Multicultural Religious Calendar

If there is a religious holiday missing from the list below, please send an email to uhcdi@central.uh.edu with the subject “Multicultural Religious Calendar Addition” and information about the holiday. We appreciate your assistance in ensuring our calendar is as comprehensive as possible.


January 2016

January 1

TEMPLE DAY • Buddhist
Many Buddhists of all traditions pay their respects and pray for good fortune for the new year at the temple.

January 17

WORLD RELIGION DAY • Bahá’í
Observance to proclaim the oneness of religion and the belief that world religion will unify the peoples of the earth.

January 18

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S BIRTHDAY
The birthday of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated on the third Monday in January.

January 18-22

NO NAME-CALLING WEEK
Annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling and bullying of all kinds.

January 27

UN HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY
Annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust coinciding with the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945.


February 2016

February Full Month BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Celebrates Black History and African American culture in the United States.

February 8

LUNAR NEW YEAR
On this day Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Year are celebrated

February 9

SHROVE TUESDAY • Western Christian
A day of penitence as well as the last chance to feast before Lent begins. Also known as Mardi Gras.

February 10

ASH WEDNESDAY • Western Christian
The first day of Lent for Western Christian churches, a 40-day period of spiritual preparation for Easter, not counting Sundays.

February 15

NIRVANA DAY • Buddhist
Celebrates the day when the historical Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, upon the death of his physical body. Sometimes celebrated on February 8.

February 26 – March 1

AYYÁM-I-HA OR INTERCALARY DAYS • Bahá’í
The Ayyám-i-ha, or “Days of Ha” are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, celebrating, hospitality, charity and gift giving. They are celebrated the four days, five in leap year, before the last month of the Bahá’í year.


March 2016

NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
Honors women as significant agents of historical change.

March 2 – March 20

NINETEEN-DAY FAST • Bahá’í
Baha'is between 15 and 70 years of age do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset and set aside time for prayer and meditation.

March 8

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women worldwide.

March 8

MAHA SHIVARATRI • Hindu
Also called Shiva Ratri, it is the Great Festival of Shiva.

March 17

ST. PATRICK’S DAY • Christian
Feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. In the U.S., a secular version is celebrated by people of all faiths through appreciation of all things Irish.

March 20

VERNAL EQUINOX
The date when night and day are nearly the same length. It marks the first day of the season of spring.

March 21

NOWRÚZ • Zoroastrian
A traditional ancient Iranian festival celebrating the first day of Spring and the Iranian New Year. Also celebrated as New Year’s Day in Baha’i tradition (Naw-Ruz).

March 21

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Call to action to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination worldwide.

March 23

HOLI • Hindu
Also called Holaka or Phagwa, this festival celebrates spring and commemorates various events in Hindu mythology.

March 23

MAGHA PUJA • Buddhist
Also known as Sangha Day, it commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 arahants, completely enlightened monks, in the historical Buddha's presence.

March 24

HOLY THURSDAY • Christian
Also known as Maundy Thursday, it is celebrated on the Thursday before Easter commemorating the Last Supper, at which Jesus and the Apostles were together for the last time before the Crucifixion.

March 24

PURIM • Jewish
The “Feast of Lots” marks the salvation of the Jews of ancient Persia from extermination.

March 25

GOOD FRIDAY • Christian
Known as Holy Friday in Eastern Christianity, it commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus on the Friday before Easter/Pascha.

March 27

EASTER • Christian
Known as Pascha in Eastern Christianity, it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

March 31

CESAR CHAVEZ DAY
Honors Mexican American farm worker, labor leader and activist Cesar Chavez (1927–1993) who was a nationally respected voice for social justice.


April 2016

April 15

RAMA NAVAMI • Hindu
Celebrates the birthday of Rama, king of ancient India, hero of the epic Ramayana, and seventh incarnation of Vishnu.

April 15

DAY OF SILENCE
Students take a day-long vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment

April 22-23

THERAVADA NEW YEAR • Buddhist
In Theravada countries the New Year is celebrated on the first full moon day in April.

April 23–30

PASSOVER/PESACH • Jewish
The eight-day “Feast of Unleavened Bread” celebrates Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage.


May 2016

ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Recognizes the contributions and celebrates the culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

May 5

YOM HASHOAH • Jewish
“Holocaust Remembrance Day” memorializes the heroic martyrdom of six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust.

