, and Black Friday. Learn More.
Easter is one of the central holidays, or Holy Days, of Christianity. It honors the Resurrection of Jesus three days after His death by crucifixion. For many Christian churches, Easter is the joyful conclusion to the Lenten season of devoted prayer, fasting and penitence. Learn More.
The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. When the actual date of Yom Hashoah falls on a Friday, the state of Israel observes Yom Hashoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday, Yom Hashoah is observed on the following Monday. In the United States, Days of Remembrance runs from the Sunday before Yom Hashoah through the following Sunday. Learn More.
Laylat al-Qadr is the Islamic festival that commemorates the night on which God first revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. It is believed to have taken place on one of the final 10 nights of Ramadan in 610 CE, though the exact night is unclear. The date of the annual commemoration thus varies throughout the Islamic world but is most commonly observed on the 23rd night of Ramadan for Shi'i Muslims and on the 27th for Sunni Muslims. Learn More.
Eid al-Fitr occurs at the end of Ramadan. After an entire month of fasting and extra prayer, Muslims are sad to bid Ramadan and its spiritual atmosphere good-bye, but also excited to celebrate their efforts with a holiday. The festivities begin early on Eid day with the traditional takbeerat and communal prayers. Celebrants show up in their loveliest clothing to pray together, embrace all of their friends, and wish each other “Eid mubarak.” After Eid prayer, specific ways of celebrating vary across a plethora of Muslim cultures, but whether it’s knafeh or donuts, you can be sure that there will be lots of feasting on delicious foods, exchanging gifts, and quality time spent together with family and community. Learn More.
"Vesak", the Day of the Full Moon in the month of May, is the most sacred day to millions of Buddhists around the world. It was on the Day of Vesak two and a half millennia ago, in the year 623 B.C., that the Buddha was born. It was also on the Day of Vesak that the Buddha attained enlightenment, and it was on the Day of Vesak that the Buddha in his eightieth year passed away. Learn More.
Shavuot also called Pentecost, second of the three Pilgrim festivals of the Jewish religious calendar. It was originally an agricultural festival, marking the beginning of the wheat harvest. During the Temple period, the first fruits of the harvest were brought to the Temple, and two loaves of bread made from the new wheat were offered. This aspect of the holiday is reflected in the custom of decorating the synagogue with fruits and flowers and in the names Yom ha-Bikkurim (“Day of the First Fruits”) and Ḥag ha-Qazir (“Harvest Feast”).Learn More.
June Holy Days & Holidays
Hajj, also spelled ḥadjdj or hadj, in Islam, the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, which every adult Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime. The hajj is the fifth of the fundamental Muslim practices and institutions known as the Five Pillars of Islam. The pilgrimage rite begins on the 7th day of Dhū al-Ḥijjah (the last month of the Islamic year) and ends on the 12th day. Learn More.
This Eid occurs during the Hajj season and commemorates the sacrifices and devotion of Abraham (peace be upon him) and his family. Eid al-Adha coincides with the Hajj pilgrimage, where pilgrims from around the world follow the rituals of Abraham, like circling the Ka’bah (the Grand Mosque in Makkah) which he originally built. Eid al-Adha also reminds us of the devotion of Abraham and his son Ishmael as they surrendered themselves to God’s Will and, as a result, were beautifully rewarded. Learn More.
July Holy Days & Holidays
Hijri New Year
The Islamic new year, or the Hijri new year, marks the start of the Muslim lunar calendar. The calendar has been observed for more than 1,440 years and is used to date important Muslim events including the beginning of Ramadan (month of fasting), Eid al-Fitr and the start of the Hajj pilgrimage. Learn More.
Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av (which month coincides with July and/or August), is the major day of communal mourning in the Jewish calendar. Although a large number of disasters are said to have befallen the Jews on this day, the major commemoration is of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. and 70 C.E., respectively. Central to the observance of this day is fasting. Learn More.
August Holy Days & Holidays
September Holy Days & Holidays
Day of Arbaeen
The Day of Arbeen marks forty days after the Day of Ashura, the day Hussain ibn Ali was killed in the Battle of Karbala. Hussain ibn Ali was a 7th century revolutionary leader who sacrificed their life for social justice. The Arbaeen translates to forty. The traditional period of mourning in Islamic culture. Learn More.
Janmashtami is one of the most revered religious festivals of Hindus in India. Lord Krishna is considered to have a unique personality for; he reciprocates his devotees who show him love and devotion in an exceptional way. He is believed to be the manifestation of the most mischievous but the most adorable son, the most trustworthy friend and the most passionate lover. Major celebrations of Krishna Janmashtami takes place at midnight as it is believed that Lord Krishna is said to have made his divine appearance in that hour of the day. Fasting, Bhajans, pujas and many other rituals mark the celebrations of Krishna Janmashtami in India. Learn More.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one of Judaism’s holiest days. Meaning “head of the year” or “first of the year,” the festival begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, which falls during September or October. Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the two “High Holy Days” in the Jewish religion. Learn More.
