July - August 2019
The calendar below, created by Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark, is an excellent way to keep on top of religious high holy days and festivals as they go by. It is especially useful for those in interfaith vocations who need this information on a day-to-day basis.
TIO is cooperating with another “working” religious calendar project being led by Read the Spirit. It extends what we usually mean by religious calendar to include important civic holidays. It identifies major religious holidays more than a year in advance. Most important, it features stories about what these many religious festival events are all about – what they mean, the important stories, the food associated, and how particular events are celebrated. Your own stories of religious holidays, whatever your tradition, are welcomed at the site. Check it out!
* * *
For Native Americans, July marks the season of the Mountain Spirit Dances for the Mescalero Apache people of New Mexico; the Hopi Snake Dances, marking a sixteen-day ritual of purification; the Green Corn Ceremony or Stomp Dance, performed by Seminole and other Oklahoma tribes as a time of renewal and purification; and the Sun Dance, observed by Plains peoples (Arapaho, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arikara, Crow, Sioux, and others) as a time of penitence and sacrifice. It is also known as Xmaay, the season of big berries when summer fruit is ripe for harvesting.
For Native Americans, August marks the season of Wilhoon, the season marking the salmon runs of late summer; the Hopi Snake Dances, marking a sixteen-day ritual of purification; the Stomp Dance, performed by Seminole and other Oklahoma tribes as a time of renewal and purification; the Sun Dance, observed by Plains peoples (Arapaho, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arikara, Crow, Sioux, and others) as a time of penitence and sacrifice; and the Iroquois Green Corn Ceremony, a time of renewal involving dances, fasting, offerings, and readings from the code of Handsome Lake.
Monday, July 15
Chaturmas – Hinduism and Jainism
This day marks the beginning of a four-month period (ending in November) during which time devotees observe some form of vow. Penance, fasting, and other religious observances mark this period. It is considered an inauspicious time for weddings or thread ceremonies.
Tuesday, July 16
Gurū Purnima – Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism
This day celebrates the ancient Hindu sage Krishna Dvaipayana, also known as Veda Vyāsa, who is credited as the compiler of the sacred Vedas, the author of the Eighteen Puranas (supplementary texts), and credited with writing the Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata. The term “gurū” refers to a teacher or remover of darkness. Jains and Buddhists also mark this day as an opportunity to thank their teachers.
Wednesday, July 17
Dharma Day (Asalha Puja Day) – Buddhism
This day commemorates the historical Buddha’s first sermon, called “Turning of the wheel of Dharma (Dhamma),” following his own enlightenment. The following day marks the beginning of the three-month Vassa or “Rains Retreat” for Theravadin Buddhist monks and nuns. This period is a time for training in Dharma studies, meditation practice, and giving religious services to the people.
Sunday, July 21
Feast of St. Mary Magdalene – Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran Christian churches
Also known as the Penitent, Mary Magdalene is celebrated as one of Jesus’ earliest and most faithful disciples, after being healed by him. She is also recognized as a witness to Jesus’ death and the first recorded witness of his resurrection on Easter.
Monday, July 22
Birthday of Emperor Haile Salassi I – Rastafari
Celebrating the birth of Ras [prince or chief] Tafari Makonnen (1892 – 1975 C.E.), who ruled as Emperor of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1974 (officially from 1930 to 1974), and who is professed by faithful Rasta believers as God incarnate.
Birthday of Gurū Har Krishan Sahib Ji – Sikhism
Marking the birth of the 8th and youngest of the 11 Sikh Gurūs (1656 – 1664 C.E.) in the Nanakshahi calendar.
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Qadimi calendar.
Wednesday, July 24
Pioneer Day – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Celebrated annually as the anniversary of the entry of LDS pioneers into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, in Utah in 1847 C.E., after a historic trek across 1,300 miles of wilderness.
Sunday, July 30
Oharai-taisai – Shinto
A purification ceremony to cleanse believers from offenses committed during the first half of the year. A large ring of woven grasses and reeds is placed at the entrance to Shinto shrines, and people walk through the ring as a symbol of inner purification.
Thursday, August 1
Kamál – Bahá’í
The beginning of the eighth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “perfection.”
Lughnassadh [Lammas] – Wicca
The harvest of first fruits, celebrating the harvest of corn and wheat. Wiccan practitioners see this time as a signal of the god Lugh’s decline of strength as the sun rises farther south each day, while the Goddess witnesses this season with sorrow and joy. It is both a somber and celebratory feast day.
Monday, August 5
Feast of the Transfiguration – Christianity (Eastern and many Western churches)
Celebrates the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity as God’s Son to his disciples Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor. In Eastern churches, the celebration begins at sunset; for Western churches, this feast is marked on the following day, Tuesday, August 6th.
Thursday, August 8
Fravardeghan Days [Muktad] begin – Zoroastrianism
A time of memorializing one’s ancestors in preparation for Nowruz [see August 17], according to Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar.
Saturday, August 10
Yaum-al-Arafah – Islam
This day is the most important for Muslim pilgrims undertaking the Hajj journey; believers implore Allah for boundless forgiveness and mercy on the plain of ‘Arafāt, adjacent to the holy city of Mecca.
Tisha B’Av – Judaism
A solemn day of mourning and fasting for the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, as well as other tragedies in Jewish history coinciding with this date, beginning at sundown.
Sunday, August 11
Eid al-Adhá – Islam
This three-day festival of sacrifice begins at sundown and is the concluding act of pilgrimage for Muslims; adherents offer sheep, goats, and camels, whose meat is then distributed to the poor.
Wednesday, August 14
Dormition of the Theotokos or Most Holy Mother of God – Christianity [Eastern churches]
According to the Orthodox Church, this day marks Mary’s death and resurrection by God, as a sign to all believers of their ultimate destiny.
Thursday, August 15
Assumption of the Virgin Mary – Christianity [Catholic churches]
According to the Catholic Church, this day commemorates how, at the end of her life, Jesus’ mother Mary was assumed—body and soul—into heaven, where she intercedes for all believers.
Zhōngyuán Jié [Ghost Festival] – Taoism
According to Chinese Taoist belief, this day is when deceased ancestors visit the homes of the living. Families prepare feasts and set tables with empty chairs so that the living and the dead can share the meal together.
Narali Purnima or Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan – Hinduism
Celebrating the end of monsoon season, marked by throwing coconuts to Varuna, the sea god. During this festival, girls and women tie amulets on their brothers’ wrists for protection against evil.
Saturday, August 17
Nowruz – Zoroastrianism
The start of the New Year for Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar, beginning the year 1389 AY [After Yazdegird III, the last of the Persian Zoroastrian monarchs].
Tuesday, August 20
Asmā’ – Bahá’í
The beginning of the ninth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “names.”
Thursday, August 22
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Shenshai calendar.
Saturday, August 24
Sri Krishna Jayanti or Krishna Janmashtami – Hinduism
A festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu, whose purpose was to destroy the demon Kansa who was responsible for evil’s increase in the world.
Festival of Ksitigarbha (Jizō) Bodhisattva – Buddhism
Celebrating Ksitigarbha (Jizō) Bodhisattva, the savior of beings who suffer in the hellish realms, as well as the guardian of expectant mothers, travelers, and deceased children in Japanese culture.
Monday, August 26
Ullambana – Buddhism
A day when Buddhists make offerings to the Triple Gem—the Buddha, the Dharma [teachings], and the Sangha [monastic community]—on behalf of their ancestors.
Paryusana or Paryushan Parva begins – Jainism
The beginning of an eight-day festival that is considered a holy convocation by Jains. Believers impose restraints on their daily activities by fasting, meditation, and prayer. The last day of Paryusana is called Samvatsari (Tuesday, September 3rd) and is a solemn occasion for examining one’s thoughts and feelings, and for asking forgiveness for offenses committed against others through deeds, words, or thoughts.
Friday, August 30
Ra’s al-Sanat al-Hijriyah: Islamic New Year [First of Muharram] – Islam
Commemorating the migration of the prophet Muhammad and his small band of followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., in order to escape persecution and to establish the first Muslim community. The Islamic year 1441 begins at sundown.
If you want more information about any of these holy days, please contact
UCSF Medical Center Spiritual Care Services at 415-353-1941 (Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark)
Our thanks to the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, the Multifaith Action Society of British Columbia (Canada), BBC’s Religion Website, Peel Schools District Board (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), the Arizona State University Provost’s Office, the NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad, the Anti-Defamation League, Project Interfaith (Omaha, NE), the University of Victoria Faculty of Law (British Columbia, Canada), the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education, and www.interfaithcalendar.org
To subscribe to this calendar and sync it with your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendars, visit ucsfspiritcare.org and select the “Resources” menu.