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Religious Holidays

What, exactly, is a religious holiday? How are they defined? When you look at your own religious tradition, you may think the answer is straightforward, but when you start to dig into the question more deeply—and begin to look at traditions other than your own—things become much more complex very quickly.

The fact is, even within the same religion, religious holidays are both defined and experienced quite differently by individuals, especially when those individuals come from distinct family backgrounds—to say nothing of distinct cultural contexts. How much more so, then, when we look at different religions, do we find even greater variance: Western societies heavily influenced by monotheistic Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions think about religious holidays much differently than Eastern societies heavily influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, for example.

Yet this multivalent understanding and experience of religion is not reason to avoid the category of “religious holiday” altogether. For most religions, specific “holy” days are a key aspect of religious practice, belief, and belonging, and an important means by which individuals and their communities reinforce their identities and their relationships—with each other, with family and friends across time and space (including the deceased), and with the Divine.

Therefore, for many adherents of a religious tradition, the freedom and support to observe these holidays are of central importance to one’s self-understanding; and particularly for college students, this becomes a means of reinforcing one’s relational identity even when far from home, family, and culture.

To this end, we have established this calendar of important religious holidays from a wide variety of traditions. It is not meant to be comprehensive—for that, please see the following website: http://www.interfaith-calendar.org/, which includes both 2018 dates and definitions of a vast number of different religious celebrations. Instead, here, we have sought to reflect our own particular student population, and the specific needs of our community. 

We encourage you to peruse this list and learn more! Another excellent website in this regard is the following: http://pluralism.org/. Here, you will find not only information about various religious traditions, but also locations of places of worship all across the United States.

We hope you appreciate and enjoy these resources; if you have any questions, or would like to talk further, please email Chaplain Kristin Largen at klargen@gettysburg.edu.

 

Religious Holidays

2018-2019 Academic Year

 

2018

 

Eid al Adha
August 22–25*
Islamic [dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent]

 

Krishna Janmashtami
September 3
Hindu

 

Rosh Hashanah (New Year)
September 10–11*
Jewish

 

First of Muharram
September 12*
Islamic

 

Ganesh Chaturthi
September 13
Hindu

 

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
September 19*
Jewish

 

Ashura
September 21*
Islamic

 

Sukkot
September 24–31*
Jewish

 

Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah
October 1–2*
Jewish

 

Navratri
October 9–16
Hindu

 

Day of the Dead
October 31–November 2
Mexico/Catholic

 

All Saints Day
November 1
Christian

 

Diwali
November 7
Hindu

 

Advent
December 2–24
Christian

 

Hanukkah
December 3–10*
Jewish

 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 8
Christian

 

Rohatsu (Japan)
December 8
Buddhist

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 12
Christian

 

Christmas
December 25
Christian

 

Kwanzaa
December 26–January 1
African-American

 

Feast of the Holy Family
December 30
Christian

 

2019

 

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
January 1
Christian

 

Christmas
January 7
Eastern Orthodox

 

 Asian Lunar New Year
February 5
Confucian/Taoist/Buddhist

 

Maha Shivaratri
March 4
Hinduism

 

Ash Wednesday
March 6
Christian

 

Orthodox Great Lent
March 11–April 27
Eastern Orthodox

 

Holi
March 20–21
Hindu

 

Purim
March 21*
Jewish

 

Vesak (Japan)
April 8
Buddhist

 

Palm Sunday
April 14
Christian

 

Maundy Thursday
April 18
Christian

 

Good Friday
April 19
Christian

 

Pesach
April 20–27*
Jewish

 

Easter
April 21
Christian

 

Pascha
April 28
Orthodox Easter

 

Ramadan (30 days)
May 6–June 4*
Islamic [dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent]

 

Vesak
May 19
Buddhist

 

Eid al Fitr
June 5–7*
Islamic [dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent]

 

Pentecost
June 9
Christian

 

Shavuot
June 9–10*
Jewish 

 

Obon (Japan)
July 13–15
Buddhist

 

*Some holy days start at sundown of the evening before the listed start date and end at sundown or nightfall of the concluding date listed.