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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.
TEMPLE DAY • Buddhist
Many Buddhists of all traditions pay their respects and pray for good fortune for the new year at their temples.
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.
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.
NO NAME-CALLING WEEK
Annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling and bullying of all kinds.
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.
LUNAR NEW YEAR
On this day, the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese New Years are celebrated.
Black History Month
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.
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.
SHROVE TUESDAY • Western Christian
A day of penitence as well as the last chance to feast before Lent begins. Also known as Mardi Gras.
National Women's History Month
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.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women worldwide.
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.
PURIM • Jewish
The “Feast of Lots” marks the salvation of the Jews of ancient Persia from extermination.
HOLI • Hindu
Also called Holaka or Phagwa, this festival celebrates spring and commemorates various events in Hindu mythology.
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.
The date when night and day are nearly the same length. It marks the first day of the season of spring.
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).
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Call to action to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination worldwide.
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.
RAMA NAVAMI • Hindu
Celebrates the birthday of Rama, king of ancient India, hero of the epic Ramayana, and seventh incarnation of Vishnu.
THERAVADA NEW YEAR • Buddhist
In Theravada countries, the New Year is celebrated on the first full moon day in April.
PASSOVER/PESACH • Jewish
The eight-day “Feast of Unleavened Bread” celebrates Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
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.
GOOD FRIDAY • Christian
Known as Holy Friday in Eastern Christianity, it commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus on the Friday before Easter/Pascha.
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.
EASTER • Christian
Known as Pascha in Eastern Christianity, it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.
YOM HASHOAH • Jewish
“Holocaust Remembrance Day” memorializes the heroic martyrdom of 6 million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
CINCO DE MAYO
In 1862, Mexican forces defeated French occupational forces in the Battle of Puebla.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LGBT Pride Month
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.
ALL SAINTS DAY • Eastern Christian
In Orthodox churches observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost, it commemorates all known and unknown Christian saints.
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.
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.
DHARMA DAY • Buddhist
Also known as Asala Puja, it commemorates the historical Buddha's first discourse following his spiritual awakening.
ADA (AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT) DAY
Commemorates the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities.
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.
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.
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.
LABOR DAY (USA and Canada)
The first Monday in September is celebrated with picnics and parades honoring workers in the two countries.
INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
Call to action for universal literacy.
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.
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.
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.
Italian-, Filipino-, and Polish-Heritage Months and LGBT History Month
NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN DAY (USA)
Not an official government holiday, but most American Indian organizations and tribes do observe this holiday.
COLUMBUS DAY (USA)
Recognizes Christopher Columbus’ 1492 arrival in the New World.
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.
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.
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.
National American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month and Latin American Month
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.
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.
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
Memorializes those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.