High Religious & Cultural Dates | 2018- 2019
As you begin to plan your events for the summer and the next academic year, please keep in mind the following religious/cultural dates of significance below. Each year, ISE publishes this list of dates that have religious/cultural significance and we ask that you be mindful of these in your planning. Particularly for religious or high holy days, some students may be in observance that prevents them from attending various programs and/or classes.
Additionally, we invite you to take advantage of some of the cultural dates of significance and plan programs that speak to these communities around this time to maximize the effectiveness and participation of your program. We do our best to be respectful of all the “big” holidays, but also highlight those that are particularly significant to our student population at RISD.
Questions? Contact our office and/or review our current academic policy on religious accommodations.
EPIPHANY: SATURDAY, JANUARY 6
Christian. A celebration, 12 days after Christmas, of the visit of Three Wise Men (Kings or Magi) to the baby Jesus, who would later be known as Jesus Christ, the Christians’ Savior. Also celebrated in many parts of the world as Three Kings Day.
ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS: SUNDAY, JANUARY 7
Christian. The Orthodox celebration of Christmas. There is usually a fast before the holiday in order to spend less time worrying about food and to focus on giving back to the community.
WORLD RELIGION DAY: MONDAY, JANUARY 15
World/All-faiths/Baha’i. World Religion Day was founded in 1949 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. The first such holiday was formally celebrated in 1950. Many organizations celebrate the day by holding interfaith events where faith leaders get together to give talks and lectures. People are encouraged to talk to and listen to people from faiths different than their own and to understand the basic tenants of other religious. Baha’i is a form of faith that emerged in 19th century Persia and follows three core principles; unity of God, religion and human kind. The Baha’is believe that there is a single God and the spirituality of all religions in the world stem from this single God. They also believe all humans are born equal and have the same rights and duties irrespective. World Religion Day calls for members of all religions in the world to recognize that all religions have common spiritual goals.
MAHA SHIVARATRI: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25
Hindu. A festival celebrated annually in reverence of the goddess Shiva. It is celebrated with a night-long vigil with worship.
MARDI GRAS: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28
Christian/International. The culmination of the Carnival Season, which began on Epiphany of January 6 and ends today, on Shrove Tuesday. This day of celebration is the last feast before Lent and it also known as Fat Tuesday.
LENT: ASH WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14 – Holy HOLY THURSDAY, MARCH 29
Christian. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a period of penance and self-examination. The ceremony that gives this day its name includes a priest marking the foreheads of penitents in the sign of the cross as a reminder that they were but ashes and dust. Dietary restrictions apply on all Fridays during Lent, which lasts until the Saturday before Easter. Holy Thursday commemorates the eve of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
PURIM: BEGINS EVENING OF WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28 – EVENING OF THURSDAY, MARCH 1
Jewish. A joyous commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews of Persia in the 6th century BCE from a plot by Haman, the king’s advisor, to annihilate them. The king did not realize that his own wife, Queen Esther, was jewish until she intervened and pleaded with him to spare her people. The Old Testament Book of Esther is read aloud in synagogues, and listeners drown out each mention of Haman’s name by jeering and stamping their feet. Begins at sundown the previous day.
HOLI (HINDU): THURSDAY, MARCH 1
Hindu/India/United States. Celebration of spring throughout Northern India that is a time of fun followed by relaxation. during the morning, brightly colored powdered and water are thrown at passerby and the afternoon is spent relaxing in a river or bath.
PALM SUNDAY: SUNDAY, MARCH 25
Christian. Commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, marked by the strewing of palm leaves before him. Holy week, a time of solemn devotion to and memorializing of the suffering (passion), death and burial of Jesus Christ that followed, begins today.
GOOD FRIDAY: FRIDAY, MARCH 30
Christian. Culminates the Lenten season and commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
PASSOVER: BEGINS EVENING OF FRIDAY, MARCH 30 – EVENING OF SATURDAY, APRIL 7
Jewish. The major Jewish spring festival that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, lasting seven (7) or eight (8) days from the fifteenth (15) day of Nisan.
RAMA NAVAMI: SUNDAY, MARCH 25
Hindu. Celebrates the birth of the deity Rama. Images of the infant Rama are placed on cribs and rocked by devotees, and community meals are organized.