May 5

CINCO DE MAYO
In 1862 Mexican forces defeated French occupational forces in the Battle of Puebla.

May 15

BUDDHA DAY • Buddhist
Also known as Vesak or Visakha Puja, it marks the occasion of the birth, spiritual awakening and death of the historical Buddha.

May 15

PENTECOST • Christian
Also known as Whitsunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter/Pascha commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and women followers of Jesus. Marks the birth of the Christian Church

May 22

NISF SHA’BAN • Islamic
“Night of Repentance” in preparation for the fast of Ramadan. Fixed as the 15th day or middle (nisf) of the eighth month of Shabaan in the Islamic calendar.

May 23

DECLARATION OF THE BAB • Bahá’í
Commemoration of May 23, 1844, when the Báb, the prophet-herald of the Bahá’í Faith, announced in Shíráz, Persia, that he was the herald of a new messenger of God.

May 30

MEMORIAL DAY
Initiated originally to honor the dead of the Civil War, this observance now pays homage to the dead of all U.S. wars.


June 2016

LGBT PRIDE MONTH
Commemorates the anniversary of the June 28, 1969 Stonewall riot in New York City, the incident that initiated the modern gay rights movement in the United States. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Pride Day is the last Sunday in June.

June 6 – July 5

RAMADAN • Islamic
A month of strict fasting from dawn until dusk in honor of the first revelations of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad.

June 12 – 13

SHAVUOT • Jewish
The “Feast of Weeks” celebrates the covenant established at Sinai between God and Israel, and the revelation of the Ten Commandments.

June 19

JUNETEENTH
Originally commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, it is now celebrated throughout the U.S. to honor African-American freedom and achievement.

June 26

ALL SAINTS DAY • Eastern Christian
In Orthodox churches observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost, it commemorates all known and unknown Christian saints.


July 2016

July 4

INDEPENDENCE DAY
Anniversary of the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776.

July 6

EID AL-FITR • Islamic
The “Feast of the Breaking of the Fast” marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting from dawn until dusk.

July 19

DHARMA DAY • Buddhist
Also known as Asala Puja, it commemorates the historical Buddha's first discourse following his spiritual awakening.

July 26

ADA (AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT) DAY
Commemorates the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities.


August 2016

August 9

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Celebrates the richness of indigenous cultures and recognizes the challenges indigenous peoples face today, ranging from poverty and disease to dispossession, discrimination and denial of basic human rights.

August 15

OBON • Buddhist
Also known as Bon, the Japanese Buddhist festival honors the spirits of past ancestors.

August 23

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE SLAVE TRADE AND ITS ABOLITION
Memorializes the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, coinciding with the anniversary of the uprising in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that initiated its abolition.


September 2016

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 5

LABOR DAY (USA and Canada)
The first Monday in September is celebrated with picnics and parades honoring workers in the two countries.

September 8

INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
Call to action for universal literacy.

September 11 – 14

EID AL-ADHA • Islamic
The “Feast of Sacrifice” concludes the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), and is a three-day festival recalling Ibrahim‟s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.

Sep. 11

PATRIOT DAY (USA)
In honor of the event of 9-11.

September 16

MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
Commemorates the 1810 revolution that ended Spanish dictatorship. The Independence Day festivities in Mexico begin at midnight on the day of the holiday. At that time, in villages, towns, and cities all over Mexico, the people gather at the “zocalo” or public square. There are bands playing and people throw confetti and wave flags. At midnight the president (or in mall towns a local public official) reads the “Grito de Dolores” of Father Hidalgo, the organizer and principal leader of the rebellion against the Spaniards. The people chant the “Grito” after the president. He then rings the independence bell as fireworks light up the sky and the dancing and singing continues.

September 23

NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN DAY (USA)
Not an official government holiday, however most American Indian organizations and tribes do observe this holiday.


October 2016

Italian-American Heritage Month
Filipino American Heritage Month
Polish American Heritage Month

LGBT HISTORY MONTH
Marks and celebrates the lives and achievements of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people in the United States.

October 3 – 4

ROSH HASHANAH • Jewish
Beginning of the Jewish New Year and first of the High Holy Days, which marks the beginning of a ten-day period of penitence and spiritual renewal.

October 10

COLUMBUS DAY (USA)
Recognizes the encounter of the New World in 1492 by Christopher Columbus

October 10

NATIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S DAY
In 1992, drums from across the USA and time zones coordinated ceremonies and observances at 12 p.m. to celebrate and honor 500 years of resistance and the survival of North American Indigenous people. From that day to present Native Americans observe Indigenous People’s Day, not Columbus Day.

October 11

NATIONAL COMING OUT (USA)
October 11, 1987, half a million people marched on Washington for gay and lesbian equality. This was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital and the first display of the NAMES Projects Quilt, remembering those who have died from AIDS. The momentum continued four months after this march as more than 100 gay, lesbian, and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Virginia, about 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the GLBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary to that march on Washington to mark it.

October 12

YOM KIPPUR • Jewish
Celebrated by the Jewish as the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, also known as the Day of Atonement and is observed with strict fasting and ceremonial repentance.

October 30

DIWALI • Hindu
Celebrates the festival of lights, the most colorful and popular festival celebrated with great fervor by Hindu, Janis, and Sikhs. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.

October 31 – Nov. 2

EL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (All Saints Day)
Is a national holiday in Mexico and is also celebrated in parts of the USA. Mexicans regard this annual holiday as a happy occasion that reunites them with the souls of loved ones. This two-day celebration honors the souls of dead children on 11/1 and Honors the souls of older relatives and friends on 11/2. Families decorate tombs in the graveyard and home altars with toys, favorite foods, flowers, bread figures, incense burners, and elaborately fashioned candlesticks. On the morning of the second day people gather in graveyards and serenade the spirits with brass bands and mariachi music. The dead are never forgotten because once a year they are honored during this annual holiday.


November 2016

National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
Latin American Month

November 11

ARMISTICE DAY
Celebrated on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to commemorate the ending of the First World War that ended in 1918. Also known as Veterans’ Day which Honors the U. S. Armed Services and commemorates the war dead.

November 14-20

AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK
Celebrates public education and honors individuals who are making a difference in ensuring every child in the U.S. receives a quality education.

November 20

TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
Memorializes those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

November 24

THANKSGIVING (USA)

November 27

ADVENT SUNDAY • Christian
Advent is a season of spiritual preparation in observance of the birth of Jesus. In Western Christianity, it starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In Eastern Christianity, the season is longer and begins in the middle of November.


December 2016

December 1

World AIDS Day
Annual day of recognition of AIDS-to remember those who have died, to acknowledge the need for continued commitment to care for those who are HIV/AIDS positive and to support the research to find a cure.

December 13

SAINT LUCY'S DAY
Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Christians commemorate Saint Lucy the patron saint of the blind on this day. She was a virgin martyr who lived in Sicily in the third century.

December 17

MAWLID AL-NABI (Also known as MILAD AL-NABI) • Islamic (Shi’a)
The observance of the birthday of Islam founder Prophet Muhammad which occurs in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. Celebrates the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. Shi‟a Muslims celebrate it five days later than Sunni Muslims.

December 21

WINTER SOLSTICE
The first day of winter occurs on or around December 22. This is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere; Yule (Christians); Yule (Wicca-Northern Hemisphere); Litha (Wicca-Southern Hemisphere)

December 24 – Jan 1,2017

CHANUKAH also known as HANUKKAH • Jewish
Known as the Festival of Lights is an eight-day festival recalling the war fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom and the rededication of the temple after recapturing it from the Syrians. Each evening candles are lit on the “menorah” (candelabra), adding one candle each night. Janukkaj is a time for playing games (‘dreidel” or a spinning top is a popular Chanukah game) and singing, for visiting and for giving gifts.

December 25

CHRISTMAS • Christian
Christmas is the day associated with Jesus birth. It is celebrated on December 25th by Western churches and on January 7th the following year by Eastern Orthodox churches.

Dec. 26 – Jan 1, 2017

KWANZAA
A seven-day African-American holiday started by Mailana Karenga, an African world scholar, in 1966. It is based on the agricultural celebrations of Africa called “the first fruits” celebrations, which are times of harvest, gathering, reverence, commemoration, and recommitment. Therefore, Kwanzaa is a time for achievements, reverence for the Creator and creation, commemoration of the past, recommitment to cultural ideals, and celebration of the good. Kwanzaa, a Swahili word, means “first”, Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths.