2021 Holy Days Calendar - University of Houston
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2021 Holy Days Calendar

January

January 1 Feast of St. Basil – Orthodox Christian. Orthodox Christian commemoration of St. Basil the Great, who wrote a Eucharist Liturgy which bears his name.
January 1 Solemnity of Mary of God – Christian. The liturgical feast of Mary celebrated by the Catholic church.
January 1 Gantan-sai (New Years) – Shinto. Shinto New Year festival observed with prayers for inner renewal, prosperity, and health.
January 5 Twelfth Night – Christian
Christian observance of the close of Christmastide and prelude to Epiphany which begins the next day.
January 5 Guru Gobind Singh Birthday – Sikh
Sikh honoring of the birth of the founder of the Khalsa who lived from 1666 – 1708. Marked by sacred readings, prayers, hymns, and meals together.
January 6 Epiphany – Christian. Christian commemoration of the manifestations of the divine nature of Jesus Christ. The homage of the magi to the infant Jesus is honored by some.
*January 6 Feast of Theophany – Orthodox Christian (Eastern Church Observance) Orthodox Christian Feast to recall the revelation of the Holy Trinity in the baptism of the Lord. Note: Western Church observes on January 10, 2021.
January 6 Nativity of Christ – Armenian Orthodox Christian and Orthodox Christian
Armenian celebration of the Nativity of Christ.
January 10 Baptism of Lord Jesus – Christian
Christian commemoration of the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.
January 14 Maghi – Sikh
Commemoration of a battle in which forty Sikhs died for Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
January 17 World Religion Day – Baha’i
Baha’i sponsored day dedicated to the unity and oneness of all world religions.
January 18–
January 25
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Christian
Christian observance with a prayer for the restoration of unity among the churches of the faith.
January 19 Timkat – Ethiopian Orthodox Christian
Ethiopian Orthodox Christian epiphany celebration of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.
January 25 Conversion of St. Paul – Christian
Christian observance of the experience of Paul when he was confronted by a vision of Jesus while on his way to persecute Christians and became a leading presenter of Jesus. Observed at worship services.
January 28 Mahayana New Year – Buddhist   Mahayana is one of three main existing branches of Buddhism.
January 28 Tu B’shevat – Jewish
The Jewish celebration of the coming of spring by preparation of foods native to Israel.  It is also known as “New Year for Trees” – a method for determining the age of trees for tithing purposes.

February

February 2 Candlemas – Christian
Christian celebration of the presentation of young Jesus in the temple to the aged Simeon. New beginnings are recognized. Candles are lighted.
February 2 Setsubun-sai – Shinto
Shinto celebration of the change of seasons with the coming of spring with shouts of “Devils out, Good Fortune in.” Bean throwing protects against demons.
February 12 Chinese New Year – Taoist – Buddhist
The Chinese New Year remains the most important social and economic holiday in China. The holiday is a time to honor household and heavenly deities as well as ancestors and includes feasting together as a family.
*February 14 St. Valentine’s Day – Christian (Western Church)
Christian celebration of the love of God presented in Jesus and in the lives of Christian believers. St. Valentine was a 3rd-century martyr. Widely observed in the USA as a secular celebration of love. Note: The easter Orthodox church observes this holiday on July 6th. They also observe it on July 30th.
February 15 Nirvana Day – Buddhist – Jain
A regional observance of the death of Buddha. Note: Some celebrate this holiday on the 8th of February.
February 16 Vasant Panchami – Hindu
A North Indian celebration is associated with Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, and Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. The color yellow is associated with this festival.
February 16 Shrove Tuesday – Christian
Christian Carnival Day on the eve of Ash Wednesday which begins Lent, a time of fasting and devotions.  Pancakes are often served. It is also known as Fat Tuesday in some places.
February 17 Ash Wednesday – Lent begins – Christian
In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the season of Lent, 40 days of preparation for Easter. Many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, and spiritual discipline.
February 16 Vasant Panchami – Hindu
Hindu celebration dedicated to Saraswati, goddess of learning.
February 24–
February 28
Intercalary Days – Baha’i
Baha’i insertion of days into the calendar in order to maintain their solar calendar.
February 26 Magha Puja Day – Buddhist
Magha Puja Day is a holy day of homage to The Buddha.
February 26 Purim – Jewish
This merry holiday celebrates a time when Jewish people in Persia were saved from destruction. Joyful, carnival-like celebrations and it is customary to hear the reading of the Book of Esther, eat, drink, give gifts of food and drink.