EASTER SUNDAY: SUNDAY, APRIL 1
Christian. Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after crucifixion. The most joyous festival of the Christian year.
YOM HASHOAH (HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY): EVENING OF WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11 – EVENING OF THURSDAY, APRIL 12
Jewish. A day to memorialize Jews killed in concentration camps during World War II May be observed by a fast from sundown the previous day to sundown the following day.
TWELFTH DAY OF RIDVAN: EVENING OF TUESDAY MAY 1 - WEDNESDAY, MAY 2
Bahá'í Faith. Commemorates Bahá'u'lláh's declaration that he was a Manifestation of God. The founder of Bahá'í faith left Baghdad and entered gardens now known as the Garden of Ridván.
LAILAT AL BARA'AH: EVENING OF TUESDAY MAY 1 - WEDNESDAY, MAY 2
Islamic. A festive day filled with treats, sweets and charitable acts, focusing on prayer during the Barat night or the night of forgiveness. Additionally, Shia Muslims honor the birthday of Imam al Mahdi, the 12th Imam, on Mid-Shaban.
LAG B’OMER: EVENING OF WEDNESDAY, MAY 2 - THURSDAY, MAY 3
Hindu, Observation of the counting of the day – the link – between Pasach and Shavout.
RAMADAN: EVENING OF TUESDAY, MAY 15 – THURSDAY, JUNE 14
Islamic. The ninth and holiest month of the Islamic year traditionally begins with the sighting of the new moon. This time of spiritual and physical purification commemorates the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad on Lailat ul-Qadr. Fasting during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam. Begins at sundown the previous day.
SHAVUOT: SUNDOWN ON SATURDAY MAY 19 - MONDAY MAY 21
Jewish. A 2-day commemoration of the revelation of the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
PENTECOST- SUNDAY, MAY 20
Christian. The Christian festival celebrates the holy spirit descendant on the disciples of Jesus.
VISAKHA PUJA - BUDDHA DAY, TUESDAY, MAY 29
Buddhist. This day honors the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. Celebrating this holiday means paying him homage and bringing happiness to others. Traditions following this holiday varies based off of location.
MARTYRDOM OF THE BAB, SUNDAY JULY 9
ASALHA PUJA DAY, FRIDAY JULY 27
Buddhist. Buddhist observance of the day when Gautama Buddha made his first public proclamation to five ascetics at Deer Park, Banares. He taught the middle way, the noble eight-fold path and the four noble truths.
THE DAY OF ARAFAT- MONDAY, AUGUST 20
EID- UL- ADHA: EVENING OF TUESDAY AUGUST 21 - EVENING OF WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22
Islamic, Festival of Sacrifice. The day after Arafat, marks the end of the Hajj.
RAKSHA BANDHAN - SUNDAY, AUGUST 26
Hindu, Festival honoring the loving ties between brothers and sister in a family
KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI - SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
Hindu Special Worship, Commemoration of the birth of Krishna – the 8th incarnation of god Vishnu
ROSH HASHANAH: SUNDOWN ON SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 - TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 11
Begins the High Holy Days or Ten Days of Penitence, which end with Yom Kippur. One of the most significant rituals during Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the Shofar, or ram's horn.
FAST OF GEDALIAH- WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
YOM KIPPUR- TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
Judaism. Jewish Day of Atonement. This holiest day of the Jewish year is observed with strict fasting and ceremonial repentance.
MABON: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Pagan, is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow,” both literally and figuratively. It is the time when night and day stand equal in duration; thus is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and honor a moment of balance.
ASHURA- EVENING OF MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 - FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 21
Islamic.There is an optional fast this day. The Shi`a observance is based on the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn, martyred on this day in 683/684 c.e. at the battle off Karbala. Sunni observance is related to numerous Biblical and Qur`anic events.
SUKKOT: SUNDAY (sundown) TO SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23-30
Judaism. Feast of Tabernacles which celebrates the harvest and the protection of the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness dwelling in tents.
