Religious Calendar

July-August 2017

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, 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.

Saturday, July 22

  • 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.

Sunday, July 23

  • 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.

Monday, 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.

Monday, July 31

  • Kamál – Bahá’í
    The beginning of the eighth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “perfection.”

  • 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.

Tuesday, August 1

  • 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.

Sunday, August 6

  • 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.  

Monday, August 7

  • 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.

Tuesday, August 8

  • Fravardeghan Days [Muktad] begin –  Zoroastrianism
    A time of memorializing one’s ancestors in preparation for Nowruz [see August 18], according to Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar.

Tuesday, 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. 

  • Dormition of the Theotokos or Most Holy Mother of God – Christianity [Orthodox 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.

  • 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.

Friday, August 18

  • Nowruz – Zoroastrianism
    The start of the New Year for Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar, beginning the year 1387 AY [After Yazdegird III, the last of the Persian Zoroastrian monarchs].

Saturday, August 19

  • Asmā’ – Bahá’í
    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. 
  • Paryushana-parva begins [until Saturday, August 26] – Jainism
    The holiest period of the year for the ascetic Shvetambara sect, this festival celebrates Jain ideals through fasting, worship, and reading the life-story of Lord Mahavira from the Kalpasutra.  Believers impose restraints on their daily activities by fasting, meditation, and prayer.  The last day of Paryushana is called Samvatsari (Saturday, August 26) 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. 

Tuesday, August 22

  • Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
    The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Shenshai calendar.

Thursday, August 24

  • 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.

Friday, August 25

  • Ganesh Chaturthi – Hinduism
    A festival celebrating the birth of Ganesh, the god who removes obstacles and brings luck.

Saturday, August 26

  • Das Laxanä Parva begins – Jainism
    The Festival of the Ten Virtues, celebrated over ten days by the Digambara Jains, helps believers to recall and practice forgiveness, tenderness or humility, honesty, contentment or purity, truth, self-restraint, austerities, charity, celibacy, and non-attachment.

Thursday, August 31

  • 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.  


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.

Header Photo: N1NJ4, Creative Commons 2.0