Cultural and Religious Oberservances - ASU Mountain Home Campus
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Our thanks to Dr. Ken Coopwood, Vice President of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Missouri State
University, for allowing ASUMH to include the following list of cultural and religious observances. Visit the MSU
Office of Diversity and Inclusion website at

Gatan-sai (New Years)

Religion/Culture: Shinto

Gantan-sai is the Shinto celebration of the new year (oshogatsu). This day is one of the most popular for shrine visits, and many pray for inner renewal,
health, and prosperity. PBS Multifaith Calendar

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Religion/Culture: Catholic

Eight days after the feast of the birth of Christ, we remember the Blessed Virgin Mary by celebrating her divine motherhood. As the Mother of God,
Mary is known as Theotokos, which means the "God-Bearer". It is fitting to honor Mary as Mother of Jesus, following the birth of Christ. When Catholics
celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, we are not only honoring Mary, who was chosen among all women throughout history to bear God
incarnate, but we are also honoring our Lord, who is fully God and fully human. Calling Mary "Mother of God" is the highest honor we can give her. It is
a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, who should attend Mass on this day.

Epiiphany/Three Kings Day

Religion/Culture: Christian

In western Christian tradition, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. It goes by other names in various church traditions. In Hispanic and Latin culture,
as well as some places in Europe, it is known as Three Kings’ Day (Span: el Dia de los Tres Reyes, la Fiesta de Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos;
Dutch: Driekoningendag). Is a day in which we celebrate the three wise me came coming to visit Jesus. They brought Him gifts: gold, frankincense,
and myrrh. In Latin America this day we celebrate by bringing gifts to family and friends. Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and
the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth
Day. In following this older custom of counting the days beginning at sundown, the evening of January 5th is the Twelfth Night. This is an occasion for
feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King's Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany (a King's Cake is part of the observance of
Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA). More information

Russian Orthodox Christmas

Religion/Culture: Eastern Christian

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, January 7th has become an official national holiday. This is the date of the Russian Orthodox Christmas; Nativity
of Christ; celebration. Many Orthodox Christian traditions have adopted December 25th for their Nativity or Christmas celebration which culminates
with the observance of Theophany (Feast of the Manifestation), the Baptism of Our Lord, on January 6th; January 20th on the old calendar. More

Makar Sankranti (Pongol)

Religion/Culture: Hindu

Falling just after the winter solstice and a bountiful harvest, Pongal marks the season of celebration and joyous activities and it is celebrated
continuously for four days. Pongal also marks the beginning of a New Year and is the day to praise and thank God with full devotion, faith and sincerity
of heart. The festival covers all living beings including humans, cattle and birds and crops. Even the insects are not overlooked and offered rice and
flour, in the form of 'Kollam', on the entrance way of the houses. Thus, Pongal is a day for peace and happiness for all. More information

Martin Luther King Day

Religion/Culture: National Observance

to nonviolence, his courage, and the moral power of his vision, eloquently expressed in masterful oratory and writings, won him the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1964. Toward the end of his life King became convinced of the interrelatedness of all forms of social, economic, and military oppression, and
broadened the sphere of his activism. He spoke out against U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam and was preparing to lead a massive Poor People's
March on Washington when he was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, while helping to organize the city’s sanitation workers. Dr. Martin Luther
King's birthday is observed nationally on the third Monday in January.

Lunar New Year

Religion/Culture: China and other Asian Countries

This is the beginning of a three-day celebration of the Chinese New Year, although traditionally the New Year celebration extends for fifteen days
until the Lantern Festival. The festivities mark the beginning of year 4709 (The Year of the Rabbit) since the mythical founding of the Chinese people.
On New Year's Eve, the Kitchen God returns from heaven to the shrine prepared by each family, where he is welcomed back with firecrackers and
offerings. New Year's Day is a day when all business accounts are settled and grudges forgotten. Traditional Chinese celebrate New Year's Day as a
birthday and count themselves one year older. The Chinese celebrate by eating noodles to signify a long life and pork dumplings called jiao zi, which
means "midnight" or "the end and the beginning of time." A Chinese coin is hidden in one of the dumplings, and the person who finds it will have good
luck over the coming year. Children receive decorated red envelopes with good luck money inside. Celebrations include fireworks, a dragon dance and
the beating of drums and cymbals, visits to temples, and prayers for blessings in the new year.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: An appropriate greeting is "Happy New Year." In Chinese, the greeting is Gung Hay Fat Choy (Cantonese
pronunciation), Gungshi Shin Nien (Mandarin pronunciation).

African American History Month

Religion/Culture: National Observance

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park
Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who
struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would
prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he
founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was
first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was
overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars
and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been
made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History
Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and
the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to
honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the
first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of
Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And
the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all
year. (Excerpt from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.) More


Religion/Culture: Wiccan

Imbolc, which like all Wiccan holidays begins at sundown on the day before, is a celebration of fire and light and the return of life. Wicca is the common
term for many different traditions of Neo-Pagan nature religions that celebrate seasonal and life cycles. Originating as agricultural festivals going back
for thousands of years, many Sabbat practices were incorporated into Roman, Greek, and other traditions and also found their way into subsequent
Western religions. Pagans and Wiccans are not anti-Christ or in opposition to any religion. Their beliefs and practices focus on the earth's seasons and

the natural cycles of the world. They stress reverence for nature and belief in ecological principles. As such, Pagans and Wiccans are largely pacifist
in nature. Their only "rule" is to "harm none." Pagans and Wiccans believe that the divine is in everything, and that there are multiple deities and many
different pathways to the divine. They also believe in reincarnation. The circle with five points, the "Pentacle," is the most common symbol used in
Wicca. Its five points symbolize Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit, in the circle of eternity. Countries with large Wiccan populations include the United
Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Holland.

Mawlid-al-Nabi (Muhammed's birthday)

Religion/Culture: Islam

Mawlid an Nabi means "the birth of the Prophet." This day celebrates the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. In some sects, the day
is spent reciting litanies and special sermons, honoring religious dignitaries, gift giving, and feasting. PBS Multifaith Calendar

Lantern Festival

Religion/Culture: Chinese Cultural Festival

This celebrates the end of the New Year season. In the Republic of China people make elaborate lanterns to hang in the temples and hold contests to
choose the most beautiful one. They also write riddles on the lanterns and compete to solve them. In the People's Republic of China the lanterns are
hung in public parks.

Tu Bishvat

Religion/Culture: Judaism

On Tu B'Shevat we celebrate a New Year for the Trees, rejoicing in the fruit of the tree and the fruit of the vine, celebrating the splendid, abundant gifts
of the natural world which give our senses delight and our bodies life.

Tu B'Shevat marks the beginning of spring in Israel. Sustaining rains are at the peak of their power and the world responds, brimming with buds of
fragrant life. To mark this moment, school children plant trees. Often these trees have been provided by the contributions of Jewish students abroad
through the good offices of the Jewish National Fund.

For Jews outside of Israel, Tu B'Shevat is a celebration of the renewal of vision and awareness, a celebration of connections and connectedness--to
our own inner-selves, to the social world of human beings, and to the natural world and its Source. More information

Recognizing the Holiday/Festival: Common practice is planting trees.

Maha Sivaratri (Shiva's Night)

Religion/Culture: Hindu

This festival honors Shiva who, along with Vishnu and Krishna, is one of the most important deities in Hinduism. It is observed in the spring and is
celebrated with fasting, prayer, and meditation.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Fasting is part of celebrating this holiday. Check before inviting someone to lunch or hosting a meal. Before
arranging any event involving food, check to see if invitees are following a special Maha Shivaratri diet.

Ash Wednesday

Religion/Culture: Christian

This marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period of prayer and fasting preceding Easter Sunday. It is observed in memory of Jesus' 40 days of fasting
in the desert. In the early centuries of Christianity, there were strict requirements for fasting during the period of preparation for Easter. Although these
rules have been relaxed in the Western church, many Roman Catholics and Protestants choose to give up a favorite food or activity during Lent. There
are many symbolic meanings to the use of ashes on this holiday. Generally, ashes symbolize death. The priest or minister's placing of ashes on one's
forehead in the shape of a cross is part of the preparation for fasting and resistance to temptation by those observing Lent that ends in the symbolic
renewal of life on Easter. The word Lent comes from Middle English lenten or lente, from the Old English lencten or lengten, meaning spring, the time
of year when the days begin to lengthen.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Before inviting someone to lunch or hosting a meal, check to see whether invitee is observing a special diet for this


Religion/Culture: Christian

Lent is the 40 day period (6 weeks) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday in observance of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting.

Lent is generally observed by abstinence from certain foods, intensified private and public prayer, self-examination, confession, personal improvement,
repentance and restitution for sins committed, and almsgiving.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Religion/Culture: National observance

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month thanks to a 1987 Presidential Proclamation which was the direct result of the advocacy efforts
of The Arc. A lot has changed since then: more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are living and thriving in their communities
rather than institutions, there are more opportunities in education and employment, more protections in health care, the legal system and other areas
of human rights, there are more positive and accurate portrayals of people with I/DD in the arts, the list goes on. But we must remember that many of
those advancements were hard won. Self-advocacy and advocacy on behalf of those with I/DD was the impetus for many of the positive changes in
our society, such as the proclamation that recognized DD Awareness Month. More information

Women's History Month

Religion/Culture: National Celebration

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park
Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment
to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.

The celebration was met with positive response, and schools began to host their own Women’s History Week programs. The next year, leaders from
the California group shared their project at a Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. Other participants not only became determined to
begin their own local Women’s History Week projects but also agreed to support an effort to have Congress declare a national Women’s History Week.
In 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) cosponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a “Women’s
History Week.” In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to expand the celebration to the entire month of March. Since then,
the National Women’s History Month Resolution has been approved every year with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

More information


Religion/Culture: Judaism

This festive holiday celebrates the rescue of the ancient Persian Jews from a plot to destroy them. The king's advisor, Haman, cast lots to choose the
day for carrying out his plan. Esther, the Jewish queen, persuaded her husband to spare the Jews. Fasting on the day before Purim commemorates
Esther's fasting before seeing the king to plead for the Jewish people. The "Megillah," the story of Purim, is read in the synagogue. Children twirl
gragers (noisemakers) to drown out Haman's name each time it is mentioned. Homentashen, special pastries in the form of Haman's hat, are eaten.
Gifts are distributed to the poor as well as exchanged among family and friends.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: The traditional food, homentashen, is available at most bakeries. "Happy Purim" or simply "Happy Holiday" are
appropriate greetings.


Religion/Culture: Hindu

Holi, the festival of colors, celebrates the coming of spring throughout India and the new harvest of the winter crop. It is celebrated over two days, Holi
and Dhuleti, also known as chhoti holi and badi holi. Celebrations begin on the full moon night of the Hindu month of Phalgun, when large bonfires
are lit to cleanse the air of evil spirits and to symbolize the destruction of Holika, for whom the festival is named. Newly harvested grains, coconuts,
and sweets are thrown into the fire as offerings, followed by singing and dancing around the bonfire. When the fire dies down, water is splashed on
the embers, and everyone applies the ash to their forehead. Some of the ash is kept in the home to apply to children's foreheads to protect them
against evil throughout the year. The following day is the festival of colors, a riotous and exuberant celebration of throwing colored powder, or gulal, on
friends and spraying them with colored water, playing games, folk dancing, singing, feasting, and general merrymaking. Holi is usually observed in late
February or in March.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Hindus do not eat meat or drink alcoholic beverages. Most are strict vegetarians. "God bless you with prosperity and
happiness" or "I wish you happiness and prosperity" are appropriate greetings for all Hindu holidays.

Ostara (Spring Equinox)

Religion/Culture: Wiccan/Pagan

Spring Equinox celebrates the renewed life of the Earth that comes with the Spring. It is a solar festival, celebrated when the length of the day and the
night are equal (this happens twice a year, at Spring and Autumn Equinox).

This turn in the seasons has been celebrated by cultures throughout history who held festivals for their gods and goddesses at this time of year.
Aphrodite from Cyprus, Hathor from Egypt and Ostara of Scandinavia. The Celts continued the tradition with festivities at this time of year.

To celebrate Spring Equinox some Pagans carry out particular rituals. For instance a woman and a man are chosen to act out the roles of Spring God
and Goddess, playing out courtship and symbolically planting seeds. Egg races, egg hunts, egg eating and egg painting are also traditional activities at
this time of year. More information

Baha'i New Year (Naw Ruz)

Religion/Culture: Baha'i

The Baha'i year consists of 19 months with 19 days in each month. The new year is preceded by a 19-day period of fasting beginning on March 2
and ending on March 20, during which Baha'is set time aside for prayer and meditation. Children under 15, the ill, and pregnant women and nursing
mothers are exempt from the fast. Baha'i days begin at sunset, so the new year starts at sundown on March 20.

Palm Sunday

Religion/Culture: Christian

Palm Sunday, the final Sunday before Easter Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week. Christian churches distribute palms on Palm Sunday to
commemorate Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest and Crucifixion on Good

This day marks the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and occurs one week before Easter. His arrival was greeted with people holding palm branches
to honor Him. Christians attend worship on this day and, in some churches, palm branches are used during the service. More information

Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping Day)

Religion/Culture: Chinese Cultural Festival

This public holiday is the only traditional Chinese holiday celebrated according to the solar calendar. This is a day for paying homage to one's
ancestors by visiting graves and leaving flowers and food.


Religion/Culture: Catholicism

The Triduum is the three-day celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday. "Holy
Thursday- Celebrated by a reenactment of the last supper at an evening mass. There is also a washing of the feet ceremony to remind us that Christ
washed the feet of his disciples.

Good Friday- Celebrated by stations of the cross at 3pm when it is believed Christ died. No transubstantiation is allowed to be performed today, and it
is a day of fasting.

Holy Saturday- No Transubstantiation are to be performed until sundown. At sundown an Easter Vigil celebration is said. This mass is twice as long as
usual. This is the only night of the liturgical year that new members can be confirmed to the church without the bishop present. The mass also includes
the lighting of the new Easter candle, the creation story and much more." More information

Maundy Thursday

Religion/Culture: Christian

Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, is the Thursday of Holy Week, commemorating the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the
Sacrament of Ordination. Holy Thursday also celebrates the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot,
events that took place on the night before Jesus' crucifixion. The Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday begins the Triduum, which
is the three-day celebration of the heart of the Christian faith: Christ's death and resurrection. The Paschal Triduum begins on the evening of Holy
Thursday and concludes with the Evening Prayer (Vespers) of Easter. More information
Observance information

Good Friday

Religion/Culture: Christian

Good Friday is the Friday within Holy Week, and is a time of fasting and penance, commemorating the anniversary of Christ's crucifixion and death. For
Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, etc), Good Friday commemorates not just a historical event, but the sacrificial death of Christ, which with the
resurrection, comprises the heart of the Christian faith. More information

Recognizing the Holiday/Festival: Worship services worldwide

Hanuman Jayanti

Religion/Culture: Hindu

Hanuman Jayanti is the birthday of Hanuman, a monkey god and devotee of Rama. Seen as a symbol of physical strength and perseverance, Hindus
often perform special chants to Hanuman when they are faced with obstacles. On this day, worshipers fast and visit temples, where they apply a tilak
of sindhoor (vermillion) from Hanuman’s body to their forehead for good luck. This holiday is especially celebrated in northern India. PBS Multicultural

Pesach (Passover)

Religion/Culture: Judaism

Pesch (Passover) This holiday, which is observed for eight days, celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses, an Israelite
born into slavery, raised in the Pharaoh's household, and later banished as a young man for defending his people, returned to Egypt and confronted
the Pharaoh in the name of God, demanding freedom for his people. The Pharaoh capitulated only after God sent ten plagues, the last of which killed
the first son of every Egyptian family, including that of the Pharaoh. The Israelites marked their doors to identify their homes for the angel of death, who
passed over and spared them. Moses then led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years until they reached Palestine. The celebration of Passover,
a spring festival commemorating freedom and new life, begins the previous evening with a Seder, a meal during which the story of Passover is read
from the Haggadah. The menu includes a number of traditional foods such as matzoh, or unleavened bread, which recalls the unleavened bread eaten
by the Israelites in the desert.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: For the eight days of Passover, Jews observing the holiday abstain from eating any foods containing leavening
components, such as bread, cake, and donuts. As a substitute, Jews eat unleavened bread called matzoh. In addition, foods made special for
Passover can be found at any Kosher bakery or delicatessen. Before arranging any event involving food, check to see if invitees are following a special
Passover diet, particularly whether they are refraining from eating any bread or other baked goods. "Have a happy holiday" is an appropriate greeting.

Jews refrain from work on the first two and last two days of Pesach.

Rawanda Genocide Commemoration

Religion/Culture: Rwanda

In Rwanda, the genocide of Tutsis is remembered each year on April 7th, all peoples go to memorial sites for mourning and remembering the victims.
The Genocide of Tutsis is internationally recognized and is remembered in some other countries.

Recognizing the Holiday/Festival: From the 7th to the 14th of April each year, a week is taken as a time of mourning, in all governmental and private
services, the work is scheduled only in the morning while in the afternoon people go in conferences for listening to testimonial of survivors, talking
about events and how to rebuilt reconciliation. At the end of the week they go back again to the memorial sites to make a terminate the week of
remembering by pouting flowers on tombs.

Easter Sunday

Religion/Culture: Christian

This is the holiest day for Christians. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after he was crucified and died in Jerusalem. It is Jesus' suffering and
death on the cross, often referred to as the "passion," followed by his resurrection that is central to Christian faith. Easter culminates the penitential
period that starts with Ash Wednesday. Palm Sunday, which marks the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, occurs one week before Easter. Easter is a
joyous holiday, since it marks for Christians the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. In addition to its religious significance,
Easter is also celebrated as a spring holiday with themes of rebirth, gathering together with family and friends, and sharing special foods. Jehovah's
Witnesses do not celebrate this holiday.

Eastern Orthodox Christian Easter

Religion/Culture: Eastern Orthodox Christian

Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar their Western brothers and sisters.

Greeks mainly color eggs red (scarlet) to signify the blood of Christ. They use hard-boiled eggs (painted red on Holy Thursday) which are baked into
twisted sweet-bread loaves or distributed on Easter Sunday; people rap their eggs against their friends' eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg
is considered lucky. More information

Day of Silence

Religion/Culture: LGBT

The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) annual day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their supporters. Students take a day-long vow of silence to symbolically represent the
silencing of LGBT students and their supporters. The Day of Silence has been held every year in April since 1996 (usually on April 20).

On the appointed day, students maintain verbal silence either for the entire day or a portion of the day, such as during the lunch break. During their
period of silence, participating students may hand out printed cards explaining the nature of their protest. This may be supplemented by additional texts
or images.

Some school organizers also create or purchase pins or stickers to put on lockers and t-shirts. Others dress in all black, with rainbow ribbons or gags
to emphasize the cause and their presence. More information

First Day of the Rivdan Festival

Religion/Culture: Baha'i

Festival of Ridvan : Baha'i. On the first, ninth, and twelfth day of the Baha'i month of Ridvan (April 21, 29, and May 2), Baha'is commemorate the
declaration of Baha'u'llah in 1863 of his mission as the last messenger of God to the world. Although Baha'is observe all twelve days, these three days
are ones on which they refrain from work. The word "Ridvan" means paradise, and refers to the garden in Baghdad where Baha'u'llah proclaimed his
mission as the prophet of God.

Ninth Day of the Rivdan Festival

Religion/Culture: Baha'i

Festival of Ridvan : Baha'i. On the first, ninth, and twelfth day of the Baha'i month of Ridvan (April 21, 29, and May 2), Baha'is commemorate the
declaration of Baha'u'llah in 1863 of his mission as the last messenger of God to the world. Although Baha'is observe all twelve days, these three days
are ones on which they refrain from work. The word "Ridvan" means paradise, and refers to the garden in Baghdad where Baha'u'llah proclaimed his
mission as the prophet of God.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Religion/Culture: National Celebration

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific
encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands),
Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New
Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

Like most commemorative months, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York
and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific
Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On
October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W.
Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific
American Heritage Month was signed into law.The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United
States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers
who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

More information


Religion/Culture: Pagan/Wiccan

Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of
the coming year. Beltane is observed on May 1.

Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a
fruitful year for their families and fields.

Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening.
These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn. More information

Twelfth Day of the Rivdan Festival

Religion/Culture: Baha'i

On the first, ninth, and twelfth day of the Baha'i month of Ridvan, Baha'is commemorate the declaration of Baha'u'llah in 1863 of his mission as
the last messenger of God to the world. Although Baha'is observe all twelve days, these three days are ones on which they refrain from work. The
word "Ridvan" means paradise, and refers to the garden in Baghdad where Baha'u'llah proclaimed his mission as the prophet of God.


Religion/Culture: Judaism

Shavuot, taking place seven weeks after Passover, is the festival of the first fruits, and the weeks between are the most important in the harvesting
season. The holiday is also celebrated in commemoration of the day when Moses received the Torah and the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Many Jews restrict their diet during this period to dairy foods. Popular dishes include cheese blintzes, cheesecake,
and cheese knishes, all of which can be found at a Jewish delicatessen.

Memorial Day

Religion/Culture: American Cultural Celebration

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
— established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that
Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington
officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan
Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and
singing hymns.

Russia Day

Religion/Culture: Russian

The day that the USSR officially ended. Russia's newest holiday, which commemorates the adoption in 1991 of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the
Russian Federation. Celebrated on June 12 of every year. More information


Religion/Culture: National Celebration

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States
and beyond.

Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a
month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-
improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the
country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to
influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our
society. More information


Religion/Culture: Pagan/Wiccan

Solstice, or Litha means a stopping or standing still of the sun. It is the longest day of the year and the time when the sun is at its maximum elevation.

This date has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have been amazed by the great power of the sun. The Celts celebrated with
bonfires that would add to the sun's energy, Christians placed the feast of St John the Baptist towards the end of June and it is also the festival of Li,
the Chinese Goddess of light.

Like other religious groups, Pagans are in awe of the incredible strength of the sun and the divine powers that create life. For Pagans this spoke in the
Wheel of the Year is a significant point. The Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height
of her power and fertility. For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that
creates the harvest's fruits. More information

Dragon Boat Festival

Religion/Culture: Chinese Cultural Festival

This public holiday honors Ch' Yuan, China's first major poet, who drowned himself in 278 B.C.E. to protest the injustice and corruption of his prince's
government. In the traditional dragon boat races, teams from different towns compete in long boats with bows shaped like large dragon heads. The
customary holiday food is a dumpling made of rice with a sweet filling wrapped in a bamboo leaf.

4th of July

Religion/Culture: American Cultural Celebration

Independence Day honors the birthday of the United States of America and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It's a day
of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks, and a reason to fly the American flag. More information

Martyrdom of the Bab

Religion/Culture: Baha'i

This date marks the execution of The Bab (The Gate), the founder of the Baha’i faith, on July 9, 1850. To mark this day, Baha’is read special prayers at
noon, the time at which The Bab was killed. This is also a day of rest, and no work is to be done. PBS Multifaith Calendar


Religion/Culture: Islam

Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is the holiest month. It recognizes Muhammad’s divine revelation from Allah, as recorded in the
Qur’an. During this period, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and time is focused on prayer, charity and self-reflection.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: During this month, Muslims who have reached puberty may take no food or drink from sunrise to sunset. Observant
Muslims pray and read the Qur'an, and are encouraged to give generously to charity during the month of Ramadan. Before inviting someone to lunch
or hosting a meal, check to see whether invitee is observing the fast for this period. Common greetings include Ramadan Mubarak, "Wishing you the
blessings of Ramadan," and "Congratulations on the arrival of Ramadan."

Lughnasadh/ Lammas

Religion/Culture: Pagan/Wiccan

Lammas, also called Lughnasadh (pronounced loo'nass'ah), comes at the beginning of August. It is one of the Pagan festivals of Celtic origin which
split the year into four.

Celts held the festival of the Irish god Lugh at this time and later, the Anglo-Saxons marked the festival of hlaefmass - loaf mass or Lammas - at this

For these agricultural communities this was the first day of the harvest, when the fields would be glowing with corn and reaping would begin. The
harvest period would continue until Samhain when the last stores for the winter months would be put away.

Although farming is not an important part of modern life, Lughnasadh is still seen as a harvest festival by Pagans and symbols connected with the
reaping of corn predominate in its rites. More information

Qixi Festival

Religion/Culture: China

Qixi Festival ; literally "The Night of Sevens", also known as Magpie Festival, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese
calendar (which is August of western calendars). It inspired Tanabata in Japan, Chilseok, in Korea, and Thá in Vietnam. It has sometimes been called
Chinese Valentine's Day since the late 1990s.

Girls traditionally demonstrate their domestic arts on this day and make wishes for a good husband. Qixi originated during the Han Dynasty. More

Eid al-Fitr

Religion/Culture: Islam

Eid al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan recognizes Muhammad’s divine revelation from Allah, as
recorded in the Qur’an. During this period, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and time is focused on prayer, charity and self-reflection. On Eid al Fitr,
Muslims celebrate the end of fasting, and give thanks to Allah for giving them the strength to practice self-control during Ramadan. This is also a time
for forgiveness and helping others.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on these dates (work holiday). Dates are
determined by the lunar calendar. Eid al Fitr is a three day celebration.

Women's Equality Day

Religion/Culture: National Celebration

The U.S. Congress designated August 26 as "Women's Equality Day" to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in
1920. Gaining voting rights for women took over seventy years and a massive, yet peaceful civil rights movement where men and women across the
country combined forces to fight for equal voting rights for women. The observance not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment but
also calls attention to women's continuing efforts toward full equality.

Workplaces, libraries, organizations and public facilities participate with programs, displays, video shows, women's history tours or other activities.

Krishna Janmashthami

Religion/Culture: Hindu

This is one of the great Hindu night festivals. Worshippers fast and go to temples to see dance dramas enacting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna,
one of the incarnations of Vishnu and one of the most popular deities in Hinduism. Krishna Janmashthami is celebrated in August.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Keep in mind that Hindus neither eat meat nor drink alcoholic beverages. "God bless you with prosperity and
happiness" or "I wish you happiness and prosperity" are appropriate greetings for all Hindu holidays.

Onam (Harvest Festival)

Religion/Culture: Kerala, India

Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham, usually in August or September).
There are actually four days of Onam. The most important day of Onam (known as Thiru Onam) is the second day. Festivities actually commence 10
days before this day, with the preparation of floral arrangements (pookalam) on the ground in front of homes. More information

Labor Day

Religion/Culture: American Cultural Celebration

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American
workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Religion/Culture: National Celebration

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and
contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988
to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public
Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18,
respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period. Check the MSU Master Calendar for campus
events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. More information

Independence Day (El Día de Independencia)

Religion/Culture: Mexico

On September 16, 1810, in the small town of Dolores, in the province of Guanajuato in Mexico, a handful of people were summoned by a parish priest
to take up arms against the Spanish colonial government. This began the fight for independence that ended 350 years of Spanish rule. To this day, the
church bell that was used to call people to revolt hangs in the National Palace in Mexico City and is rung on the eve of September 16 by the President.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Celebrated by people of Mexican origin throughout the world and in such places in the United States as East Los
Angeles, Austin, and El Paso, this is a day when Mexican Americans often hang Mexican flags at their homes. In addition to parades and fairs, the
day's festivities always involve traditional antojitos, most aptly described as a variety of finger foods, Mexican candies, and punch. Punch, ponche, is a
drink made of fruits that are in season: guayabas, sugarcane, raisins, and apples. The music of mariachi bands is also common.

Rosh Hashanah

Religion/Culture: Judaism

The holiday, like most Jewish holidays, begins at sundown on the evening before the first (full) day of the holiday. This begins the Jewish New Year
and the Jewish month of Tishri. Rosh Hashanah signifies the beginning of the Days of Awe, a period of serious reflection about the past year and the
year to come. This period, which continues until Yom Kippur, is a time for asking forgiveness from both God and people and for committing oneself to
live a better life in the year to come. Traditionally, this is the time that God decides the fate of each Jew in the new year.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: There are many traditional foods eaten during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Eating apple
dipped in honey or some other sweet dish is common. Honey cake is also popular. Either would make an appropriate and welcome gift. Common
greetings include L'shana Tova, "Happy New Year," "Have a healthy and sweet New Year," and "May you be inscribed for a year of good health and

Ganesh Chaturthi

Religion/Culture: Hindu

Ganesha Chaturthi, the great Ganesha festival, also known as 'Vinayak Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chavithi' is celebrated by Hindus around the world as
the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September) and the grandest and most elaborate of
them, especially in the western India state of Maharashtra, lasts for 10 days, ending on the day of 'Ananta Chaturdashi'. More information

Mabon (Autumn Equinox)

Religion/Culture: Wiccan

Mabon is the Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a time when the day is as long as the night, and people prepare for the coming winter
days by storing their harvest. For more information about Wicca, see information posted for Imbloc.

International Week of the Deaf

Religion/Culture: Global Event

The last full week in September is Deaf Awareness Week. It is also known as the International Week of the Deaf (or International Week of Deaf
People). The purpose of Deaf Awareness Week is to draw attention to deaf people, their accomplishments and their issues.

During this week, many deaf organizations hold activities to celebrate and conduct public information campaigns to educate people about deafness.
Companies and agencies often mark the event, and schools, colleges, and universities hold awareness events. More information

Yom Kippur

Religion/Culture: Judaism

Occurring on the tenth day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur is also known as the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is
considered the holiest day of the Jewish year, in which people atone for the sins of the past year. It is solemnly observed with ceremonial repentance,
strict fasting and refraining from work for a twenty-four hour period that begins at sundown.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Chung-ch'iu)

Religion/Culture: China

This festival is associated with traditional moon lore. For example, girls wish upon this moon for a good husband and play games that foretell the future
of their marriages. Many people have a picnic dinner at night to enjoy the moon. Many people have a picnic dinner at night to enjoy the moon. The
festival is usually observed in September.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: The traditional holiday treat is moon cake filled with fruit, sweet bean paste, lotus seed, and chestnuts, with a yellow
yolk in the center to symbolize the moon. Moon cake can be found in most Asian grocery stores.


Religion/Culture: Judaism

The Festival of Sukkot, also known as Feast of the Tabernacles, begins on Tishri, the 15th day after Yom Kippur. The word Sukkot refers to temporary
dwelling places, or huts, and the holiday commemorates the 40 year period in which the children of Israel wandered the wilderness, living in temporary
huts for protection. In some practices, temporary huts are constructed – which must have ceilings made of organic material – and all eating, praying
and sleeping must take place here for the duration of the holiday. As a Jewish Biblical pilgrimage festival, Sukkot is one of three holidays during which
Jews historically traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem. Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Many observant Jews build a succoth, a three-sided wooden
hut with a ceiling, which is decorated with fall fruits and vegetables, as well as Jewish artifacts, such as the menorah. Meals are eaten in the succoth
and religious services are also held there. Giving someone something to decorate a succoth is an appropriate gift.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Religion/Culture: Disability Culture

In 1988, Congress designated each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The Office of Disability Employment
Policy has the lead in planning NDEAM activities and materials to increase the public's awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers
with disabilities. Various programs carried out throughout the month also highlight the specific employment barriers that still need to be addressed and

This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment actually began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law
declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to
acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.

LGBT History Month

Religion/Culture: LGBT

LGBT History Month is a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related
civil rights movements. It is observed during October in the United States, to include National Coming Out Day on October 11. LGBT History Month
originated in the United States and was first celebrated in 1994. It was founded by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson.

Spectrum, MSU's LGBT & Ally Alliance, along with the Multicultural Resource Center, provide a month-long series of events on campus to
commemorate LGBT History Month. These include dances, panels, film screenings, fundraisers, discussions, art displays, and an annual talent show.

Disability Awareness Month

Religion/Culture: National Observance

Congress designated each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The Office of Disability Employment Policy
has the lead in planning NDEAM activities and materials to increase the public's awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with
disabilities. Various programs carried out throughout the month also highlight the specific employment barriers that still need to be addressed and

This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment actually began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law
declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to
acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and
changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month." More information

Day of German Unity

Religion/Culture: Germany

On October 3, 1990 the German Parliament voted on making the former East Germany a part of the united Germany. It is always celebrated on the
same day in commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification.

People have a "buerger fest" which is celebrated in the streets of towns. Generally a government official presides. The official celebration is always in
the capital of the different states, with one being picked as the main event each year. Lots of dancing and drinking is involved.

Native American Day/Indigenous Peoples Day

Religion/Culture: Native American

Native Americans' Day is a public holiday in South Dakota and in Berkeley, California, instead of Columbus Day. Government offices are closed, as are
many businesses and schools. Services such as police and fire departments, as well as emergency health services, may be available on this day.

In 1989 the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed legislation to proclaim 1990 as the “Year of Reconciliation” for Native Americans and to
change Columbus Day to Native American Day. Since 1990 the second Monday in October has been celebrated as Native American Day in South

In 1992 Columbus Day was no longer observed in Berkeley, California, but Indigenous People's Day would be celebrated instead on the second
Monday in October. The city has been known for its political correctness and its officials designated 1992 as the Year of Indigenous People. However
the city has been criticized by some community groups that believe that Columbus Day should continue to be observed. More information

National Coming Out Day

Religion/Culture: LGBT

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as bisexual, gay,
lesbian and transgender coming out regarding one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity being akin to a cultural rite of passage for LGBT people.
The holiday is observed annually by members of the gay community on October 11.

Spectrum, MSU's LGBT & Ally Alliance, hosts a table in the PSU on National Coming Out Day encouraging students to be comfortable and open about
who they are, no matter what their sexual orientation is. Traditions include a bake sale and an armoire to "come out" of while getting your picture taken.

Navaratri/ Saraswati Puja /Dussehra

Religion/Culture: Hindu

Navaratri, or “nine nights,” is a festival honoring the divine mother, Shakti. These nine nights fall around harvest time, and each day is spent worshiping
one of Shakti’s many manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. In the first three days, Durga, the warrior goddess, is invoked to
destroy all impurities and vices. During the next three days, Lakshmi is worshiped as a giver of spiritual wealth and prosperity.The last three days
honor Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. Dussehra, which means "the tenth day," is celebrated at the culmination of the "nine nights" festival and is
celebrated with feasting and rejoicing. PBS Multifaith Calendar

Birth of the Bab

Religion/Culture: Baha'i

One of the eleven holy days on the Baha’i calendar, this day marks the Birth of Bab ud-Din (Mirza Ali Muhammad), who declared himself the Prophet
of God. Born in 1819 in Shiraz, Iran, his mission was to reform Islam, and his teachings became the foreground for the later developed Baha’i tradition.
Baha’is celebrate this day with gatherings to pray, eat together, and read about his life. Work is suspended on this day. PBS Multifaith Calendar

Shemini Alzeret / Simchat Torah

Religion/Culture: Judaism

Shemini Atzeret, meaning the “eighth day of assembly,” is celebrated after the seventh day of Sukkot, but is in fact a holiday separate from Sukkot.
It is often explained that Sukkot is like a seven day party, where the Creator is the host who has invited his visitors for a limited time. On the eighth
day, he has had such a pleasurable time that he asks for guests to stay an extra day. Shemini Atzeret marks the beginning of the rainy season. On
this day, no work is permitted and a prayer for rain, called tefilat geshem, is recited, so that it will be plentiful and bring healthy crops. Simchat Torah
commemorates the reading of the last part of the Torah and the beginning of the first part, to start the cycle of scriptural readings for the new year. PBS
Multifaith Calendar

Eid Al-Adha

Religion/Culture: Islam

Muslim Holidays begin at sunset of the first day posted.

Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice is the most important feast of the Muslim calendar. It concludes the Pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid al-Adha lasts for three
days and commemorates Ibraham's (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son. Muslims believe the son to be Ishmael rather than Isaac
as told in the Old Testament. Ishmael is considered the forefather of the Arabs. According to the Koran, Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son when a
voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead.

The feast re-enacts Ibrahim's obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family eats about a third of the meal and donates the rest to the poor. More


Religion/Culture: Hindu

This is one of the most important festivals of the year for Hindus. It lasts for five days and combines a number of festivals to celebrate different gods
and goddesses and events in their lives as described in Hindu tradition. The day before Diwali is spent cleaning the house, shopping, and decorating
with flowers. A design is painted in white in front of the door of the house to bring good luck. Lamps are lit for the entire five days beside roads and
streams, along edges of roofs, and on window sills to enable Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity, to find her way to every home.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Since Diwali is a "festival of lights," candles are an appropriate gift. In addition, sweets, dried fruits, cakes, or cookies
called diyas made in the shape of the oil lamps used to decorate the walkways of one's house might be given. Keep in mind that Hindus neither eat
meat nor drink alcoholic beverages. Appropriate greetings for all Hindu holidays include "God bless you with prosperity and happiness" or "I wish you
happiness and prosperity."

Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos)

Religion/Culture: Mexican Cultural Festival

Beginning on the evening of October 31 and celebrated through November 2 by Mexicans and Mexican Americans, this holiday has its roots in two
traditions: the Christian observance of All Saints and All Souls Day, and two Aztec festivals in which the souls of the dead were welcomed back to
visit those who remembered them. Central to the observance is the creation of an ofrenda, or altar, in the home, with flowers, foods, and favorite
possessions to honor the memory of deceased loved ones and to welcome their visiting souls. The holiday is celebrated with family and community
gatherings, music, and feasting, and the festivity of its observance acknowledges death as an integral part of life.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: In Mexico, candy sculls and skeletons are popular treats, along with pan de muerto, a sweet bread decorated with
bones and skulls and colored sprinkles. In southern Italy, children receive baskets filled with nuts, pomegranates, and martorana, colored marzipan
fruit, and are told it is a gift from their ancestors. Also popular throughout Italy are skull- or bone-shaped cookies made from ground almonds and eggs,
sometimes flavored with cocoa, called osso da mordere, or dead man's bones, and butter cookies flavored with rum or brandy called fave dei morti, or
dead man's beans, both of which are hidden as a present to the children from the departed ones. In Balkan countries, kolivo or zhito, a wheat porridge
with raisins and honey, is topped with silver dragees or almonds to make a cross and the initials of the dead.


Religion/Culture: Pagan/Wiccan

Samhain (pronounced 'sow'inn') is a very important date in the Pagan calendar for it marks the Feast of the Dead. Many Pagans also celebrate it as
the old Celtic New Year (although some mark this at Imbolc). It is also celebrated by non-Pagans who call this festival Halloween.

Samhain has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this
world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. Later,
when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows' Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of
remembering and honouring the dead. More information

Reformation Day

Religion/Culture: Protestant

Reformation Day commemorates Dr. Martin Luther's posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany
on October 31, 1517. This act triggered the movement in world history known as the Reformation. While the historical date for the observance of
Reformation is October 31st, most churches celebrate it on the last Sunday in October.

While it had profound and lasting impacts on the political, economic, social, literary, and artistic aspects of modern society, the Reformation was at
its heart a religious movement. The Reformation was the great rediscovery of the doctrine of justification, that is, the good news of the salvation of all
sinners by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. More information

Native American Heritage Month

Religion/Culture: National Observance

In response to an effort by many to gain a day of recognition for the great influence American Indians have had upon the U.S., Congress designated a
week of October to celebrate Native American Awareness Week in 1976. Yearly legislation was enacted to continue the tradition until August of 1990,
when President Bush approved the designation of November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Each year a similar proclamation is issued.
President Clinton noted in 1996, "Throughout our history, American Indian and Alaska Native peoples have been an integral part of the American
character. Against all odds, America’s first peoples have endured, and they remain a vital cultural, political, social, and moral presence." November is
an appropriate month for the celebration because it is traditionally a time when many American Indians hold fall harvest and world-renewal ceremonies,
powwows, dances, and various feasts. The holiday recognizes hundreds of different tribes and approximately 250 languages, and celebrates the
history, tradition, and values of American Indians. National American Indian Heritage Month serves as a reminder of the positive effect native peoples
have had on the cultural development and growth of the U.S., as well as the struggles and challenges they have faced. More information

Panamanian Independence Month

Religion/Culture: Panama

Panama prepares every November a festivity due to all Independence events around the formation of the new free Panama. Specific observances
include: Nov. 1st - National Anthem day; Nov. 2nd - day of the Death; Nov. 3rd - Independence day (Panama from Colombia-1903); Nov. 4th - Day
of the Flag Nov. Proclamation of Independence in Colon City; Nov. 9th - Proclamation of Independence in Santiago City; Nov. 10 - Proclamation of
Independence in La Villa De Los Santos City; Nov. 28 - Independence Day (Panama from Spain-1821)

Veterans Day

Religion/Culture: American Cultural Celebration

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in
America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for
the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace
and justice in the councils of the nations…" The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a
brief suspension of business... More information

Birth of Baha'u'lla

Religion/Culture: Baha'i

This day celebrates the birth of the Baha’i founder and teacher, Baha’u'llah. Born to an affluent family in Persia in 1817, Baha’u'llah spent many of his
later years as a prisoner and in exile for his work in the Babi movement. It was in his prison cell that he had his new religious revelation and the Baha’i
faith was born. On this day, one of nine holy days in the Baha’i religion, Baha’is do not work. Many observe the day in small celebrations or gatherings
where prayers are said from Baha’u'llah’s writings. Check with the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance for accommodation recommendations.

Al-Hijra (Muharram) New Year

Religion/Culture: Islam

This begins the first day of Muharram of the new year 1432 based on the Islamic lunar calendar. The Islamic lunar calendar dates from the Hijrah,
the emigration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in A.D. 622. Years in the Islamic lunar calendar are called Hijrah years and are
designated as anno Hegirae (Latin for “in the year of the Hijrah”), abbreviated “A.H.” Since Islamic holidays are based on the lunar calendar, a holiday
may occur twice in the same Gregorian year.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Any sweet dessert is an appropriate gift. Muslims do not drink alcoholic beverages.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Religion/Culture: LGBT

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a day to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the hatred or fear of
transgender and gender non-conforming people, and acts to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community. The
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to
memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.

Since its inception, TDoR has been held annually on November 20th, and has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an
international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries. Typically, a TDoR memorial includes
a reading of the names of those who lost their lives during the previous year and may include other actions, such as candlelight vigils, art shows, food
drives, film screenings, marches, among others. More information


Religion/Culture: American Cultural Celebration

Most stories of Thanksgiving history start with the harvest celebration of the pilgrims and the Native Americans that took place in the autumn of 1621.
Although they did have a three-day feast in celebration of a good harvest, and the local natives did participate, this "first thanksgiving" was not a
holiday, simply a gathering. There is little evidence that this feast of thanks led directly to our modern Thanksgiving Day holiday. Thanksgiving can,
however, be traced back to 1863 when Pres. Lincoln became the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving Day. The holiday has been a fixture of late
November ever since.

For a history of what took place leading up to that event, and then what happened in the centuries afterward that finally gave us our modern
Thanksgiving, click here.

National Native American Heritage Day

Religion/Culture: National Observance

American Indian Heritage Day, also known as Native American Heritage Day, annually recognizes the rich cultural heritage, history and vital
contributions of American Indians on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

Some individual states, such as Maryland, have taken legislative action to recognize this day as a state holiday.

Ashura (10th day of Muharram)

Religion/Culture: Islam

Ashura is an Islamic holy day observed on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram. Shi’ite Muslims regard it as a major holiday, marking the
martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson, Hussein, at the Battle of Karbala. Ashura is observed in various ways throughout the world. Processions are
often held, and reenactments of the Battle of Karbala are often staged. This is a solemn day for Shi’ite Muslims, who commemorate Hussein with
prayers and verse. PBS Multifaith Calendar

Bodhi Day (Rohatsu)

Religion/Culture: Buddhist

This day marks the time when Prince Siddhartha Gautama, a spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism, positioned himself under the Pipul tree and
vowed to remain there until he attained supreme enlightenment. Buddhist traditions vary as to what Siddhartha’s experience was while meditating
under the tree, but all agree that upon the rising of the morning star, he had experienced enlightenment and attained Nirvana: a state of being free
from suffering and broken from the cycle of rebirth. Among Mahãyãna Buddhists, this holiday celebrates Buddha's attaining understanding of the truth
of existence, freeing himself from all human suffering, and finding perfect happiness. The date is based on the Japanese Buddhist calendar. PBS
Multifaith Calendar

Human Rights Day

Human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. As a global community we all
share a day in common: Human Rights Day on 10 December, when we remember the creation 63 years ago of the Universal Declaration of Human

Recognizing the Holiday/Festival: On Human Rights Day 2011, we pay tribute to all human rights defenders.


Religion/Culture: Judaism

This holiday, often misunderstood as the “Jewish Christmas” since it occurs in December, commemorates the victory of the Jewish people, led by the
Maccabee family, over the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. This victory marked the end of a three-year period of religious persecution, restored Jewish
independence, and ensured the survival of monotheism (belief in one God). According to legend, when the Jews returned to cleanse their Temple,
which had been defiled by pagan worship, they discovered only enough consecrated oil to keep the holy lamp burning for one day. However, the oil
miraculously lasted eight days, the time needed to secure a new supply. Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a candle on each of the eight days of
celebration. On the first night, one candle is lit in a branched candlestick called a menorah, and an additional candle is lit each night until the eighth
night. This ceremony has given the holiday the additional name of “Festival of Lights.” Hanukkah is joyfully celebrated. Special Hebrew hymns,
including “Rock of Ages,” are sung, family members exchange gifts, and children play with a dreidel, a four-sided top inscribed with the Hebrew letters
for “a great miracle happened there.” Potato pancakes, or latkes, are a traditional food treat, with the oil used for cooking recalling the oil in the sacred

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: A four-sided top for spinning, called a dreidel, is popular for playing various Hanukkah games. Potato pancakes,
called latkes, are a very popular food that can be found in many supermarkets or delicatessens.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Religion/Culture: Disability Culture

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December was established by the International Year for Disabled
Persons (1981). The Day aims to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains
to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
The goal of full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development was established by the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982. More information

Recognizing the Holiday/Festival: A major focus of the Day is practical action to mainstream disability in all aspects of development, as well as
to further the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Highlight progress and obstacles in
implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness of barriers to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the lives of
their societies. More information

Winter Solstice (Yule)

Religion/Culture: Wiccan

Yule marks the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and celebrates the rebirth of the sun in the Norse pagan tradition. The modern day,
western Yule festival contains a large blend of celebrations, leading back to multiple cultures and religious practices. Christians often celebrate this as
the birth of light through Jesus. Practices include decorating a fir or spruce tree, burning a Yule log, hanging mistletoe and holly branches and giving
gifts. PBS Multifaith Calendar


Religion/Culture: Christian

Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown, but December 25th was made popular
by Pope Liberius of Rome in 354 A.D. Although this day is celebrated by Christians throughout the world, traditions and practices vary within different
cultures and communities. The day is often celebrated in prayer and song at church services, and gifts are often given to represent the gifts Jesus
received from the three kings. PBS Multifaith Calendar


Religion/Culture: Interfaith/African American

First celebrated on December 26, 1966, the festival of Kwanzaa was created in the United States by scholar and cultural activist Dr. Maulana Karenga.
Patterned after harvest festivals in Africa, Kwanzaa derives its name from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits.” Symbols of
Kwanzaa are set upon a low table laden with tropical fruits and vegetables. A seven-branched candelabrum called a kinara, reflecting the Nguzo Saba,
or the seven principles of Kwanzaa, is used for lighting one candle for each day of the holiday. Kwanzaa decorations traditionally use a color scheme of
red, black, and green: black to represent the faces of Black people and their collective beauty, red to represent the struggle and the blood of ancestors,
and green to signify youth and renewed life. The Kwanzaa observance includes storytelling about the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity),
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity),
and Imani (Faith). A Pan-African holiday, Kwanzaa is also celebrated in Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and in African communities in the United
Kingdom and other European countries.

Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Black, red, and green streamers, balloons, and flowers are used to decorate during Kwanzaa, along with African
sculptures and artwork. Families exchange handmade gifts that demonstrate kuumba (creativity). The Kwanzaa feast, or karamu, traditionally
celebrated on the evening of December 31, is a communal event often held in a church or community center. A joyful expression of African American
culture, the karamu features music, dancing, poetry recitation, talks by guest lecturers, and a feast with dishes such as peanut soup, okra gumbo,
black-eyed peas and rice, jambalaya, jerk chicken, barbequed ribs, and sweet potato pie. The Kwanzaa greeting is Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri! or
“Happy Kwanzaa".