SHEMINI ATZERET/ SIMCHAT TORAH: SUNDAY (sundown) TO TUESDAY OCTOBER 30-2
Judaism, holiday dedicated to the love of God. Simchat Torah marks the end of the Sukkot (or Sukkoth) festival.
DUSSEHRA, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19
Hinduism, Putting tika on forehead, prayers, religious rituals like burning an effigy of Ravana.
BIRTH OF BAHA'U'LLAHBAHA'I, FRIDAY (SUNDOWN) TO SATURDAY OCTOBER 21-22
BIRTH OF THE BábBahá’í, MONDAY (sundown) to TUESDAY OCTOBER 22 - 23
SAMHAIN, WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 31
NAVRATRI: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9 - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18
Hinduism, Festival of the divine mother honoring Durga, wife of Shiva, and seeking her blessings.
ALL SAINTS' DAY, THURSDAY NOVEMBER 1
ALL SOULS' DAY, FRIDAY NOVEMBER 2
Christian/Unitarian Universalist, In Christianity, All Souls' Day commemorates All Souls, the Holy Souls, or the Faithful Departed; that is, the souls of Christians who have died.
DIWALI SIKH- WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 7
Hinduism, it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619
BIRTH OF Bahá’u’lláhBahá’í, SUNDAY NOVEMBER 12
BIRTH OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD, MAWLID AN NABI, TUESDAY NOVEMBER 20
Islamic. Commemoration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, in about 570 c.e. Not universally observed.
MAWLID AN-NABI*- TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20 - WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21
Commemoration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, in about 570 c.e. Not universally observed.
GURU NANAK'S BIRTHDAY, FRIDAY NOVEMBER 23
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, SUNDAY DECEMBER 2
Christian, Advent means 'Coming' in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8
Roman Catholic, celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus' mother.
BODHI DAY- SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8
Buddhism, commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali.
LADY OF GUADALUPE- WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12
Roman Catholic, is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
HANUKKAH- SUNDAY (SUNDOWN) TO MONDAY DECEMBER 2-10
Judaism. Festival of Lights. Commemorates the Maccabean recapture and rededication of the Jerusalem Temple in 165-164 b.c.e.
FAST OF THE 10TH OF TEVET- TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18
YULE- FRIDAY DECEMBER 21 - TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2019
Pagan, Yule or Yuletide is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.
JOSEPH SMITH'S BIRTHDAY CJCLDS, SATURDAY DECEMBER 23
CHRISTMAS- TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25
Christian/ Unitarian Universalist. Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Observed by prayers, exchanging of gifts and family parties.
KWANZAA, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26 - TUESDAY, JANUARY 1
Solemnity of Mary- Tuesday, January 1
Epiphany, Sunday- January 6
Christian, Epiphany, also Theophany or Three Kings' Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ.
Nativity of Jesus Christ- Monday January 7
Pongal- Tuesday to Friday January 15 - 18
Hindu, The term 'pongal' in Tamil means "to boil", and this festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving ceremony for the year's harvest. Pongal, one of the important Hindu festivals, falls around the same time as Lohri every year
Tu B’Shvat- Sunday January 20
Judaism, Celebration of the coming of spring by preparation of foods native to Israel. Also known as “New Year for Trees”. Purim
Imbolc- Friday February 1
Pagan, is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring.
Nirvana Day- Tuesday, February 5
Buddhist, A regional observance of the death of the Buddha.
Chinese New Year- Friday, February 16
Women’s World Day of Prayer, Friday March 1
Multifaith, is an international ecumenical Christian laywomen's initiative. It is run under the motto “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action,” and is celebrated annually in over 170 countries on the first Friday in March.
The 19 Day Fast, Friday-Wednesday March 1 - 20
Shivaratri, Monday, March 4
Hinduism, celebrated annually in honor of the god Shiva.
Ash Wednesday (start of Lent), Wednesday March 6
Clean Monday- Monday, March 11
Orthodox Christian, Clean Monday, also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of Great Lent throughout Eastern Christianity and is a moveable feast, falling on the 7th Monday before Pascha.
Fast of Esther- Wednesday, March 20
Judaism, The Fast of Esther is a fast from dawn until dusk on Purim eve, commemorating the three-day fast observed by the Jewish people in the story of Purim.