March

February 28–
March 19
Nineteen Day Fast – Baha’i
Baha’i Fast to be observed by adult Baha’is in good health – sunrise to sundown – no food or drink.
March 11 Lailat al Miraj – Islam
Islamic observance of Mohammed’s night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension to heaven.
March 11 Maha Shivaratri – Hindu
A Hindu festival in honor of Lord Shiva and his marriage to Goddess Parvati. Ceremonies involving prayers and hymns take place mostly at night. Special foods are not used.
March 17 Saint Patrick’s Day – Christian
Christian celebration of Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland in the early days of the faith.
March 20 Equinox-Ostara-Wiccan/Pagan
Celebration of new life; a time of renewal and rebirth.
March 28 Palm Sunday – Christian (Western Church)
Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Note: The Eastern Church observes this holiday on April 25th.
March 20 Naw Ruz (New Year) – Baha’i
The New Year celebrates the love relationship between the Creator and the creation, in the material world.
March 22 Nowruz (New Year) – Zoroastrian
Celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire. Zarathustra received his revelation on this day.
March 27 Lord’s Evening Meal – Jehovah’s Witness Christians
This was first observed by Jesus Christ on Jewish Passover in 33 C.E. It is observed only once per year.  Celebrants partake of bread and wine which are symbols of Christ’s body and blood.
March 27–
April 30
Pesach  (Passover) – Jewish
Pesach, which means to pass through, commemorates the Exodus from Egypt and the Holy One passing over the Jewish homes when the first-born Egyptians were slain.
March 29 Holi – Hindu
A colorful and joyous festival that welcomes Spring. Referred to as the Festival of Colours, it is celebrated with people throwing colorful powder and colored water. Generally celebrated over two days.
March 29–
March 31
Hola Mohalla – Sikh
A three-day festival following Holi; the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, started it as a time for military preparedness exercises. Today, mock battles are followed by music competitions and festivities.

April

April 1 Holy (Maundy) Thursday –Christian (Western Church)
The Thursday before Easter commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the gospels. Mass or services may include the symbolic washing of the feet. Note: The Eastern Church observe this holiday on April 29th.
*April 2 Good Friday – Christian (Western Church)
On this solemn day, Christians commemorate the passion, suffering, and death on the cross of Jesus Christ. Christians spend this day in fasting, repentance, prayer, and meditation on the agony and suffering of Christ on the cross. Note: The Eastern Church observes this holiday on April 30th.
*April 4 Easter – Christian (Western Church)
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year and includes a joyous celebration of Mass or a Service of Christ’s Resurrection. Note: The Eastern Church observes this holiday on May 2nd.
April 13 Hindi New Year – Hindu.
Navvarsha (New Year’s Day). Bikarami Samvat 2073 begins.
April 9 Yom HaShoah – Jewish
Also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, this day offers remembrance for persons who died in the Shoah, actions against the Jewish people during World War II.
April 12 Ramadan Begins – Islam
Holiest period of the Islamic Year. Commemoration of Muhammad’s reception of the divine revelation recorded in the Qur’an. Authorities in Saudi Arabia sight the new moon of the 9th month of the Islamic calendar.
April 14 Vaisakhi – Sikh
The anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa and is important for Sikhs because on this day in 1699, the clerical system was removed from Sikhism.
April 20 First day of Ridvan – Baha’i
Baha’i commemoration of the twelve-day period in 1863 when Baha’u’llah declared that he was God’s messenger for this age. Work is to be suspended on days 1, 9, and 12 of the festival.
April 21 Ramanavami – Hindu
Celebrates the birthday of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the God Vishnu. During the previous eight days, Hindus read the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, which tells the story of Rama.
April 21 Rama Navami – Hindu
Hindu celebration of the birth of Lord Rama, the hero of the religious epic poem, The Ramayana. It involves telling stories and going to the temple.
*April 21 First day of Ridvan – Baha’i
Baha’i commemoration of the twelve-day period in 1863 when Baha’u’llah declared that he was God’s messenger for this age. Note: Work is to be suspended on days 1, 9, and 12 of the festival.
April 22–April 23 Theravadin New Year – Buddhist
Buddhists of the Theravada tradition celebrate the New Year with symbolic elements often found at the beach: sand and water.
April 25 Mahavir Jayanti – Jain
Festival honoring Lord Mahavira on the founder’s birthday. Shrines are visited and teachings are reviewed and reflected upon.
April 27 Hanuman Jayanti – Hindu
This event celebrates Hanuman, one of the most popular Hindu idols, the ape that helped Lord Rama fight evil. Hanuman represents the inherent and rarely used power that lies within all.
April 28 Ninth Day of Ridvan – Baha’i
Baha’i commemoration of the twelve-day period in 1863 when Baha’u’llah declared that he was God’s messenger for this age. Note: Work is to be suspended on days 1, 9, and 12 of the festival.
April 30 Lag B’Omer – Jewish
The Jewish observance of the counting of the days – the link – between Pesach and Shavout.