Pitru Paksha is a 16-day ritual observed in Hinduism to pay obeisance to the souls of those who have departed for their heavenly abode. Pitru Paksha is a mourning period that is marked by many pujas, rituals, and daan activities. It's said that paying homage to the departed soul during Pitru Paksha helps them attain liberation or moksha. Learn More
October Holy Days & Holidays
Sharad Navratri, Navratri also spelled Navaratri, in Hinduism, major festival held in honour of the divine feminine. Navratri occurs over 9 days during the month of Ashvin, or Ashvina. It often ends with the Dussehra (also called Vijayadashami) celebration on the 10th day. In some parts of India, Dussehra is considered a focal point of the festival, making it effectively span 10 days instead of 9. Additionally, as Navratri depends on the lunar calendar, in some years it may be celebrated for 8 days, with Dussehra on the 9th. There are four similar festivals, also called Navratri, which are held at various stages of the year. However, the early autumn festival, also called Sharad Navratri, is the most significant. It begins on the same day as Durga Puja, a 10-day festival devoted to the victory of the goddess Durga, which is particularly celebrated in certain eastern states. Learn More.
Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish faith. Falling in the month of Tishrei (September or October in the Gregorian calendar), it marks the culmination of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. According to tradition, it is on Yom Kippur that God decides each person’s fate, so Jews are encouraged to make amends and ask forgiveness for sins committed during the past year. The holiday is observed with a 25-hour fast and a special religious service. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are known as Judaism’s “High Holy Days.” Yom Kippur 2022 begins on the evening of Tuesday, October 4 and ends on the evening of Wednesday, October 5. Learn More.
Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami or “the day of victory,” comes after the nine nights of Navratri. Sadhguru talks about the significance of the auspicious tenth day and how this occasion can bring success and victory into our life. A cultural festival of great importance and significance for all. It is a festival that is all about the goddess. In Karnataka, Dussehra is about Chamundi, in Bengal it is about Durga. Like this, it is about various goddesses in different places, but essentially it is about the feminine goddess or the feminine divinity. Learn More.
Mawlid or Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif (مَولِد النَّبِي mawlidu n-nabiyyi, "Birth of the Prophet", sometimes simply called in colloquial Arabic مولد mawlid, mevlid, mevlit, mulud among other vernacular pronunciations; sometimes ميلاد mīlād) is the observance of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad which is commemorated in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. 12th Rabi' al-awwal is the accepted date among most of the Sunni scholars, while Shi'a scholars regard 17th Rabi' al-awwal as the accepted date. Learn More.
Beginning five days after Yom Kippur Sukkot is named after the booths or huts (sukkot in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration. According to rabbinic tradition, these flimsy sukkot represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after escaping from slavery in Egypt. The festival of Sukkot is one of the three great pilgrimage festivals (chaggim or regalim) of the Jewish year. Learn More.
Diwali, the festival of lights is indeed the most awaited and the most celebrated festivals of India. People in every nook and cranny of the country welcome the festival with enthusiastic gestures. This wonderful festival is the celebration of five days. On the third day of the celebratory occasion, the key rituals of the Diwali festival take place. Lighting of Diyas and candles all around the house, worshipping the Laxmi Ganesha to summon health and wealth and bursting crackers are the chief rituals of the festival. Learn More.
Dia de los Muertos
The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31-November 2. While October 31 is Halloween, November 2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of children can rejoin their families for 24 hours. The spirits of adults can do the same on November 2. Learn More.
November Holy Days & Holidays
All Saints Day
All Saints’ Day, also called All Hallows’ Day, Hallowmas, or Feast of All Saints, in the Christian church, a day commemorating all the saints of the church, both known and unknown, who have attained heaven. It is celebrated on November 1 in the Western churches and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Eastern churches. In Roman Catholicism, the feast is usually a holy day of obligation. Learn More.
December Holy Days & Holidays
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is celebrated on December 12. For Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as well as other Latinos, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a powerful symbol of devotion, identity, and patriotism. Her image inspires artists, activists, feminists and the faithful. Learn More.
Las Posadas, (Spanish: “The Inns”) religious festival celebrated in Mexico and some parts of the United States between December 16 and 24. Las Posadas commemorates the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth to Jesus. When they were unable to find lodging in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were forced to seek shelter in a stable, where the Christ Child was born. Learn More.
The eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah or Chanukah commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in November or December. Hanukkah 2022 begins on the evening of Sunday, December 18 and ends on the evening of Monday, December 26. Often called the Festival of Lights. Learn More.
Christmas is celebrated on 25 December. It is a holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who, according to the Christian religion, is the son of God. The name is a joining of “Christ” and “mass” which means the holy mass (supper, celebration or festival) of Christ. Learn More.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of the week-long holiday. Learn More.