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, September marks the season of Genuuqwiikw, the season of mountain trails and the beginning of the fall hunt for game; the Iroquois Green Corn Ceremony, a time of renewal involving dances, fasting, offerings, and readings from the code of Handsome Lake; and the Jicarilla Apache Ghost Dance in New Mexico.
Thursday, September 7
- ‘Izzat – Bahá’í
The beginning of the tenth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “might.”
Pitr-paksha or Mahalay Paksha – Hinduism
The beginning of a two-week period during which Hindu adherents perform shraddha rites to gratify the spirits of their deceased ancestors, including giving food or other donations as a form of charitable service.
Friday, September 8
Nativity of the Mother of God [Theotokos] or Birth of the Blessed Virgin – Christianity
This festival celebrates the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth. In Eastern Orthodox churches she is known by the honorific of Theotokos.
Monday, September 11
Ethiopian New Year – Rastafari
A sacred day for Rastafarians because they consider Ethiopia to be their spiritual homeland, to which they aspire to return.
Tuesday, September 12
Ghambar Paitishahem [through Saturday, September 16] – Zoroastrianism
This festival celebrates the creation of the earth and the summer harvest.
Thursday, September 14
Elevation or Exultation of the Holy Cross – Christianity
This day recognizes the Cross as a symbol of Christ’s love for humankind and God’s victory over death. It also marks the finding of the Holy Cross by St. Helen after it had been stolen in the 7th century C.E. Orthodox churches begin their commemoration at sundown on the preceding day. In the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, this day is known as Meskel and is marked on September 27th.
Wednesday, September 20
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 1439 begins at sundown.
Rosh Hashanah begins – Judaism
Beginning at sundown is New Year’s Day for the year 5778 and the anniversary of the creation of the world. Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) and apples and honey, marking it as the first of the Ten Days of Awe [or Repentance].
Thursday, September 21
Navaratra or Navaratri Dusserha – Hinduism
The beginning of a nine-day festival of the divine mother, honoring Shiva’s wife Durga and seeking her blessings. It is also observed as a celebration recalling the days of Lord Krishna. Fasting and prayer are practiced.
Friday, September 22 (Autumn Equinox)
Shuki-sorei-sai – Shinto
A memorial service similar to the March equinox service (Shunki-sorei-sai), this day is marked by the cleaning and purification of gravesites and the reverence of ancestors as kami, or divine spirits.
Ohigon – Buddhism
A celebration of the equinox that is of particular importance to Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan Buddhists. During this festival, the six Paramitas [virtues] are emphasized: generosity, morality, wisdom, honesty, endeavor, and patience.
Autumn Feast – Native American spirituality
A day to honor the harvest end and the coming and going of the seasons, including prayers, songs, and the telling of tribal stories.
Mabon [Harvest Home] – Wicca
Marking the second or continuing harvest, this festival celebrates life’s encapsulation as a seed to survive the cold winter, as well as the Harvest of the Vine, which symbolizes the divine power to transform the nectar of youth into the wine of elders’ wisdom and spiritual maturity.
Sunday, September 24
Fast of Gedaliah – Judaism
A fast in memory of Gedaliah Ben Ahikam, the governor of Israel during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia, who was assassinated in 581 B.C.E. Following his death, the Jews who had returned to Judah fled to Egypt, thus vacating the land of a Jewish presence and completing the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.
Tuesday, September 26
Mashí’yyat – Bahá’í
The beginning of the eleventh month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “perfection.”
Thursday, September 28
Birth of Confucius – Confucianism
The birthday of the philosopher Confucius [K’ung-tzu] in 551 B.C.E. in the Chinese state of Lu, known today as Shandong Province
Friday, September 29
Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] – Judaism
The holiest day of the Jewish year. To reestablish their relationship with God, Jews ask for forgiveness and forgive others [Kol Nidre], and then they can confess their sins and ask for divine forgiveness. Prayer and fasting begin at sundown on this day and continue through the following day.
St. Michael and All Angels – Christianity
A celebration of the archangel Michael and all angels (from the Greek angelos, “divine messenger”) mentioned in the Bible.
Saturday, September 30
Dashara, Vijaya Dashami, or Dussehra – Hinduism
Celebrates the triumph of Durga, the Divine Mother who manifests fierce compassion, over the forces of evil, as well as commemorating Rama’s victory over the demon Ravanay.
Worldwide General Conference begins – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
This is the largest worship service for Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) and lasts for two days. Conference proceedings are broadcast live over the Internet and through other electronic media.
Sunday, October 1
World Communion Sunday – Christianity
Promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation. Focuses on observance of the eucharist.
‘Āshūrā’ – Islam
Sunni Muslims celebrate this day as the anniversary of Noah’s departure from the Ark on Mount Ararat and the freedom of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Shi’a Muslims mark this date as the anniversary of the martyrdom of Husayn, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, in 680 C.E.
Monday, October 2
Jashan-e Mehregan – Zoroastrianism
A celebratory festival of friendship, righteousness and justice.
Wednesday, October 4
Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi – Christianity
A celebration of the patron saint of animals and ecology and the founder of the Franciscan Roman Catholic religious order, known for its ethic of simplicity and service. Many Christians mark this festival by bringing their animal companions to churches for a blessing.
Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] begins – Judaism
Also known as the Festival of Booths and the Harvest Festival, Jews celebrate this time as a pilgrimage feast and time of thanksgiving. The booths or huts remind Jews of the tents used by the Israelites during their years wandering in the wilderness, as well as the dwellings used by Jewish farmers at harvest time.
Thursday, October 5
Bodhidharma Memorial – Buddhism
This day celebrates the monk (5th – 6th centuries C.E.) who emigrated from India and is credited with transmitting Ch’an [Zen] Buddhism to China.
Friday, October 6
Pavarana – Buddhism
This day is the end of the three-month Vassa or rains retreat observed by Theravadin Buddhist monks.
Sunday, October 8
Karwa Chauth – Hinduism
A day of fasting for married women, in which they dress like new brides and offer prayers for the long lives and safety of their husbands. Husbands offer sweets to their spouses at the end of the fast, once the moon is sighted.
Atmasiddhi Rachna Divas (Creation Day) – Jainism
On this day Jains celebrate that, in 1896, the poet Shrimad Rajchandra-ji (who was a spiritual guide for Mohandas Gandhi) wrote the legendary treatise Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra, which explains the quintessence of Jainism.
Wednesday, October 11
- Shemini Atzeret [Eighth Day of Assembly] – Judaism
This eighth day of Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] features prayers for rain and a good harvest in the coming year. It begins at sundown.
Thursday, October 12
Ghambar Ayathrem – Zoroastrianism [through Monday, October 16]
This festival celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of winter crops, and herds’ return from pasture.
Simchat Torah – Judaism
This festival, also known as “Rejoicing with the Law,” marks the end of Sukkot and the completion of the Torah reading cycle with the beginning of reading the first book again. Jews celebrate this day by singing, dancing, and marching around the synagogue or temple with Torah scrolls. This festival begins at sundown.
Friday, October 13
Nichiren Shonin Memorial – Buddhism
This day celebrates the monk (1222 – 1282 C.E.) who encouraged his followers to devote themselves to the Lotus Sūtra as the exclusive means to enlightenment.
Sunday, October 15
‘Ilm – Bahá’í
The beginning of the twelfth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “knowledge.”
Tuesday, October 17
- Birth of Gurū Ram Das – Sikhism
This date in the Nanakshahi tradition celebrates the birth of the 4th Sikh gurū (1534 – 1581 C.E.), who is remembered for organizing the structure of Sikh society and for composing a four-stanza hymn that is the basis of many Sikh wedding ceremonies.
Thursday, October 19
Diwali (Deepavali) – Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism
The festival of lights and Hinduism’s most popular festival. It is dedicated to the Goddess Kali in Bengal and to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in the rest of India. Diwali is also associated with stories of the destruction of evil by the god Vishnu in one of his many forms, as well as with the coronation of Sri Rama. Sweets and gifts are exchanged, and it is a time for cleaning and preparing for the future. This festival is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains, with this day bearing additional names and significance as shown immediately below.
Bandi Chhor Divas – Sikhism
Called “the day of the prisoner’s release,” this festival marks the return of the sixth gurū, Sri Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him to the holy city of Amritsar after being released from detention in 1619 C.E.
Mahavira Nirvana – Jainism
On this day Jains celebrate that the soul of Lord Mahavir (6th century B.C.E.), the 24th Tirthankara, attained nirvana and release from the cycle of rebirth [moksha].
Friday, October 20
Installation of the Gurū Granth Sahib – Sikhism
This date in the Nanakshahi tradition celebrates the transmission of the gurūship to the Holy Scriptures (the Gurū Granth Sahib Ji) by the tenth gurū, Gobind Singh Ji.
Saturday, October 21
Birth of the Báb — Bahá’í
Anniversary of the birth of the Báb, one of the twin Prophet founders of the Bahá’í faith, in 1819 C.E. His nineteen disciples, known as Letters of the Living, taught his religion throughout 19th century Persia. His shrine is located in Haifa, Israel. Bahá’ís suspend work on this day.
Sunday, October 22
Birth of the Bahá’u’lláh — Bahá’í
Anniversary of the birth of the Bahá’u’lláh (“Glory of God”), the founder of the Bahá’í faith, in Tehran, Persia [modern-day Iran], in 1817 C.E. Devout followers suspend work on this day; some begin their observance of the day on the previous day’s sundown.
Tuesday, October 24
United Nations Day
Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Gurū Tegh Bahadur Ji – Sikhism
This day commemorates the martyrdom of the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurūs (1621-1675 C.E.). He is remembered for defending the Sikh faith, as well as the rights of Hindus and the cause of religious liberty.
Wednesday, October 25
Jnana Panchami – Jainism
On this fifth day of the Jain new year, some believers begin a 36-hour fast and offer prayers and rituals in order to seek right knowledge and transcendent wisdom.
Monday, October 30
Maunajiyaras – Jainism
A day of fasting, silence, and meditation on the five holy beings: monks, teachers, religious leaders, Arihants or Jinas (enlightened masters), and Siddhas (liberated souls). This day is also marked as the birth anniversary of many Tirthankaras or Pathfinders.
Tuesday, October 31(Halloween)
Reformation Day – Christianity [Protestant churches]
This day commemorates October 31, 1517 C.E., when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, eventually leading to the Protestant Reformation in Europe. Most Protestant Christian churches will mark this on Sunday, October 29th.
Samhain – Wicca
Celebration of the Celtic New Year. The dying God returns to the womb of the Goddess in preparation for rebirth at Yule. The souls of ancestors and those who have died during the turning of the past year’s wheel are remembered. Vegan Wiccans harvest nuts, the kernels of which symbolize wisdom.
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.