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Interfaith holiday calendar

The VCU interfaith holiday calendar lists traditional holidays from various world religions. Holidays marked with an asterisk (*) typically begin and end at sundown on the dates listed. In an effort to celebrate diversity in the university community, please keep these dates in mind when scheduling university-sponsored events. If you have questions regarding the significance of a holiday listed below, contact the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities at contact@inclusiveVA.org or call 804-515-7950. If you have questions about this calendar, contact VCU HR at askhr@vcu.edu or call 804-828-0177.


 

January 2020

Jan. 2: Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti - Sikh

Commemorates the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikhism.

Jan. 2: Bodhi Day - Buddhism

Commemorates the day Gautama Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became the Buddha.

Jan. 6: Epiphany - Protestant, Roman Catholic

Commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.

Jan. 7: Christmas - Orthodox Christian

Commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Jan. 13: Lohri/Maghi - Sikh

Marks the end of winter and the celebration of harvest.

Jan. 15: Pongal/Uttarayan/Makar Sankranti - Hindu

Commemorates the arrival of spring, harvest and thanks to the Sun God.

Jan. 19: Epiphany - Orthodox Christian

Commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

Jan. 25: Chinese New Year

Commemorates the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar.

February 2020

Feb. 1: Imbolc - Pagan

Commemorates the beginning of spring and is celebrated at the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

Feb. 9 - 10: Tu BiShavat  - Jewish*

Celebrates a connection to the Earth and environment.

Feb. 10: Magha Puja Day - Buddhist

Commemorates the first gathering between the Buddha and his first disciples and celebrates the creation of an ideal and exemplary community.

Feb. 15: Parinirvana (Nirvana Day) - Buddhist

Commemorates the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment and his soul released from his body.

Feb. 26: Ash Wednesday/Lent begins - Protestant, Roman Catholic 

Marks the beginning of six weeks of penitence, often marked by various forms of abstinence and/or fasting.

Feb. 29 - Mar. 19: Nineteen-day Fast - Baha’i*

An obligatory sunup to sundown fast for 19 days, occurring in the last month of the Baha’i calendar. It serves to reinvigorate the soul and bring one closer to God.

March 2020

March 9-10: Purim - Jewish*

Celebrates the day Esther, Queen of Persia, saved the Jewish people.

March 10: Holi/Dhuleti - Hindu*

Popularly known as the festival of color, this day commemorates the triumph of good over evil. 

March 10-12: Hola Mohalla - Sikh

A spring festival celebrating the prowess of Sikh martial arts, music and devotion.

March 19: Ostara - Pagan

Commemorates the spring equinox, when light overcomes darkness and the promises of Imbolc are fulfilled.

March 20: Navroz/Nowruz - Baha’i, Zoroastrian

Commemorates the Persian New Year celebrated by various ethnic and religious communities, including Parsis, Ismaili Muslims and members of the Baha’I faith.

April 2020

April 5: Palm Sunday - Protestant, Roman Catholic

Commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

April 6: Mahavir Jayanti (the birth of Mahavir) - Jain 

Commemorates the birth of Mahavir Swami, the 24th and last spiritual teacher born of Jainism.

April 8: Buddha Purnima (birth of Buddha) - Buddhist 

Commemorates the birth of the Buddha.

April 8-16: Passover - Jewish* 

Commemorates the exodus from Egypt.

April 10: Good Friday - Protestant, Roman Catholic 

Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

April 12: Easter - Protestant, Roman Catholic

Commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

April 12: Palm Sunday - Orthodox Christian

Marks the beginning of Holy Week, commemorating the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.

April 13: Vaisakhi - Sikh

Commemorates the spring harvest and the formation of the Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

April 17: Great Friday - Eastern Orthodox Christian

Commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross.

April 19: Easter - Eastern Orthodox Christian

A feast day commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

April 20-21: Yom HaSho’ah - Jewish* 

Also known as Holocaust and Heroism Rememberance Day, this day commemorates approximately six million Jewish people who died in the Holocaust.

April 23 - May 23: Ramadan - Muslim*

One of the five pillars of Islam, this is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community that commemorates Muhammad’s first revelation.

April 28-29: Yom haatzmaut - Jewish* 

Commemorates the day Israel declared independence.

May 2020

May 1: Beltane - Pagan

Commemorates the beginning of the pastoral summer season and occurs halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice.

May 7: Vesak (Buddha Day) - Buddhist

Known as Buddha Day, this day commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.

May 21: Ascension Day - Protestant, Roman Catholic

Commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

May 23: Declaration of the Bab - Baha’i

The anniversary of the Bab’s declaration, revealing himself as the door through which God’s revelation would come.

May 23-24: Eid al-Fitr - Muslim* 

The festival of breaking the fast, which marks the end of the month-long fasting of Ramadan.

May 28-30: Shavuot - Jewish* 

Commemorates the feast of weeks and is celebrated seven weeks after the second Passover.

May 31: Pentecost - Protestant, Roman Catholic

Commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday.

June 2020

June 7: Pentecost - Eastern Orthodox Christian

Commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, celebrated 50 days after the Great and Holy Pascha. 

June 20: Summer Solstice/Litha - Pagan

One of the solstices, commemorates the longest day and the shortest night of the year. This celebration marks the power of the sun. 

July 2020

July 4: Asalha Puja Day - Buddhist

Celebrates the Buddha’s first sermon in which he set out the doctrine that came to him following his enlightenment.

July 28 - Aug 2: Hajj - Muslim*

An annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Islam. Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.

July 29-30: Tisha B’Av - Jewish* 

The major day of communal mourning in the Jewish calendar.

July 29-30: Waqf al Arafa - Muslim* 

Occurring on the second day of Hajj, this day commemorates one of Muhammad’s last famous sermons in his final year of life.

July 30-31: Eid al-Adha - Muslim*

Known as the feast of sacrifice, this day commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. Considered one of the holiest days of Islam.

August 2020

Aug. 1: Lammas/Lughnasadh - Pagan

Commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and falls at the halfway point between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox.

Aug. 3: Raksha Bandhan - Hindu

Popularly known as brother-sister day, this day is celebrated by the tying of a sacred thread, promising protection, obligation and care between the one who ties the thread and its recipient.

Aug. 11: Krishna Janmashtami - Hindu

Commemorates the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Aug. 16 - Aug. 23: Paryushana - Jain

This is the most important annual holy event for Jains. It involves prayers and fasting for eight to 10 days and ends with the celebration of Kshamavani, the day of forgiveness.

Aug. 21 - Sept. 18: Muharram - Muslim*

Regarded as one of the four Islamic sacred months of the year, Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, thereby making it the Islamic New Year. The most sacred day within this month is the Day of Ashura. It falls on the tenth day of this month and many people consider it synonymous with the month of Muharram.

Aug. 22: Ganesh Chaturthi - Hindu

Commemorates the arrival of Lord Ganesh to earth from Kailash Parvat (Mount Kailash) with his mother Parvati.

Aug. 28 - Aug. 29: Ashura - Muslim*

Ashura is the tenth day of the month of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. It marks the day that Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, was martyred. Ashura is an important holiday and is commemorated by Shi’a Muslims as well as a recommended day of fasting in Sunni Muslims.

 

September 2020

Sept. 18-20: Rosh Hashanah - Jewish*

Commemorates the Jewish New Year.

Sept. 21: Mabon - Pagan

Commemorates the autumnal equinox, the time of year when days and nights are nearing the same length.

Sept. 27-28: Yom Kippur - Jewish* 

The Jewish day of communal and personal atonement for sins committed during the past year.

October 2020

Oct. 2-9: Sukkot - Jewish*

Known as the festival of tabernacles and the feast of booths, this day celebrates one of Judaism’s three central pilgrimage festivals, along with Passover and Shavuot.

Oct. 9-11: Shemini Atzeret - Jewish* 

Known as the eighth day of assembly, this day may be celebrated at the same time as Simchat Torah or separately to commemorate the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

Oct. 10-11: Simchat Torah - Jewish*

Known as rejoicing in Torah, this day may be celebrated at the same time as Shemini Atzeret or separately to commemorate the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. 

Oct. 17-26: Navaratri - Hindu

Literally meaning “nine nights,” this is a major Hindu event that honors the divine feminine, Devi.

Oct. 25: Dussehra  - Hindu

The tenth day that marks the end of Navaratri and commemorates Lord Rama’s battle and victory over Ravana, exemplifying the victory of good over evil.

Oct. 31: Samhain - Pagan

Commemorates the end of the growing season and the beginning of winter. Takes place at the midpoint between fall equinox and the winter solstice.

November 2020

Nov. 14: Diwali - Hindu 

Spanning five days, this is one of Hinduism’s most well-known holidays. Commemorates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and is usually associated with the Goddess Laxmi.

Nov. 15: Vikram Samvat New Year - Hindu

Commemorates the new year based on the Hindu lunar calendar. This is the official state calendar of Nepal and also used throughout India and by practicing Hindus throughout the world.

Nov. 30: Guru Nanak Jayanti (birth of Guru Nanak) - Sikh

One of the most sacred festivals of Sikhism, this day commemorates the birth of Guru Nanak, the first guru of Sikhism.

December 2020

Dec. 10-18: Hanukkah - Jewish*

Known as the festival of lights, Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army, the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah.

Dec. 21: Winter Solstice/Yule - Pagan

One of the solstices, commemorates the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve - Protestant, Roman Catholic

Commemorates the day and night before Christmas. The two days (Christmas Eve and Christmas) together are considered some of the most culturally significant days in Christiandom.

Dec. 25: Christmas Day - Protestant, Roman Catholic

Commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2021: Kwanzaa

This is a seven day celebration of African American values and traditions and their continued vitality. Kwanzaa is Kiswahili and means “first fruits of the harvest.”

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