Birthday of Haile Selassie: Rastafari celebrate the final Ethiopian emperor

Dark-skinned man in Rasta hat and sunglasses, making peace sign with fingers

A Rastafari man. Photo courtesy of Pxhere

TUESDAY, JULY 23: Rastafari around the world—estimated to number 700,000 to 1 million—hold Nyabingi drumming sessions and celebrate the birthday anniversary of their God incarnate, Haile Selassie I. (Note: The belief that Selassie is God incarnate is not universally held; some Rastas regard Selassie as a messenger of God.) Born Ras Tafari Makonnen, Haile Selassie served as Ethiopia’s regent from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974.

TAFARI MAKONNEN: FROM MUD HUT TO PALACE

Beginnings were meager for this emperor-to-be, born in a mud hut in Ethiopia in 1892. Selassie—originally named Tafari Makonnen—was a governor’s son, assuming the throne of Ethiopia in a complex struggle for succession. The nation’s leaders favored Tafari for the role of emperor—and, in 1930, he was crowned. Selassie would become Ethiopia’s last emperor.

Years prior to Haile Selassie’s enthronement, American black-nationalist leader Marcus Garvey began preaching of a coming messiah who would lead the peoples of Africa, and the African diaspora, into freedom. When news of Selassie’s coronation reached Jamaica, it became evident to some that Selassie was this foretold of messiah. Beyond the prophesies in the book of Revelation and New Testament that Rastafari point to as proof of Selassie’s status, the emperor also could trace his lineage back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Rastafari pointed to Selassie as the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David and the King of Kings.

Did you know? The Rastafari receive their name from the combination of Ras—an honorific title, meaning “head”—and Tafari, part of Selassie’s birth name.

Selassie remained a lifelong Christian, but never reproached the Rastafari for their beliefs in him as the returned messiah. To this day, Rastafari rejoice on July 23, the anniversary of his birth.

TIME MAGAZINE AND THE WORLD: SELASSIE’S STORY

Magazine cover, man on front in fancy clothing of nobility

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

LEAGUE OF NATIONS—One of the most poignant chapters in Selassie’s life—and a key reason that he came to global attention—was an impassioned appeal for help that Selassie delivered to the League of Nations in 1936. In 1936, TIME magazine named him its Man of the Year.

The magazine’s “honor,” today, looks like nothing but ridicule for what TIME editors regarded as a foolish figure on the global stage. Dripping with sarcasm and openly racist, the TIME profile of Selassie included this description of him:

The astounding marvel is that Africa’s unique Museum of Peoples has produced a businessman—with high-pressure publicity, compelling sales talk, the morals of a patent medicine advertisement, a grasp of both savage and diplomatic mentality, and finally with plenty of what Hollywood calls “it.”

Selassie was in a life-and-death struggle with Italian aggression in his homeland. The TIME cover story appeared in January 1936. International opinions of Selassie changed dramatically that summer, when he made a passionate plea for help in a personal appearance before the League of Nations in Europe. His plea did not result in the help he sought, but the appeal now is considered a milestone in 20th century history. William Safire included the League address in his book, Great Speeches in American History.

NEWS: RASTAFARI PLEA FOR RELIGIOUS RECOGNITION FOR CANNABIS USE

Rastafari in the Bahamas are requesting state recognition and inclusion involving their use of cannabis in a sacramental manner in their communities, as was reported by Tribune 242. Sources report that Rasta priests in the Bahamas hold the opinion that, as occurred in Jamaica and Antigua, the government should issue a formal apology for the longstanding oppression placed upon Rastafari communities for their sacramental use of cannabis. Rather than risk arrest or job security for what Rastas regard as “a way of life” and their “sacrament,” those in the Bahamas are voicing requests for further national discussions on marijuana law.

Birthday of Haile Selassie: Rastafari celebrate his courage on global stage

1936 Haile Selassie as TIME magazine's Man of the YearSATURDAY, JULY 23: Rastafari far and wide hold Nyabingi drumming sessions and revel in the birthday anniversary of their God incarnate, Haile Selassie.

ORIGINS—Beginnings were meager for this emperor-to-be, born in a mud hut in Ethiopia, in 1892. Selassie—originally named Tafari Makonnen—was a governor’s son, assuming the throne of Ethiopia in a complex struggle for succession. The nation’s leaders favored Tafari for the role of emperor—and, in 1930, he was crowned. Selassie would become Ethiopia’s last emperor, and today, he is viewed as the messiah of the Rastafari. (Biography.com has more on Selassie’s life.)

Years prior to Haile Selassie’s enthronement, American black-nationalist leader Marcus Garvey began preaching of a coming messiah who would lead the peoples of Africa, and the African diaspora, into freedom. When news of Selassie’s coronation reached Jamaica, it became evident to some that Selassie was this foretold of messiah. (Wikipedia has details.) Beyond the prophesies in the Book of Revelation and New Testament that Rastafari point to as proof of Selassie’s status, the emperor also could trace his lineage back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Rastafari pointed to Selassie as the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David and the King of Kings.

Selassie remained a lifelong Christian, but never reproached the Rastafari for their beliefs in him as the returned messiah. To this day, Rastafari rejoice on July 23, the anniversary of his birth.

Did you know? The Rastafari receive their name from the combination of Ras—an honorific title, meaning “head”—and Tafari, part of Selassie’s birth name.

SELASSIE’S BITTERSWEET STORY

LEAGUE OF NATIONS—One of the most poignant chapters in Selassie’s life—and a key reason that he came to global attention—was an impassioned appeal for help that Selassie delivered to the League of Nations in 1936. It’s also the 80th anniversary of TIME magazine naming him its Man of the Year.

The magazine’s “honor,” today, looks like nothing but ridicule for what TIME editors regarded as a foolish figure on the global stage. Dripping with sarcasm and openly racist, the TIME profile of Selassie included this description of him:

The astounding marvel is that Africa’s unique Museum of Peoples has produced a businessman—with high-pressure publicity, compelling sales talk, the morals of a patent medicine advertisement, a grasp of both savage and diplomatic mentality, and finally with plenty of what Hollywood calls “it.”

Selassie was in a life-and-death struggle with Italian aggression in his homeland. The TIME cover story appeared in January 1936. International opinions of Selassie changed dramatically that summer when he made a passionate plea for help in a personal appearance before the League of Nations in Europe. His plea did not result in the help he sought, but the appeal now is considered a milestone in 20th century history. William Safire included the League address in his book, Great Speeches in American History.

After January, when TIME made fun of Selassie in its openly racist cover story, the world witnessed Italian armed forces brutally crushing Selassie’s Ethiopian army and conquering his country, declaring the nation to be the property of Italy. Selassie did not want to flee the country but did so for his own safety at the urging of Ethiopian leaders. He arrived in Geneva and delivered the plea to the League, excerpts of which were carried in newsreels around the world.

At one point, he declared:

I pray to Almighty God that He may spare nations the terrible sufferings that have just been inflicted on my people, and of which the chiefs who accompany me here have been the horrified witnesses.

The tragic aftermath of this speech was that the League did not help him, Fascists continued to take power in Europe and soon all of Europe was experiencing the “terrible sufferings” Selassie described.

GROUNDATION DAY—Each spring, Rastafari celebrate Groundation Day, marking Selassie’s triumphant visit to Jamaica in 1966—50 years ago this year. Some remarkable LIFE magazine photographs from that event are on display in the TIME website. They’re worth a look, partly because these photos by Lynn Pelham never ran in the American edition of LIFE. Now, we are able to look back at what the magazine describes this way:

The images capture something of the fervor and delight, as well as the barely restrained chaos, among thousands of believers upon seeing the man they considered a messiah—and whom countless others still view as a power-hungry fraud. Informal observations made by LIFE staffers who were there provide some fascinating insights into how the proceedings were viewed—hint: negatively—by at least some in the national press.

In notes that accompanied Pelham’s rolls of Ektachrome film to LIFE’s offices in New York just days after Selassie’s visit, for example, an editor for the magazine wrote privately to his colleagues that “the Rastafarians went wild on Selassie’s arrival. They broke police lines and swarmed around the emperor’s DC-6 [plane]. They kept touching his plane, yelling ‘God is here,’ and knocking down photographer Pelham, who got smacked. The Rastafarians fouled up the visit, as far as most Jamaicans were concerned. But Selassie seemed to love the attention these strange, wild-eyed, lawless and feared Jamaicans gave him.”

