On this page:
What is a religious holiday?
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.
Why we recognize a variety of religious holidays
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.
Learn more about religious holidays
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 Interfaith Calendar, which includes both current 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! The Pluralism Project is another excellent website in this regard. 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 contact our office.
Calendar of religious holidays
Current year: These dates are for the 2021–22 Academic Year.
Holidays in 2021
|Eid al–Adha||July 20–23*||Islam (dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent)|
|Krishna Janmashtami||August 3||Hinduism|
|First of Muharram||August 10||Islam|
|Ganesh Chaturthi||September 10||Hinduism|
|Rosh Hashanah (New Year)||September 7–8*||Judaism|
|Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)||September 16*||Judaism|
|Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah||September 28*||Judaism|
|Day of the Dead||October 31||Mexico/Catholicism|
|All Saints Day||November 1||Christianity|
|Advent||November 28–December 24||Christianity|
|Hanukkah||November 29–December 6*||Judaism|
|Feast of the Immaculate Conception||December 8||Christianity|
|Rohatsu (Japan)||December 8||Buddhism|
|Our Lady of Guadalupe||December 12||Christianity|
|Kwanzaa||December 26–January 1||African–American|
|Feast of the Holy Family||December 26||Christianity|
Holidays in 2022
|Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary||January 1||Christianity|
|Christmas||January 7||Eastern Orthodox Christianity|
|Asian Lunar New Year||February 1||Confucianism/Taoism/Buddhism|
|Maha Shivaratri||March 1||Hinduism|
|Ash Wednesday||March 2||Christianity|
|Orthodox Great Lent begins||March 7||Eastern Orthodox Christianity|
|Ramadan begins (30 days)||April 3*||Islam (dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent)|
|Palm Sunday||April 10||Christianity|
|Maundy Thursday||April 14||Christianity|
|Good Friday||April 15||Christianity|
|Pascha||April 24||Eastern Orthodox Christianity|
|Eid al Fitr||May 2–3*||Islam (dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent)|
*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.