Chinese New Year: Welcome the Year of the Goat

Oranges with green leaf tops on red black-print patterned paper with wooden reeds in back

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19: The Chinese Year of the Goat starts today with a 15-day celebration that circles the globe.

The color red, which is considered auspicious and homophonous with the Chinese word for “prosperous,” dominates décor in nearly every event. The Spring Festival, as it is also termed, ushers in warmer weather and marks the time of great gatherings among family and friends. When the New Year approaches, it is customarily ushered in with a Reunion Dinner that is replete with symbolic foods. For two weeks, visits are made and hosted with family and friends, gifts are exchanged and merriment is par for the course.


Legend has it that when the Buddha (or the Jade Emperor) invited animals to a New Year’s celebration, only 12 showed up; these 12 animals were each rewarded with a year. Tradition has it that a person’s birth year indicates that he or she will possess the characteristics of the animal in reign during that year. In 2015, the eighth animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac—the goat—will have supremacy. (Select watch brands have designed goat faces for this event, as Forbes reported.) The goat represents independence and an observant nature.


Vase with branches with red envelopes hanging all over branches

Red envelopes hang from branches at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, in California. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Unrivaled among Chinese holidays, the New Year begins weeks in advance with families cleaning and hanging paper cutouts in their homes, shopping for fish, meats and other specialty foods, and purchasing new clothing. Businesses pay off debts, gifts are distributed to business associates and everything is completed according to symbolism—for good luck, prosperity and health in the coming year. (Wikipedia has details.) In Buddhist and Taoist households, home altars and statues are cleaned.

On the eve of the New Year, a Reunion Dinner is shared with extended family members. Dumplings, meat dishes, fish and an assortment of hot and cold dishes are considered essential for the table. (News alert: This year, Filipino-Chinese and Chinese Catholics in Manila were granted an episcopal jurisdiction exemption for Ash Wednesday fasting, in light of the eve of Chinese New Year.) Traditionally, red envelopes filled with money or chocolate coins are given to children. Following dinner, some families visit a local temple.

For the next two weeks, feasts will be shared with family and friends, fireworks will fill the skies and parades with dragons and costumes will fill the streets. (View colorful photos from CNN.) Friends and relatives frequently bring a Tray of Togetherness to the households they visit, as a token of thanks to the host. Through the New Year festivities, elders are honored and deities are paid homage, with all festivities being wrapped up with the Lantern Festival.


If carryout isn’t your idea of an authentic Chinese experience, check out these sites for delicious New Year recipes:


A new approach to the red envelope tradition was unveiled last month, when the company Tencent announced the capability to send electronic red packets via smartphone. (CNBC has the story.) The service, which saw $2.9 million worth of transfers in its first 24 hours, allows users to send and receive digital envelopes of money.

In Australia, 90 warriors originally created for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are lighting up Sydney Harbour, as part of the city’s Chinese New Year Festival. The warriors, which are modeled after the terracotta warriors found in the tomb of China’s first Emperor in 1974, are lit in red, green, yellow and blue. (Read more from Australia’s program is the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside of Asia.

New Year’s Day: Shogatsu, the Solemnity of Mary and Feast of St. Basil

Platters in gold of lobster and other fancy Japanese delicacies

Traditional Japanese New Year’s foods. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

THURSDAY, JANUARY 1: The Gregorian year 2015 rings in at midnight, and around the world, parades, games and greetings fill the streets while traditional dishes fill tables in homes. Cultural customs vary from parades and football in the United States to ancestor tributes in Korea. Polar Bear Club plunges—jumping into icy-cold bodies of water—have been steadily gaining popularity in Canada, the United States, the UK, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland, and in many areas, family and friends will gather for a New Year’s Day brunch. (Find interactive information and history at

Bake up some: Blini! Nothing says “New Year” quite like blini—in Russian culture, that is. Ancient Slavs regarded the thin pancakes as symbols of the sun, given their round form, and blini have been reserved for festive occasions for centuries. The Russian form of blini can be stuffed with cheese, and that recipe—along with two others, plus a personal tale of family history—can be found at Wall Street

Grey stone bell with simple Eastern carvings

Buddhist bells are run 108 times on New Year’s Eve. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


The grand celebrations for Christmas in the West compare to elaborate preparations for New Year’s in the East, and Japan observes Shogatsu with grandeur. Families prepare weeks in advance, with most businesses closed on New Year’s Day. Traditional pressed rice cakes, mochi, are cooked ahead of time and then finally prepared in a variety of flavors. Some mochi are cooked with broth to create a New Year’s soup. (Read more from Food & Nutrition.)

At midnight on Dec. 31, Buddhist temples throughout Japan ring their bells 108 times, which is an auspicious number in Buddhist tradition. The Watch Night Bell is a renowned destination on New Year’s Eve. After midnight, families head to a local temple to pray, and then feast together on soba noodles. The following morning, New Year’s greetings are exchanged and delicacies like sashimi and sushi are consumed, while children are presented with small envelopes containing money. (Wikipedia has details.) Most New Year’s celebrations last several days.

Happy New Year!  Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!


The octave of Christmas culminates in the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on January 1. Feasts for the Mother of God were popular from the earliest centuries of the Church. (Learn more from Catholic Culture.) Millions of Christians, in Eastern and Western branches of the faith, turn to the Virgin Mary who is, by Greek description, the Theotokos “She Who Gave Birth to God.” (Note: in the Anglican and Lutheran denominations, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ is observed today.)


Saint Basil the Great takes the cake—literally—in Greece and in Orthodox Christian communities today. On New Year’s Eve, both adults and children walk through neighborhoods singing Kalanda—carols—and then gather for enormous bonfires. In hopes of luck in the New Year, tables are graced with plentiful dishes, and the St. Basil’s Cake is the centerpiece. The vasilopita, or St. Basil’s Cake, is cooked with a coin inside, and the recipient of the piece of cake with the coin is said to be lucky for the coming year. (Find a recipe here.)

St. Basil the Great was born in the 4th century CE in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to a family well known for its holiness. At his sister’s urging, Basil followed an ascetic life and visited monks in several regions. (Learn more from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.) The saint inspired and preached throughout his life until his death, on January 1, 379 CE.

MAY themes: Asian-Pacific, Jewish and Haitian Americans

MAY 2014: Americans will hear a lot this month about everything from Asian Americans and Jewish Americans to motorcycle safety and a host of other spring themes. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a month-long celebration of bicycles built around Bike-to-Work Day that began way back in the 1950s, the celebrity-supported Get Caught Reading Month and many foods are extensively promoted this month including asparagus and salsa.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian-Pacific American Heritage MonthIn 1978, the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan proposal for a special heritage week in early May, honoring Americans of Asian and Pacific heritage. The week recalls two important anniversaries: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America on April 11, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which involved thousands of Chinese laborers, on May 10, 1869. By 1992, Congress expanded the week into the entire month of May. Now, the Library of Congress hosts a special resource-packed website for the month. The Smithsonian also has a website, which includes this fascinating page for teachers. The Scholastic Inc. publishing house also has an educational page. The Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association also maintains a website, listing a range of events planned for May.

Jewish American Heritage Month logoJEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

In 2006, a bipartisan political team in Washington D.C., encouraged especially by Jewish leaders in Florida, succeeded in having President George W. Bush declare a first Jewish American Heritage Month. Since then, President Obama has issued annual declarations and the federal government encourages visits to historical sites that mark achievements of Jewish Americans. The best overall website for further information is sponsored by the nonprofit formed by the original supporters of this annual theme—and includes a growing online index of events related to this year’s observance. Now, the National Register of Historic Places publishes a special list of sites nationwide with special connections to our Jewish history in the U.S. The Library of Congress also maintains a helpful website dedicated to this special month. That website also has a special section to help teachers find educational resources online. One of the nonprofit groups encouraging tourism and educational programs, each May, is the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of Jewish American Archives.


Haitian-Americans have not achieved the national recognition of the other two ethnic celebrations in May, but a movement that started in Florida has grown nationwide. A Wikipedia overview of this special month reports that a number of states, mainly along the East Coast, now host at least some events marking Haitian Heritage Month. Among the themed websites supporting this effort are “Haitian Heritage Month” and the Haitian Heritage Museum in Florida.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

ShareTheRoad_LogoDuring Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, all road users are reminded to safely “share the road” with motorcyclists. The  and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. If you care about this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a website packed with free images, posters and fact sheets you can use to spread the message. The website summarizes the importance of this month: “Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why May is the perfect time for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Fatal crashes with motorcycles are on the rise, and helmet usage is on the decline. We all need to be more aware of motorcyclists in order to save lives. Statistics show an alarming trend: in 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a continued increase from 2010. Those deaths account for 15 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. Injured motorcyclists also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.”


You will enjoy our entire Interfaith Calendar of holidays and anniversaries. An easy way to reach that master index: Remember the URL

Qing Ming: Chinese on the move to honor ancestors

QING MING traffic jams are not a modern development! This detail comes from a much larger Chinese mural of a Qing Ming festival as men and women fill the streets and waterways.

QING MING traffic jams are not a modern development! This detail comes from a much larger, thousand-year-old Chinese mural of a Qing Ming festival as men and women fill the streets and waterways.

SATURDAY, APRIL 5: English spellings of the holiday vary, but newspapers in Asia are clear in reporting the most important news at this time of year: Watch out for traffic congestion and travel safely! Huge numbers of Chinese families are heading home to reconnect with their families and honor their ancestors at this time of year.

In the past, other English phrases have been used to describe this holiday: Wikipedia’s entry lists many names, including the Clear Bright Festival and Grave Sweeping or Grave Tending Day. The scale of annual ceremonies honoring ancestors has grown to elaborate heights in some eras—and shrunk in others—over many centuries. Chinese writers claim that the annual observance has continued in various forms for nearly 3,000 years!

Today, popular springtime customs associated with Qing Ming include kite flying, time spent with family, picnics and other outdoor gatherings near sites associated with ancestors. As spring flowers are blooming, many enjoy the sights and smells. Chinese news media already are featuring photos of families enjoying flowering trees in parks.

Hinamatsuri: Japan marks Girls’ Day, doll displays and Baskin Robbins treats

Young girl standing over table of elaborate Japanese dolls and accessories

A girl examines a doll display for Hinamatsuri. Photo by Timothy Takemoto, courtesy of Flickr

MONDAY, MARCH 3: Anticipate the aroma of cherry blossoms and indulge in the elaborate beauty of dolls as Japanese communities across the globe celebrate Hinamatsuri. Alternatively called the Japanese Doll Festival, or Girls’ Day, Hinamatsuri sprung up from the ancient Japanese custom of floating dolls down a river in a tiny boat, in belief that the dolls would take any bad spirits with them. During the Heian period (Heian meaning “peace,” or “tranquility,” in Japanese, and representing the last division of classical Japanese history) it became customary to display dolls, too.

Today, Hinamatsuri serves as an opportunity for young girls, families, shops and museums alike to set out their best display of Hina dolls. The dolls are traditionally arranged on seven platforms, and community members pray for the health and well being of young girls.

The dolls on a Hinamatsuri set of platforms may be simple or elaborate, but placing instructions are, customarily, very specific. The entire stand of dolls must represent the Emperor, Empress, attendants and musicians of the Heian period—all in traditional attire. (Wikipedia has details.) The first platform displays the Emperor and Empress, in front of a golden screen; the second platform holds three court ladies, each of which hold sake equipment. The third platform presents five male musicians; the fourth platform demonstrates two ministers, a mandarin orange tree and a cherry blossom tree. On the fifth platform, three helpers protect the Emperor and Empress; on the sixth and seventh platforms, a variety of doll furniture and tools is displayed.

Most doll displays are constructed in February, although superstition prevents them from being left up after March 3. Outside of Japan, Hinamatsuri is met with revel in Florence, Italy, in Hawai’i and in Japanese communities worldwide.

Chirashizushi (rice topped with raw fish), sugar- or soy-flavored crackers and sake made from fermented rice are all popular fare for the day.


Pink gelatinous balls covered with a cherry blossom leaf, edible

Sakuramochi treats for Hina Matsuri, traditionally made with cherry blossom leaves and pink rice cake. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

These days, Hina doll displays are so popular that they are making headlines far and wide: The Portland Japanese Garden, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo, Mitsui Memorial Museum and Meguro Gajoen in Tokyo are just a few of the places advertising their doll platforms and goings-on for Hinamatsuri.

Baskin Robbins is taking a cue from the holiday and has released five new ice cream dolls in a tiered box, each in a different flavor—representing, of course, the Emperor and Empress and their attendants. (Fox News reported.)

Starbucks has also taken a cultural prompt with this season’s springtime sakura beverage lineup, which reflects Hinamatsuri’s sakuramochi (a Japanese confectionery of pink rice cake, red bean paste and a cherry blossom leaf). Drinks boasts white chocolate, sakura flowers and leaves and strawberry infused whipped cream—but, unfortunately for international clients, this lineup is only offered in Japan.

Chinese New Year 2014: Zodiac horse rings in energy, intelligence, ability

Lighted horses line the streets at night for Chinese New Year celebrations

Horse lanterns ‘gallop’ toward prosperity and gold coins along Eu Tong Sen Street in Singapore, for Chinatown’s celebration of the Year of the Horse. Photo by Choo Yut Shing, courtesy of Flickr

FRIDAY, JANUARY 31: Gong Hei Fat Choi! (or: Happy Chinese New Year!)

This week, families around the world string red lanterns, partake in good-luck cuisine and hold massive festivals for the 2014 Chinese New Year. From Sydney to London, from Las Vegas to Toronto, millions gather for events that are now anything but restricted to the Asian continent. Traditionally, 15 days of events commence for Chinese New Year, with everything from a myriad of foods to fireworks, dances, red envelopes, wishes for “good fortune” and so much more. In 2014, the world ushers in the Year of the Horse.

Did you know? During the 40 days surrounding Chinese New Year, workers return home and families gather, creating a period, chunyun, that comprises the world’s largest annual migration.

Chinese New Year is steeped in ancient traditions and stories. It’s said that the event started with a fight against a mythical beast called the Nian. Legend has it that Nian would arrive on the first day of the New Year to eat livestock, crops and villagers, until one day, the beast was frightened by a young child who was wearing red clothing. (Wikipedia has details.) The villagers realized that Nian was afraid of red, so they strung red lanterns and scrolls across doors and windows, wore red clothing and set off fireworks, to scare the monster. To this day, Chinese New Year is known for red lanterns, red clothing and the distribution of red envelopes, in belief that red not only scares away bad fortune but also brings luck, joy and a bright future.

The extensive Chinese New Year’s Eve reunion dinner, often enjoyed with family, is known as Nian Ye Fan and inludes dishes like fish, dumplings, hot pot and cake. Following Nian Ye Fan, some families will visit a nearby temple.

Did you know? The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, meaning that it is dependent up on both the moon phase and the time of the solar year.


Overhead view of Chinese New Year market selling red decorations, food and goods

Markets selling New Year goods are common in regions with large Chinese populations. Photo by Choo Yut Shing, courtesy of Flickr

Customs associated with Chinese New Year begin long before its commencement, with families thoroughly cleaning their homes to make way for good luck. On the eighth day prior to New Year, a traditional porridge is made in remembrance of the ancient La festival (the lunar month of La has been compared to the Christian Advent, during which participants consume little or no meat). People get a fresh haircut, businesses pay debts and small gifts are distributed to business associates and family, so that the New Year may begin clean, fresh and in the best of luck. (Find videos, interactive activities and more at

Each day has its own specific customs: on the first day, deities are welcomed, elders are honored, red envelopes are distributed and a lion dance is often performed or watched; on the seventh day, everyone grows one year older; on the ninth day, prayers are offered to the Jade Emperor of Heaven. The fifteenth day closes the festivities, with a Lantern Festival, rice dumplings and candlelit windows.

Traditionally, both deities and ancestors are honored throughout Chinese New Year. (Check out 20 Chinese New Year facts at Huffington Post.)

In Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism: Buddhist and Taoist households often clean home altars and statues prior to the start of New Year; old altar decorations are taken down and burned, so that fresh décor can be put up. Taoists burn a paper effigy of Zao Jun the Kitchen God, so that he will report good things about the family to the Jade Emperor—and some bribe the deities with candies! Before the New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner, Confucian families offer prayers of thanksgiving and recall their ancestors.

Recipes, origami and more: Steamed Chinese five-spice chicken buns and Beef with chilli plum sauce can be on your menu, with recipes for New Year at the Herald Sun. Sites like Food Network and Epicurious also offer full Chinese menus. Kids can find activities, origami instructions and 82 ways to celebrate Chinese New Year with help from


As surveys and polls reveal rapidly increasing numbers of wealthy Chinese tourists traveling to the U.S. for New Year celebrations, major cities are competing for profits. In efforts to avoid the overwhelming crowds at Chinese attractions, many of the newly wealthy are opting for an alternative—and spending plenty along the way, with more than $8.8 billion spent in the U.S. during Chinese New Year in 2012. (Fox News reported.) To accommodate their well-to-do Chinese clients, shops are staffing their stores with Mandarin-speaking associates; restaurants are offering traditional New Year dishes; and elite hotels, such as the Waldorf Astoria, are training their employees in Chinese cultural preferences.

Interfaith Calendar: Religious and Cultural Observances 2022

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


A Global Source for More than a Decade

Holidays & Festivals expert Stephanie Fenton is internationally known for her reporting on major holidays, festivals and milestones that shape community life around the world. There are many other calendars that claim to provide this information at the click of a link or an app, but Stephanie is the leading journalist focused on actively reporting about these milestones. That’s important, because dates and times and even the names of these observances vary—as well as the meaning of these observances in various countries and cultures. In her columns, Stephanie explains the fascinating stories behind these events, advises readers on newsy updates—and always provides an array of links to learn more about everything from the history of the holiday to DIY holiday-related crafts and tasty traditional recipes.

It’s simple to find these columns. Just go to the master year-long calendar via

Got a question? Perhaps you’re questioning one of the listed dates—or you wish we would list an observance that particularly interests you. Please, contact us at [email protected]

Holidays and Festivals January 2022

Black-and-white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in suit with microphones, speaking outdoorsJANUARY is named for Janus, the Roman god associated with beginnings and transitions. The many month-long observances in various parts of the world include a special focus on Alzheimer’s disease (Canada) and on combatting human trafficking and slavery (U.S.). Over the past two decades in the U.S., January also has been designated National Mentoring Month.

1—Mary, Mother of God (Catholic Christian)

1—Feast of St. Basil (Orthodox Christian)

5—Twelfth Night (Christian)

6—Epiphany (Christian) (Note: Observed in some denominations on the nearest Sunday, January 2, in 2022.)

6—Theophany (Feast of the Epiphany) (Orthodox Christian)

6—Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day) (Christian)

7—Feast of the Nativity (Orthodox Christian, Julian calendar)

9—Baptism of the Lord (Christian)

9—Birthday of Guru Gobindh Singh (Sikh)

10—Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) (Buddhism)

13—Maghi Lohri (Sikh)

14—Makar Sankranti / Pongal (Hindu)

16—World Religion Day (Baha’i)

16—Sundown, Tu BiShvat (Jewish)

17—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (U.S.)

18—Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins (Christian)

19—Timkat (Ethiopian Orthodox Christian)

21—Chinese New Year

25—Conversion of St. Paul (Christian)

27—International Holocaust Remembrance Day

30—New Year (Buddhist, Mahayana)


Holidays and Festivals February 2022

Black-and-white stamp of Four Immortal Chaplains

This U.S. postage stamp was issued in honor of the Four Immortal Chaplains in 1948.

FEBRUARY is another echo of ancient Rome, where februum meant “purification.” Among February’s month-long observances are Library Lovers Month and Black History Month in Canada and the U.S. (October in the UK).

1—Feast of St. Brighid of Kildare (Celtic Christian)

2—Candlemas (Presentation of Christ in the Temple) (Christian)

2—Imbolc (Lughnassadh) (Northern/Southern hemisphere) (Wicca, pagan)

2—Groundhog Day

3—Four Chaplains Day (Interfaith) Sunday observances may be on February 6, 2022.

5—Vasant Panchami (Hindu)

11—Our Lady of Lourdes (Catholic Christian)

13—Triodion begins (Orthodox Christian)

14—St. Valentine’s Day (Christian, international holiday)

15—Parinirvana Day (Nirvana Day) (Buddhist, Jain)

16—Magha Puja Day / Sangha Day (Buddhist)

21—Presidents’ Day (U.S.)

25—Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days) begins (Baha’i)

27—Meatfare Sunday (Judgment Sunday) (Orthodox Christian)

28—Sundown, Lailat al Miraj (Isra Mi’raj) (Islam)


Holidays and Festivals March 2022

St. Patrick stained glass

A stained-glass representation of St. Patrick.

MARCH‘s name recalls Mars, yet another Roman deity. This year, the moveable season of Lent begins in March for the majority of Christians around the world. Among March’s month-long observances are National Social Work Month and Women’s History Month, which includes International Women’s Day.

1—St. David of Wales (Christian)

1—Maha Shivaratri (Hindu)

1—Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) (Christian)

2—Ash Wednesday / Lent begins (Christian)

2—Nineteen-Day Fast begins (Baha’i)

6—Cheesefare Sunday (Forgiveness Sunday) (Orthodox Christian)

7—Clean Monday / Great Lent begins (Orthodox Christian)

13—Birthday of L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology)

13—Feast of Orthodoxy / Sunday of Orthodoxy / Orthodox Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

13—Daylight Saving Time begins

16—Fast of Esther (Jewish)

16—Sundown, Purim (Jewish)

17—St. Patrick’s Day (Christian, international holiday)

17—Holika Dahan (Hindu)

18—Hola Mohalla (Sikh)

18—Holi (Hindu)

18—Sundown, Lailat al Bara’ah (Mid-Sha’ban) (Islam)

19—St. Joseph’s Day (Christian)

20—Vernal (spring) equinox (Northern Hemisphere)

20—Ostara (Mabon) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

21—Naw-Ruz (Baha’i)

21—International Day of Nowruz, Nowruz (Zoroastrian)

25—Feast of the Annunciation (Christian)

27—Mothering Sunday (UK)


Holidays and Festivals April 2022

Ramadan begins in April in 2022.

APRIL‘s origin is debated by scholars but its name may reflect aperire, which means “to open.” Among April’s month-long observances are Arab American Heritage Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

2—Ugadi / Gudi Padwa (Hindu)

2—Sundown, Ramadan begins (Islam)

10—Rama Navami (Hindu)

(Note: Some Hindus begin reading the Ramayana nine days prior to the start of Rama Navami)

10—Palm Sunday (Christian)

10—Swaminarayan Jayanti (Hindu)

14—Baisakhi (Vaisakhi) (Sikh)

14—Maundy Thursday (Christian)

14—Mahavir Jayanti (Jain)

15—Lord’s Evening Meal (Jehovah’s Witness Christian)

15—Good Friday (Christian)

15—Fast of the Firstborn (Jewish)

Passover and Easter both occur in April 2022.

15—Sundown, Pesach (Passover) begins (Jewish)

16—Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu)

16—New Year (Buddhist, Theravada)

16—Black (Holy) Saturday (Christian)

16—Lazarus Saturday (Orthodox Christian)

17—Easter Sunday (Christian)

17—Palm Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

18—Easter Monday (Christian)

21—First Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

22—Earth Day

22—Holy Friday (Orthodox Christian)

23—Holy Saturday (Orthodox Christian)

24—Great and Holy Pascha (Easter) (Orthodox Christian)

27—Sundown, Yom HaShoah (Jewish)

28—Sundown, Lailat al-Qadr (27th night of Ramadan) (Islam)

29—Ninth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)


Holidays and Festivals May 2022

Words for Mother's Day on yellow with flowersMAY‘s name also comes from an ancient deity, in this case associated with fertility. Among May’s month-long observances are special devotions to Mary in Catholic communities, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month and Military Appreciation Month.

1—Beltane (Samhain) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

1 or 2—Sundown, Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan ends) (Islam)

2—Twelfth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

3—Akshaya Tritiya (Hindu, Jain)

3—Sundown, Yom HaZikaron (Jewish)

4—Sundown, Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Jewish)

5—Cinco de Mayo

5—National Day of Prayer (U.S.)

6—Vesak (Buddha Day) (Buddhist) (Note: Observance dates vary)

8—Mother’s Day (U.S.)

12—Trinity Sunday (Christian)

18—Sundown, Lag B’Omer (Jewish)

24—Declaration of the Bab (Baha’i)

26—Ascension of the Lord (Ascension of Jesus) (Christian)

(Note: Observed in some denominations on nearest Sunday, May 29, in 2022)

29—Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

30—Memorial Day (U.S.)


Holidays and Festivals June 2022

JUNE brings a wideDad tie words range of festivals and summer-themed observances in communities around the Northern Hemisphere. In the U.S., Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 and the birth of the gay-rights movement.

2—Holy Ascension / Feast of the Ascension (Orthodox Christian)

3—Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib (Sikh)

4—Sundown, Shavuot (Jewish)

5—Pentecost (Christian)

6—Whit Monday (Christian)

9—St. Columba of Iona (Christian)

12—Trinity Sunday (Christian)

12—Pentecost (Orthodox Christian)

14—Flag Day (U.S.)

16—Corpus Christi (Catholic Christian)

(Note: Observed in some denominations on nearest Sunday, June 19, in 2022)

19—New Church Day (Swedenborgian Christian)


19—Father’s Day (U.S.)

19—The Sunday of All Saints (Orthodox Christian)

21—Summer solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

21—Litha (Yule) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere); Midsummer

23/24—St. John the Baptist (Christian)

(Note: In the Roman Catholic church, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is transferred from June 24 to June 23 in 2022, as June 24 is observed as the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.)

24—Sacred Heart of Jesus (Catholic Christian)

29—Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (Christian)



Holidays and Festivals July 2022

JULY‘s name honors Julius Caesar, who was born in this month. More summer-time festivals are sprinkled around the Northern Hemisphere, including National Hog Dog Month and National Ice Cream Month in the U.S. That’s appropriate since this is the month of American Independence Day.

4—Independence Day (U.S.)

7—Sundown, Hajj begins (Islam)

8—Sundown, Waqf al Arafa (Day of Arafat) (Islam)

9—Sundown, Eid al-Adha (Islam)

10—Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i)

13—Asalha Puja Day (Dharma Day) (Buddhist)

15—Obon (Ullambana) (Buddhist) Note: This observance is Shichigatsu Bon; Hachigatsu Bon / Kyu Bon, or “Old Bon,” commences in August.

16—Fast of Tammuz 17; The Three Weeks begins (Jewish)

23—Birthday of Haile Selassie (Rastafari)

24—Pioneer Day (Mormon)

29—Sundown, Hijri (New Year) (Islam)


Holidays and Festivals August 2022

Grains, breads and rolls on table

Lughnasadh and Lammas have long been a first harvest festival, giving thanks for grains and baking with the freshly-sown crops. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

AUGUST was named after another Roman emperor, Augustus. Among the month-long observances are Happiness Happens (no kidding!) and National Immunization Awareness Month, which is promoted by the CDC in the U.S.

1—Lammas (Christian)

1—Lughnasadh (Imbolc) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

6—Feast of the Transfiguration, Transfiguration of Our Lord (Catholic Christian, Anglican Christian, Orthodox Christian)

6—Sundown, Tisha B’Av (Jewish)

7—Sundown, Ashura (Islam)

11—Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)

11—Sundown, Tu B’Av (Jewish)

13—Obon (Ullambana) (Buddhist) (See note in July Obon entry)

14—Dormition Fast (Orthodox Christian)

15—Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Catholic Christian, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican Communion)

15—Dormition of the Theotokos (Orthodox Christian)

18—Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)

24—Paryushan Parvarambha begins (Jain)

31—Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu)


Holidays and Festivals September 2022

Honey and biscuits

Honey is eaten with various foods on Rosh Hashanah. Photo courtesy of Pixnio

SEPTEMBER‘s name is a remnant of the fact that Romans once had 10 months and this was the seventh, hence “sept.” A whole series of cancer-awareness observances have been clustered in September, including special efforts to highlight childhood cancers, gynecologic cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, ovarian cancer and thyroid cancer.

1—Ecclesiastical New Year (Orthodox Christian)

1—Samvatsari Parva begins (Jain)

5—Labor Day (U.S.)

8—Nativity of the Virgin Mary/Theotokos (Christian)

11—Patriot Day (U.S.)

11—Enkutatasch (Ethiopian New Year) (Rastafari, Ethiopian Orthodox)

21—Mabon (Imbolc) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

22—Autumnal (fall) equinox (Northern Hemisphere)

25—Sundown, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)

26—Navaratri (Hindu)

27—Meskel (Ethiopian Eritrean Orthodox Christian)

29—Michael and All Angels (Christian)


Holidays and Festivals October 2022

Girl poses with candle-lit bowls of oil

A girl with diya lamps lit for Diwali. Photo by Partha Sarathi Sahana, courtesy of Flickr

OCTOBER retains its old reference to this being the eighth month in the old Roman system, thus “oct.” One of the biggest cancer-awareness campaigns—Breast Cancer Awareness Month—takes place each October. This also is National Bullying Prevention Month.

4—St. Francis Day (Blessing of the Animals) (Catholic Christian)

4—Sundown, Yom Kippur (Jewish)

5—Daesara, Dussehra (Hindu)

7—Sundown, Mawlid an-Nabi (Islam)

9—Sundown, Sukkot (Jewish)

10—Indigenous Peoples Day

10—Columbus Day (U.S.)

10—Thanksgiving (Canada)

16—Sundown, Shemini Atzeret (Jewish)

17—Sundown, Simchat Torah (Jewish)

18—St. Luke, Apostle and Evangelist (Christian)

24—Diwali (Deepavali) (Hindu, Jain, Sikh)

26—Birth of the Bab (Baha’i)

27—Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

31—Reformation Day (Protestant Christian)

31—All Hallows Eve (Christian)

31—Samhain (Wicca, pagan)


Holidays and Festivals November 2022

Assortment of fake pumpkins and autumn vegetables, with straw turkeyNOVEMBER was named for novem or “ninth,” continuing the ancient Roman custom of numbering months. This is Native American History Month, We’ve got books: Dancing My Dream as well as The Flavors of Faith, among others. November also is National Family Caregivers Month and National Hospice Month.

1—All Saints (Christian)

2—All Souls’ Day (Catholic Christian)

6—Daylight Saving Time ends

11—Veterans Day (U.S.)

15—Nativity Fast begins (Orthodox Christian)

20—Christ the King (Christian)

24—Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib (Sikh)

26—Day of the Covenant (Baha’i)

24—Thanksgiving (U.S.)

27—First Sunday of Advent (Advent begins) (Christian)

28—Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha (Baha’i)

30—St. Andrew’s Day (Christian)


Holidays and Festivals December 2022

Man with red bishop's hat and white beard waves with white gloved hand

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands.

DECEMBER, with dec for “ten,” wraps up the old Roman system of numbering months.

6—St. Nicholas Day (Christian)

7—Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (U.S.)

8—Immaculate Conception of Mary (Catholic Christian)

12—Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hispanic Catholic Christian) Note: In the Roman Catholic church, this feast is omitted in 2022 due to its occurrence on the third Sunday of Advent. However, Our Lady of Guadalupe is permitted to be honored in the Homily, in prayers and hymns, and in a Mass before or after Dec. 12.

16—Posadas Navidenas begins (Hispanic Christian)

18—Sundown, Hanukkah (Chanukah) begins (Jewish)

21—Yule (Christian, Wicca, pagan)

21—Winter solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

25—Christmas (Christian)

25—Feast of the Nativity (Orthodox Christian)

26—Kwanzaa begins

26—Feast of St. Stephen (Christian)

28—Holy Innocents (Christian)

30—Feast of the Holy Family (Catholic Christian)

31—Watch Night (Christian)




We continue to update this list, month by month. As you read the list, you may discover we have missed a fascinating observance or detail. If so, please email us at [email protected].