Religious and Multicultural Holidays

UMB celebrates diversity and inclusion!

Help us enrich and educate our University community — if you see a holiday missing from our list, please send us a comment! Include the name of the holiday, the date, a brief description, and any related events. This calendar is maintained by the Diversity Advisory Council.

*Please use this calendar as a tool when planning events on campus. These events are for reference and not necessarily endorsed by the University.


 

January 2017

Jan. 1

TEMPLE DAY • Buddhist

Many Buddhists of all traditions pay their respects and pray for good fortune for the new year at their temples.

 

Jan. 15

WORLD RELIGION DAY • Bahá’í

Observance to proclaim the oneness of religion and the belief that world religion will unify the peoples of the earth.

 

Jan. 16

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S BIRTHDAY

The birthday of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated on the third Monday in January.

 

Jan. 16-20

NO NAME-CALLING WEEK

Annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling and bullying of all kinds.

 

Jan. 27

UNITED NATIONS HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

Annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust coinciding with the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945.

 

Jan. 28

LUNAR NEW YEAR

On this day, the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese New Years are celebrated.



February 2017

Black History Month


Feb. 15

NIRVANA DAY • Buddhist

Celebrates the day when the historical Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, upon the death of his physical body. Sometimes celebrated on Feb. 8.

 

Feb. 25

MAHA SHIVARATRI • Hindu

Also called Shiva Ratri, it is the Great Festival of Shiva.

 

Feb. 26 – March 1

AYYÁM-I-HA OR INTERCALARY DAYS • Bahá’í

The Ayyám-i-ha, or “Days of Ha,” are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, celebrating, hospitality, charity, and gift-giving. They are celebrated for four days, five in leap year, before the last month of the Bahá’í year.

 

Feb. 28

SHROVE TUESDAY • Western Christian

A day of penitence as well as the last chance to feast before Lent begins. Also known as Mardi Gras.


March 2017

National Women's History Month

March 1

ASH WEDNESDAY • Western Christian

The first day of Lent for Western Christian churches, a 40-day period of spiritual preparation for Easter, not counting Sundays.

 

March 2 – March 20

NINETEEN-DAY FAST • Bahá’í

Baha'is between 15 and 70 years of age do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset and set aside time for prayer and meditation.

 

March 8

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women worldwide.

 

March 12

MAGHA PUJA • Buddhist

Also known as Sangha Day, it commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 arahants, completely enlightened monks, in the historical Buddha's presence.



March 12

PURIM • Jewish

The “Feast of Lots” marks the salvation of the Jews of ancient Persia from extermination.



March 13

HOLI • Hindu

Also called Holaka or Phagwa, this festival celebrates spring and commemorates various events in Hindu mythology.


March 17

ST. PATRICK’S DAY • Christian

Feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. In the U.S., a secular version is celebrated by people of all faiths through appreciation of all things Irish.

 

March 20

VERNAL EQUINOX

The date when night and day are nearly the same length. It marks the first day of the season of spring.

 

March 21

NOWRÚZ • Zoroastrian

A traditional ancient Iranian festival celebrating the first day of spring and the Iranian New Year. Also celebrated as New Year’s Day in Baha’i tradition (Naw-Ruz).

 

March 21

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

Call to action to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination worldwide.

 

March 31

CESAR CHAVEZ DAY

Honors Mexican-American farm worker, labor leader, and activist Cesar Chavez (1927–1993), who was a nationally respected voice for social justice.


April 2017

April 5

RAMA NAVAMI • Hindu

Celebrates the birthday of Rama, king of ancient India, hero of the epic Ramayana, and seventh incarnation of Vishnu.


April 11-14

THERAVADA NEW YEAR • Buddhist

In Theravada countries, the New Year is celebrated on the first full moon day in April.


April 11–18

PASSOVER/PESACH • Jewish

The eight-day “Feast of Unleavened Bread” celebrates Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage.


April 13

HOLY THURSDAY • Christian

Also known as Maundy Thursday, it is celebrated on the Thursday before Easter commemorating the Last Supper, at which Jesus and the Apostles were together for the last time before the Crucifixion.


April 14

GOOD FRIDAY • Christian

Known as Holy Friday in Eastern Christianity, it commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus on the Friday before Easter/Pascha.

 

April 16

DAY OF SILENCE

Students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.

 

April 16

EASTER • Christian

Known as Pascha in Eastern Christianity, it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

 

April 23

YOM HASHOAH • Jewish

“Holocaust Remembrance Day” memorializes the heroic martyrdom of 6 million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust.

May 2017

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


May 5

CINCO DE MAYO

In 1862, Mexican forces defeated French occupational forces in the Battle of Puebla.

 

May 10

BUDDHA DAY • Buddhist

Also known as Vesak or Visakha Puja, it marks the occasion of the birth, spiritual awakening, and death of the historical Buddha.

 

May 22

NISF SHA’BAN • Islamic

“Night of Repentance” in preparation for the fast of Ramadan. Fixed as the 15th day or middle of the eighth month of Shabaan in the Islamic calendar.

 

May 23

DECLARATION OF THE BAB • Bahá’í

Commemoration of May 23, 1844, when the Báb, the prophet-herald of the Bahá’í Faith, announced in Shíráz, Persia, that he was the herald of a new messenger of God.

 

May 27 – June 25

RAMADAN • Islamic

A month of strict fasting from dawn until dusk in honor of the first revelations of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad.


May 29

MEMORIAL DAY

Initiated originally to honor the dead of the Civil War, this observance now pays homage to the dead of all U.S. wars.

 

May 31 – June 1

SHAVUOT • Jewish

The “Feast of Weeks” celebrates the covenant established at Sinai between God and Israel, and the revelation of the Ten Commandments.

 

June 2017

LGBT Pride Month


June 4

PENTECOST • Christian

Also known as Whitsunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter/Pascha commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and women followers of Jesus. Marks the birth of the Christian Church.
 

June 11

ALL SAINTS DAY • Eastern Christian

In Orthodox churches observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost, it commemorates all known and unknown Christian saints.


June 19

JUNETEENTH

Originally commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, it is now celebrated throughout the U.S. to honor African-American freedom and achievement.

 

June 26 - 28

EID AL-FITR • Islamic

The “Feast of the Breaking of the Fast” marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting from dawn until dusk.


July 2017

July 4

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Anniversary of the United States’ Declaration of Independence in 1776.

 

July 13 - 15

OBON • Buddhist

Also known as Bon, the Japanese Buddhist festival honors the spirits of past ancestors.


July 15

DHARMA DAY • Buddhist

Also known as Asala Puja, it commemorates the historical Buddha's first discourse following his spiritual awakening.

 

July 26

ADA (AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT) DAY

Commemorates the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities.

 

August 2017

Aug. 9

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Celebrates the richness of indigenous cultures and recognizes the challenges indigenous peoples face today, ranging from poverty and disease to dispossession, discrimination, and denial of basic human rights.

 

Aug. 23

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE SLAVE TRADE AND ITS ABOLITION

Memorializes the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, coinciding with the anniversary of the uprising in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that initiated its abolition.

September 2017

Hispanic Heritage Month

Sept. 1 – 5

EID AL-ADHA • Islamic

The “Feast of Sacrifice” concludes the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and is a three-day festival recalling Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.


Sept. 4

LABOR DAY (USA and Canada)

The first Monday in September is celebrated with picnics and parades honoring workers in the two countries.

 

Sept. 8

INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY

Call to action for universal literacy.

 

Sept. 11

PATRIOT DAY (USA)

In honor of the events of 9-11.

 

Sept. 13 - 15

ROSH HASHANAH • Jewish

Beginning of the Jewish New Year and first of the High Holy Days, which marks the beginning of a 10-day period of penitence and spiritual renewal.


Sept. 16

MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY

Commemorates the 1810 revolution that ended Spanish dictatorship. The Independence Day festivities in Mexico begin at midnight on the day of the holiday. At that time, in villages, towns, and cities all over Mexico, the people gather at the “zocalo” or public square. Bands play and people throw confetti and wave flags. At midnight, the president (or in small towns a local public official) reads the “Grito de Dolores” of Father Hidalgo, the organizer and principal leader of the rebellion against the Spaniards. The people chant the “Grito” after the president. He then rings the independence bell as fireworks light up the sky and the dancing and singing continues.

 

Sept. 30

YOM KIPPUR • Jewish

Celebrated by the Jewish as the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, it's also known as the Day of Atonement and is observed with strict fasting and ceremonial repentance.

October 2017

Italian-, Filipino-, and Polish-Heritage Months and LGBT History Month


Oct. 9

NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN DAY (USA)

Not an official government holiday, but most American Indian organizations and tribes do observe this holiday.


