Religious Calendar

January - february 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!

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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.  It is also the season of K’aliyee, the time of the north wind that blows off glaciers and icecaps that linger from the last ice age.

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.

Wednesday, 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.

Friday, January 18

  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins – Christianity

Saturday, January 19

  • Sultán – Bahá’í
    The first day of Sultán (Sovereignty), the seventeenth month of the Bahá’í year.

Sunday, January 20

  • 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.

  • World Religion Day – Bahá’í
    A celebration of the teachings of unity found in all religious traditions.  The observance begins at sundown.

Monday, January 21

  • 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.

  • Mahāyāna New Year – Buddhism
    This celebration falls on the first full moon day in January for Buddhists who practice in the Mahāyāna (Great Vehicle) stream.  By contrast, in Theravadin countries (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Laos) the new year is celebrated in April, while Tibetan Buddhists generally celebrate it in March.

Friday, 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.

Wednesday, January 30

  • Jashne Sadeh – Zoroastrianism
    A celebration of the discovery of fire by King Hashang of the Peshdadian dynasty; it is a festival in which a large bonfire is built as an act of defiance to drive back the winter.

Thursday, 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.

Saturday, 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.  In the Eastern churches, this day is known as the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord.

  • 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.

Sunday, February 3

  • 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.

  • 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!”

Tuesday, February 5

  • 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 4717, the Year of the Earth Pig or Boar.

  • Birthday of Maitreya Bodhisattva – Buddhism [Pure Land schools]
    Marking the birth of Maitreya, who will come at the end of time to renew the pristine Buddhist teachings. 

Thursday, February 7

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

Sunday, February 10

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

Thursday, February 14

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

Friday, 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.

Saturday, February 16

  • Losar [Tibetan New Year] – Buddhism
    Celebrating the beginning of the year 2146 in the Tibetan calendar.

Sunday, February 17

  • 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.

Tuesday, February 19

  • Lantern Festival – Taoism
    This festival marks the end of the new year’s celebration in China, with the entrance of the first full moon.  Children venture out to temples with paper lanterns, solving riddles written on the lanterns.

Monday, February 25

  • Ayyám-i-Há – Bahá’í  [through March 1]
    Starting at sundown, this festival marks the beginning of the intercalary days for festivities, gift giving, and charitable actions.


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