Holi- Wednesday to Thursday March 20 - 21
Hinduism, Holi is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and Nepal, also known as the "festival of colours" or the "festival of love".
Purim- Wednesday (sundown) to Thursday March 20 - March 21
Judaism, Celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish minority in Persia from genocide
Spring Equinox- Wednesday, March 20
Pagan, The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the subsolar point appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from Earth.
Naw Ruz (New Year’s Day), Wednesday (sundown) - Thursday20 - 21
Bahá’í /Zoroastria, Nowruz, historically and in contemporary times, is the celebration of the traditional Iranian new year holiday and is celebrated throughout the countries of the Middle East and Central Asia
Laylat al-Mi`raj- Wednesday, April 3
Islam, Commemorates Muhammad’s night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and ascension to heaven.
Palm Sunday- Sunday, April 14
Orthodox Christian, Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels.
Baisakhi Hindu New Year- Sunday April 14
Sikh, Vaisakhi marks the Sikh new year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
Holy Thursday- Thursday, April 18
Christian/UnitarianSpecial Worship, It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels.
Great Friday- Friday April 19
Orthodox Christian,Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. Worship services, prayer and vigil services, fasting, almsgiving.
Good Friday- Friday, April 19
Fast of the First Born- Friday, April 19
Judaism, Fast of the Firstborn; is a unique fast day in Judaism which usually falls on the day before Passover.
Passover Intermediate Days: Friday to Saturday April 19- 27
Judaism, Passover is a celebration of spring, of birth and rebirth, of a journey from slavery to freedom, and of taking responsibility for yourself, the community, and the world. ... The Torah states that Jews are to observe Passover for seven days, beginning on the 15th of the Jewish month Nisan (usually in April).
Holy Saturday- Saturday, April 20
Christian, Holy Saturday, the Saturday of Holy Week, also known as Holy and Great Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday, Joyous Saturday, or Easter Even, and called "Joyous Saturday"
Ridvan: Saturday (sundown) to Thursday April 20 - May 2
Laylat al-Bara`ah- Saturday, April 20
Islam, Night of Forgiveness (also known as Shab-e baraat). A night of prayer to God for forgiveness for oneself and for the dead. Preparation for Ramadan through intense prayer begins on this date.
Easter- Sunday, April 21
Easter- Sunday, April 21
End of Passover- Thursday (sundown) to Saturday April 27
Judaism, Passover lasts for up to eight days (or seven days among Reform Jewish groups). There are many Jewish people who adhere to most of the Sabbath observances during the last day of Passover. Some may take a holiday around this time of the year.
Yom HaShoah: Wednesday (sundown) to Thursday May 1 - 2
known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.
Beltane- Wednesday, May 1
Ramadan: Sunday (sundown) to Tuesday, May 5 - June 4
Islam, 9th month on Islamic calendar, devoted fasting from first light to sunset. In this month, the Prophet Muhammad’s reception of the divine revelation the Qur`an, is commemorated. It is the holiest period of the Islamic Year. The start date is set either by following Saudi practice of by moon sighting.
Vesak- Sunday, May 19
Buddhism / Southeast Asia, It is usually observed during the first full moon in May. Buddhists celebrate the Buddha's three most important life stages on Vesak: Birth, Enlightenment and Death, which traditionally are said to all have happened on the same day of the calendar throughout his life.
Lag B’Omer: Wednesday (sundown) to Thursday May 22 - 23
Judaism, Lag BaOmer, also Lag B'Omer, is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar.
Declaration of the Bab: Thursday (sundown) to Friday May, 23 - 24
Bahá’í, Siyyid Ali Muhammad took the title of “The Báb,” which in Arabic means “the Gate.” He was the first of two prophetic figures who founded the Baha’i Faith, the other being Baha’u’llah, which in Arabic means “The Glory of God.”
Ascension of the Bahá’u’lláh, Wednesday May 29
Bahá’í, It commemorates the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Bahá'í faith, Bahá'u'lláh, and his teachings.
Ascension of the Lord- Thursday, May 30
Christian/Orthodox, The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, also known as Holy Thursday, Ascension Day, or Ascension Thursday, commemorates the Christian belief of the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven.