Religious Calendar

January-February 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!

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The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony, in which old fires are extinguished and new fires are lit, and the Hopi Holy Cycle, in which the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe are celebrated, begin in January and February, but the dates of observance vary by tribe.  This month is also known as Buxwlaks or the season of blowing needles in aboriginal spirituality, in which the wind knocks loose the foliage of frozen evergreens.  It marks the approach of the new year.

Sunday, January 15

  • Makar Sankranti – Hinduism
    A festival marking the change from decrease to increase of the sun. 
  • World Religion Day – Bahá’í
    A celebration of the teachings of unity found in all religious traditions.  The observance begins at sundown.

Monday, January 16

  • Memorial of Shinran Shonin – Buddhism
    Anniversary of the death in 1263 C.E. of the founder of the Jōdo Shinshū (True Pure Land) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism in Japan.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Day – USA national holiday
    A day remembering the life and legacy of the American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Wednesday, January 18

  • Sultán – Bahá’í
    The first day of Sultán (Sovereignty), the seventeenth month of the Bahá’í year.
  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins – Christianity

Thursday, January 19

  • Swami Vivekananda Jayanti – Hinduism
    A celebration of the birth of Swami Vivekananda, who introduced Hinduism to North America at the World’s Parliament of Religions, held in 1893 in Chicago during the World’s Fair.

Wednesday, January 25

  • Memorial of Hōnen Shonin – Buddhism
    Anniversary of the death in 1212 C.E. of the founder of the Jōdo Shū (Pure Land) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism in Japan.

Friday, January 27

  • Chinese / Vietnamese / Korean New Year – Buddhism / Confucianism / Taoism
    The first day after the new moon is a religious and cultural festival for Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese persons, marking the first day of the year 4715, the Year of the Rooster.

Monday, January 30

  • Jashne Sadeh – Zoroastrianism
    A celebration of the discovery of fire by King Hashang of the Peshdadian dynasty.

Tuesday, January 31

  • Birth of Gurū Har Rai – Sikhism
    A celebration of the birth of the seventh of the Sikh gurūs [1630 – 1661 C.E.], according to the Nanakshahi calendar.

Wednesday, February 1

  • Vasanta Panchami – Hinduism
    A North Indian celebration associated with Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

Thursday, February 2

  • Presentation of Jesus in the Temple – Christianity
    Commemorates Mary and Joseph’s presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, as required by Mosaic law.
  • Imbolc [also known as the Feast of Torches or Lughnassad] – Wicca
    A celebration of beginning growth and the divine generative powers (i.e., the Goddess nurturing her young Son) from which physical and spiritual harvests will come, Imbolc is often an initiatory period.

Friday, February 3

  • Setsunbun-sai – Shintō
    A family celebration of the end of winter; beans are thrown into rooms of a house for good luck, with the shout, “Devils out, Fortune in!”

Sunday, February 5

  • Triodion begins – Christianity (Eastern churches)
    This day marks the beginning of the ten weeks preceding Holy Pascha (Easter).  The term Triodion refers to the book containing the liturgies for the worship services during this time period.
  • Four Chaplains Sunday – Interfaith
    A commemoration of four U.S. Army chaplains—Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Rev. George L. Fox, Fr. John P. Washington, and Rev. Clark V. Poling—who died while saving soldiers from drowning when their troop transport ship, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat in 1943.  The four chaplains are remembered for their courage and their spirit of interfaith collaboration in service to humanity.

Monday, February 6

  • Mulk – Bahá’í
    Beginning of the eighteenth month of the Bahá’í year, the name “Mulk” means “dominion.”   

Friday, February 10

  • Tu B’Shevat – Judaism
    A joyous celebration of the coming spring, including the planting of trees and the conservation of fruits native to Israel, as well as special meals where Jews eat the seven fruits of the land (wheat and barley; grapes; figs; pomegranates; olives; and honey).  The festival begins at sundown.

Tuesday, February 14

  • Valentine’s Day – Western Christianity
    A celebration of love originally connected to the Roman Christian martyr who died in 269 C.E.

Wednesday, February 15

  • Nirvana Day – Buddhism
    In northern Buddhist traditions, this day marks the anniversary of the historical Buddha’s death in ca. 486 B.C.E. and his subsequent entrance into enlightenment or Nirvana.  In southern Buddhist traditions, the Buddha’s death is commemorated during Visakha.

Sunday, February 19

  • Birthday of Kwan Yin Bodhisattva – Buddhism [Mahayana Pure Land tradition]
    A celebration of the birth of the bodhisattva of compassion—an enlightened being who vows to attain final, supreme enlightenment in order to save all sentient beings from suffering.  In the Pure Land tradition, this bodhisattva frequently accompanies Amida Buddha in icons and other depictions.

Friday, February 24

  • Ayyám-i-Há – Bahá’í  [through February 28]
    Starting at sundown, this festival marks the beginning of the intercalary days for festivities, gift giving, and charitable actions.
  • Maha Shivaratri – Hinduism
    A night devoted to the worship of the god Shiva, whose dance creates and destroys and recreates the world; it is marked by vigils and fasting.

Sunday, February 26

  • Cheesefare Sunday [Forgiveness Sunday] – Christianity (Eastern churches)
    This feast marks the last day of eating dairy products prior to Holy Pascha (also known as Easter).  The Great Fast or Great Lent begins at sundown and is marked by forty days of vegetarian fasting, intense prayer, and almsgiving in preparation for Holy Week.  The following day is known as Clean Monday.

Monday, February 27

  • Losar [Tibetan New Year] – Buddhism
    Celebrating the beginning of the year 2144 in the Tibetan calendar.

Tuesday, February 28

  • Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti – Hinduism
    A celebration of the birth of the teacher of Swami Vivekananda, who introduced Hinduism to the United States at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.

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

To subscribe to this calendar and sync it with your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendars, visit and select the “Resources” menu.

Header Photo: N1NJ4, Creative Commons 2.0