Oct. 9

COLUMBUS DAY (USA)

Recognizes Christopher Columbus’ 1492 arrival in the New World.

 

Oct. 9

NATIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S DAY

In 1992, drums from across the U.S. and time zones coordinated ceremonies and observances at noon to celebrate and honor 500 years of resistance and the survival of North American Indigenous people. From that day to the present, Native Americans observe Indigenous People’s Day, not Columbus Day.

 

Oct. 11

NATIONAL COMING OUT (USA)

On Oct. 11, 1987, 500,000 people marched on Washington for gay and lesbian equality. This was the second LGBT demonstration in the nation’s capital and the first display of the NAMES Project–AIDS Memorial Quilt, commemorating those who died from AIDS. Four months after this march, more than 100 gay, lesbian, and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside of Washington, to set a national day to celebrate coming out. They chose the anniversary of the march in Washington.

 

Oct. 19

DIWALI • Hindu

Celebrates the festival of lights, the most colorful and popular festival celebrated with great fervor by Hindu, Janis, and Sikhs. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.

 

November 2017

National American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month and Latin American Month

Nov. 1

EL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (All Saints Day)

A national holiday in Mexico, it is also celebrated in parts of the United States. Mexicans regard this annual holiday as a happy occasion that reunites them with the souls of loved ones. This two-day celebration honors the souls of dead children on Nov. 1 and those of older relatives and friends on Nov. 2. Families decorate tombs in the graveyard and home altars with toys, favorite foods, flowers, bread figures, incense burners, and elaborately fashioned candlesticks. On the morning of the second day, people gather in graveyards and serenade the spirits with brass bands and mariachi music.


Nov. 11

ARMISTICE DAY / VETERANS DAY

Celebrated on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate the ending of World War I in 1918. Also known as Veterans Day, Americans honor the U.S. Armed Services and commemorate the war dead.

 

Nov. 12 - 18

AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK

Celebrates public education and honors individuals who are making a difference in ensuring every child in the U.S. receives a quality education.

 

Nov. 20

TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

Memorializes those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

 

Nov. 23

THANKSGIVING (USA)

 

December 2017

Dec. 1

World AIDS Day

Annual AIDS recognition day to remember those who have died, to acknowledge the need for continued commitment to care for those who are HIV/AIDS-positive, and to support the research to find a cure.

 

Dec. 3 - 24

ADVENT • Christian

Advent is a season of spiritual preparation in observance of the birth of Jesus. In Western Christianity, it starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In Eastern Christianity, the season is longer and begins in the middle of November.


Dec. 6

MAWLID AL-NABI (Also known as MILAD AL-NABI) • Islamic (Shi’a)

The observance of the birthday of Islam founder Prophet Muhammad, which occurs in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. Shi’a Muslims celebrate it five days later than Sunni Muslims.


Dec. 13

SAINT LUCY'S DAY

Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Christians commemorate Saint Lucy, the patron saint of the blind, on this day. She was a virgin martyr who lived in Sicily in the third century.

 

Dec. 13 – 20

CHANUKAH also known as HANUKKAH • Jewish

Known as the Festival of Lights, it is an eight-day festival recalling the war fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom and the rededication of the temple after recapturing it from the Syrians. Each evening candles are lit on the “menorah” (candelabra), adding one candle each night. Chanukah is a time for playing games (Dreidel — played with a spinning top — is a popular Chanukah game.) and singing, for visiting and for giving gifts.


Dec. 21

WINTER SOLSTICE

The first day of winter occurs on or around Dec. 22. This is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and is called Yule (Christians); Yule (Wicca-Northern Hemisphere); and Litha (Wicca-Southern Hemisphere).

 

Dec. 25

CHRISTMAS • Christian

Christmas is the day associated with Jesus’ birth. It is celebrated Dec. 25 by western churches and Jan. 7, the following year, by Eastern Orthodox churches.

 

Dec. 26 – Jan. 1, 2018

KWANZAA

A seven-day African-American holiday started by Mailana Karenga, an African world scholar, in 1966. It is based on the agricultural celebrations of Africa called “the first fruits” celebrations, which are times of harvest, gathering, reverence, commemoration, and recommitment. Therefore, Kwanzaa is a time for achievements, reverence for the Creator and creation, commemoration of the past, recommitment to cultural ideals, and celebration of the good. Kwanzaa, a Swahili word, means “first.” Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths.