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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

 

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Monday, January 1
Christian

 

Christmas
Sunday, January 7
Eastern Orthodox

 

Maha Shivaratri
Tuesday, February 13
Hinduism

 

Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, February 14
Christian

 

Asian Lunar New Year
Friday, February 16
Confucian/Taoist/Buddhist

 

Orthodox Great Lent
Monday, February 19–Saturday, April 7
Eastern Orthodox

 

Purim
Thursday, March 1–Friday, March 2*
Jewish

 

Holi
Friday, March 2–Saturday, March 3
Hindu

 

Palm Sunday
Sunday, March 25
Christian

 

Maundy Thursday
Thursday, March 29
Christian

 

Good Friday
Friday, March 30
Christian

 

Easter
Sunday, April 1
Christian

 

Pesach
Saturday, March 31–Sunday, April 7*
Jewish

 

Vesak (Japan)
Sunday, April 8
Buddhist

 

Pascha
Sunday, April 8
Orthodox Easter

 

Ramadan (30 days)
Wednesday, May 16–Friday, June 15*
Islamic [dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent]

 

Pentecost
Sunday, May 20
Christian

 

Shavuot
Sunday, May 20–Monday, May 21
Jewish

 

Vesak
Tuesday, May 29
Buddhist

 

Eid al Fitr
Friday, June 15–Sunday, June 17*
Islamic [dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent]

 

Obon (Japan)
Monday, August 13—Wednesday, August 15
Buddhist

 

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

 

Krishna Janmashtami
Sunday, September 2
Hindu

 

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

 

First of Muharram
Monday, September 10–Tuesday, September 11*
Islamic

 

Ganesh Chaturthi
Wednesday, September 12
Hindu

 

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
Tuesday, September 19*
Jewish

 

Ashura
Friday, September 21
Islamic

 

Sukkot
Monday, September 24–Sunday, September 30*
Jewish

 

Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah
Monday, October 1—Tuesday, October 2*
Jewish

 

Navratri
Tuesday, October 9–Tuesday, October 16
Hindu

 

Day of the Dead
Wednesday, October 31—Friday, October 2
Mexico/Catholic

 

All Saints Day
Thursday, November 1
Christian

 

Diwali
Wednesday, November 7
Hindu

 

Advent
Sunday, December 2–Monday, December 24
Christian

 

Hanukkah
Monday, December 3–Monday, December 10*
Jewish

 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Saturday, December 8
Christian

 

Rohatsu (Japan)
Saturday, December 8
Buddhist

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Wednesday, December 12
Christian

 

Christmas
Tuesday, December 25
Christian

 

Feast of the Holy Family
Sunday, December 30
Christian

 

Kwanzaa
Wednesday, December 26–Tuesday, January 1
African-American

 

*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.