May

May 1 Beltane – Wiccan/Pagan
Beltane celebrates the fertility and abundance of the earth.
May 1 Twelth Day of Ridvan – Baha’i
Baha’i commemoration of the twelve-day period in 1863 when Baha’u’llah declared that he was God’s messenger for this age. Note: Work is to be suspended on days 1, 9, and 12 of the festival.
May 2 Easter/Pascha – Orthodox Christian
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated with a feast in the Orthodox Christian church. Recognizes Christ’s power over death and the gift of restoration, transformation, and life everlasting.
May 9 Lalat ul Qadr – Islam
Islamic Night of Destiny. First revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Mohammed. Observed during the last ten days of Ramadan. Prayers to Allah for a good destiny.
May 12–
May 13
Eid al Fitr – Islam
Islamic event marking the close of Ramadan. It is a festival of thanksgiving to Allah for enjoying the month of Ramadan. It involves wearing the finest clothing, saying prayers, and fostering understanding with other religions.
*May 13 Ascension of Jesus – Christian (Western Church)
Christian recognition of the departure of Jesus from the earth after the resurrection. It’s perhaps the earliest observed celebration in Christianity. Observed with worship including prayers and music. Note: The Eastern Church observes this holiday on June 10th.
May 16–
May 18
Shavuot – Jewish
The Jewish celebration of Moses’ descent from Mt. Sinai with the ten commandments. Begins the evening of June 3rd. Plants and flowers are used in decorations.
May 29 Lailat al Bara’ah – Islam
Islamic Night of Forgiveness.  A night of prayer to Allah for the forgiveness of the dead. Preparation for Ramadan through intense prayer.
May 23 Declaration of the Bab- Baha’i
This day recognizes the declaration in 1844 by Ali Muhammed that he was the anticipated “Coming One” of all religions. Work is suspended on this day.
*May 23 Pentecost – Christian (Western Church)
Celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ disciples, the birth of the church, following His resurrection. Occurs seven weeks after Easter Sunday and is celebrated with baptism liturgies and joyous services. Note: The Eastern Church observes this holiday on June 20th.
May 26 Visakha Puja – Buddhist
This festival celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. The day includes the preparation of sweets for the monks, sermons, and a candle-lighting ceremony.
May 28 Ascension of Baha’u’llah – Baha’i
Marks the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Baha’i faith.
*May 30 Trinity Sunday – Christians (Western Church)
Christians honor the belief in one God with a threefold nature. Note: The Eastern Church observes this holiday on June 20th.

June

June 3 Corpus Christi – Catholic Christian
Catholic celebration in recognition of the Eucharist – The Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The real presence of the body and blood of Jesus is honored.
June 16 Guru Arjan Dev Martyrdom – Sikh
Sikh time of remembering those who have suffered for the faith. Observed by reading the Guru Granth Sahib.
June 20 Summer Solstice – Wiccan/Pagan
Wicca celebration of the sacred marriage in which energy of the gods is poured into the service of life.

July

July 9 Martyrdom of the Bab – Baha’i
Ali Mohammed was executed in 1850 by Persian political and religious powers. Observed by abstaining from commerce and work.
July 17–
August 16
Ramayana – Hindu
Ramayana week begins nine days before Ramanavami, the birthday of Lord Rama. Fasting during this period is considered highly auspicious.
July 17–
July 18
Tisha B’Av – Jewish
A major fast day commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem in ancient times.
July  19 Waqf al Arafa (Hajj Day) – Islam
Islamic observance day during Hajj when pilgrims pray for forgiveness and mercy. Hajj is Islamic pilgrimage rites at Mecca on 7-12th days of the month of Dhu al-Hajj.
July 20 Eid al Adha – Islam
Islamic festival of sacrifice. The day after Arafat, the most important day in Hajj ritual. A three-day festival recalling Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah.
July 24 Asalha Puja Day – Buddhist
Observance of the day when Gautama Buddha made his first public proclamation to five ascetics at Deer Park, Banares. He taught the noble eight-fold path and the four noble truths.

August

August 1 Lammas – Christian
Christian first fruits celebration observed by placing bread baked from the first harvest on the altar. From the Celtic Christian tradition. Note: The Southern Hemisphere observes this holiday on February 1st.
August 1 Imbolc (Lughnassad) – Wiccan/Pagan
The second of four great fire festivals, Imbolc (meaning “in milk”) recognizes a time of awakening, promise, and hope for the spring.
August 1 Lughanssad (Imbolc) – Wiccan/ Pagan
Wicca observance of the first harvest of the year involving agricultural festivals and prosperity magic. The Christian name of Lammas is sometimes used.
August 1 Fast in Honor of the Holy Mother of Jesus – Orthodox Christian Begins the Orthodox Christian 14 day fasting period in preparation for the celebration of the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.
August 6 Transfiguration Sunday – Christian
Christian commemoration of the experience on Mt. Tabor when Jesus’ physical appearance became brilliant as his connection with traditional Jewish holy figures became evident to the disciples.
August 9-
August 10
Hijra (New Year) – Islam
This is the first day of the month of Muharram which marks the time in 622 C.E. when Prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina.
August 15 Obon – Shinto
Japanese Buddhist festival to honor deceased ancestors. Involves lighting of bonfires, traditional meals, paper lanterns, and folk dances.
August 15 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Christian
The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven. *Also known as the Dormition of the Mother God.
August 18 Ashura – Islam
The Day of Ashura commemorates, for Shi’a Muslims, a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali,  the grandson of the prophet Muhammad.
August 21 Raksha Bandhan – Hindu
Hindu festival honoring the loving ties between brothers and sisters in a family.
August 30 Krishna Janmashtami – Hindu
Hindu commemoration of the birth of Krishna – the 8th incarnation of the god Vishnu who took the form of Krishna to destroy the evil king Kansa.

September

September 6–
September 8
Rosh Hashanah – Jewish
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashana is the first of the High Holydays or Days of Awe; it is a time of prayer, reflection, and services.
September 8 Nativity of Mary – Christian
This holiday, celebrated in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, celebrates the birth date of Mary, mother of Jesus.
September 9 Ganesh Chaturthi – Hindu
A Hindu festival honoring the god of prosperity, prudence, and success. Images of Ganesha are worshiped.
September 11–
September 19
Paryushan Parv – Jain
8-day festival signifying human emergence into a new world of spiritual and moral refinement. Recitations from Jain, sacred writing, and family exchange of cards & letters. Day 8 is the most important and focuses on forgiveness.
September 14 Holy Cross Day – Christian
A Christian day of recognition for the cross on which Jesus was crucified as a central symbol of the Christian religion.
September 15 -  September 16 Yom Kippur – Jewish
Jewish day of atonement. This holiest day of the Jewish year is observed with strict fasting and ceremonial repentance.
September 20 – September 27 Sukkot – Jewish
Jewish Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the harvest and the protection of the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness dwelling in tents. Temporary dwelling places have leaves for a roof so the sky can be seen.
September 22 Equinox (Mabon) – Wiccan/Pagan
Mabon, falling in September in the Northern Hemisphere, is a celebration of the second harvest during the autumn equinox. When day and night are equal, it marks a balance between light and dark.
September 27 Meskel – Ethiopian Orthodox Christian
Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Christian commemoration of the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Eleni (St. Helenea) in the 4th-century a.d.
September 27 -  September 28 Shemini Atzeret – Jewish
Jewish completion of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah.
September 28 -  September 29 Simchat Tora -Jewish
Jewish day to celebrate the reading of the Law. Synagogue service involves readings, processions, and the blessing of the children.

October

October 4 Saint Francis Day – Christian
Christian recognition of service to people and appreciation of the natural world, as practiced by St. Francis and the Franciscan Monastic Order which he founded.
October 7 – October 14 Navaratri – Hindu
Hindu festival of the divine mother honoring Durga, wife of Shiva, and seeking her blessings. Also observed as a celebration recalling the days of Lord Krishna.
October 15 Dasara – Hindu
Hindu celebration of victory and valor. Lord Rama is remembered as winning a victory over evil.
October 18 Mawlid an-Nabi – Islam
Islamic commemoration of the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, in about 570 c.e. The prophet’s teachings are read and religious meetings are held.
October 19 Birth of the Bab – Baha’i
Baha’i honoring the founder of the Babi religion, the forerunner to Baha’u’llah and the Baha’i faith.
October 31 Reformation Day – Protestant Christian
Anniversary of tradition and its emphasis on the place of the Bible and religious freedom. Public observation is the Sunday before October 31.
October 31 All Hallow’s Eve – Christian
Christian celebration of mystery combining prayers and merriment involving children and families. It is a prelude to All Saint’s Day.

November

November 1 Samhain – Wiccan/Pagan
Samhain marks the beginning of the Pagan year; a time to search for wisdom and guidance. Note: The Southern Hemisphere observes this holiday from April 30th through May 1st.
*November 1 All Saints Day – Christian and Eastern Orthodox
The Catholic and Protestant churches celebrate all believers, known and unknown, alive and dead. Note: The Eastern Church observes this holiday on a different date.
*November 2 Diwali – Hindu – Jain – Sikh
The Festival of Lights commemorates the triumph of the Good over the Evil and Light over Darkness. *Note: Different branches of this religion celebrate on different days.
November 2 All Soul’s Day (Day of the Dead) – Catholic Christian
Christian day of prayers, remembrance, and intercession for the dead. Prayers of the faithful are seen as helping to cleanse the souls for the beatific vision of God in heaven.
November 7 Birth of Baha’u’llah  – Baha’i
Baha’i celebration of the birth of their founder and teacher. Baha’u’llah is the Messenger of God. His teachings create the foundation of the Baha’i practice, which is the unity of people of all races and backgrounds.
November 19 Guru Nanak Dev Sahib’s Birthday – Sikh
Day honoring the birth of the first Sikh teacher who lived from 1469-1539 c.e. There are sacred readings, prayers, hymns, and meals taken together.
November 24 Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom – Sikh
Time of remembering the execution of Teg Bahadur by the Moghul Emperor in India.
November 25 Thanksgiving – Interfaith USA
Interfaith Celebration of the created earth. Celebrated in the USA.
November 25 Day of the Covenant – Baha’i
Baha’i celebration of the covenant given in the last will and testament of Baha’u’llah.
November 28 –December 24 Advent – Christian
Time of preparation for observing the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent is observed with the lighting of candles, display of wreaths, and special ceremonies. Advent anticipates the coming again to earth of Jesus Christ.
November 27 Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha – Baha’i
Baha’i celebration of the rising of the spirit of Abdu’l-Baha to the heavenly dwelling.
November 28 - December 6 Hanukkah – Jewish
Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem.
November 30 Saint Andrew’s Day – Christian
Christian observance of the coming of Christianity to the area now known as Scotland. The martyrdom of St. Andrew is remembered as the season of advent is about to begin. Note: The Eastern Hemisphere observes this holiday on December 13th.

December

December 6 Saint Nicholas Day – Christian
Celebration of the birth of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children, and role model for gift giving. Many churches named for this saint, who is also the Dutch version of Santa Claus.
December 8 Rohatsu (Bodhi Day) – Buddhist
Rohatsu is the celebration of the enlightenment of the Buddha. A candle is lit every evening for thirty days, symbolic of enlightenment.
December 8 Immaculate Conception of Mary – Catholic Christian
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is the conception of the Virgin Mary without, according to the Roman Catholic Church, any stain of original sin.
December 12 Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Catholic Christian
Catholic Christian honoring of the legendary appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 c.e.
December 16 – December 25 Posada Navidenas – Christian
The Hispanic Christian feast of The Lodgings commemorating the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem in preparation for the birth of Jesus.
December 21 Winter Solstice – Wiccan/Pagan
Yule is the time of greatest darkness and the longest night of the year. This time is celebrated as the “return of the Sun God” when He is reborn of the Goddess.
December 24 Christmas Eve – Christian
Christian celebration of the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It is observed with worship, candle lighting, manger scenes, and festive meals.
December 25 Christmas – Christian
Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. Note: Churches from different parts of the world celebrate it during January.
December 26 Zarathosht Diso – Zoroastrian
Anniversary of the death of the Prophet Zarathushtra.
December 26 - January 1 Kwanzaa – African American
A celebration of family, community, and culture.
December 28 Holy Innocents – Christian
Christian day of solemn memory of male children killed by King Herod in the attempt to destroy Jesus.