Interested in more? View a modern Rastafari celebration for Haile Selassie’s birthday here.

Anniversary: Rastafari, Civil Rights marks birthday of Marcus Garvey

“[Garvey] was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale … to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., June 1965

Painting of dark-skinned man with colorful background and quote

Marcus Garvey Square in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Mark Gstohl, courtesy of Flickr

MONDAY, AUGUST 17: A Black Nationalist who inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., united Malcom X’s parents and now has schools, colleges, highways and buildings honoring him across Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and United States is honored today, on the anniversary of his birth: the birthday of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.

Throughout his life, Marcus Garvey led the Black Nationalist movement by creating the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), founding the Negro World newspaper as a major vehicle for communication and launching the Black Star Line, an international shipping company. Through the 1920s, Garvey’s public speeches contained mention of a “black king” who would soon be crowned in Africa and offer deliverance; the Rastafari believe Garvey to be prophetic, foretelling the crowing of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. For the Rastafari, Garvey is still seen as a religious prophet, similar to St. John the Baptist.

UNIA AND PAN-AFRICAN MOVEMENT

Born in Jamaica in 1887, Marcus Garvey learned to read in his father’s library and sought to unite Africans of the diaspora. The UNIA, formed in 1914, was the “broadest mass movement in African-American history,” created with a mission to provide economic and educational opportunities and inspiration for Africans of the diaspora. (Learn more from History.com and Biography.com.) The UNIA developed the Pan-African flag (colored red, black and green) to represent a race and movement. Though ultimately unsuccessful, Garvey worked hard to develop a colony for free blacks in Africa. (Wikipedia has details.) At its peak, the UNIA claimed millions of members.

GARVEY’S INFLUENCE: RASTAFARI & MORE

During his lifetime, Marcus Garvey also faced criticism from many quarters, including from many African-Americans. One of his critics was W.E.B Du Bois. Nonetheless, Garvey’s efforts fueled what eventually became the Civil Rights movement and the concept of a secular organization for blacks. Earl and Louise Little, parents of Malcolm X, met at a UNIA convention in Montreal; the Rastafari continue to view Garvey as a prophet. Garvey died in London in June of 1940.

Haile Selassie: Celebrating Bob Marley’s 70th on a Rastafari birthday

Colored headshot of Bob Marley laughing

Bob Marley brought international attention to the Rastafari movement. Photo by Jason H. Smith, courtesy of Flickr

THURSDAY, JULY 23: During what would have been the year of Bob Marley’s 70th birthday, the world celebrates the legend of a Reggae artist—and, for the Rastafari, the man who helped place their religion on the international stage. Today, the Rastafari acclaim the birthday of their messiah, Emperor Haile Selassie—a man referenced in lyrics of Marley’s songs. In Rastafari communities worldwide, Selassie’s birthday is met with Nyabingi drumming sessions, chanting and dancing. Born in a mud hut in Ethiopia in 1892, Selassie—named Tafari Makonnen at birth—was the son of a governor who would become the final emperor of Ethiopia.

Did you know? The Rastafari receive their name from the combination of Ras—an honorific title, meaning “head”—and Tafari, part of Selassie’s birth name.

Looking for more Marley and other artists’ peacemaking music? Check out modern-day interfaith peacemaker Dan Buttry’s column—complete with links to videos.

Rastafari point to several sources as proof of Selassie’s destiny: astrological occurrences at the time of Selassie’s birth, a lineage traceable to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the prophesies of Marcus Garvey and biblical passages relating to Ethiopia and Zion. The constellation of Leo, which represents the house of Judah, was in full effect during the birth of Selassie on July 23, 1892. Marcus Garvey had been preaching of a messiah who would lead the African people to freedom. Biblical text relays that “he will be called … conquering lion of the tribe of Judah.” (For a Rasta view, click here.) When news of Selassie’s assumption of the Ethiopian throne reached Jamaica in 1930, the Rastafari movement was born.

Are Rastas Christian? Many Rastas believe in Jesus and embrace the Bible. What sets Rastas apart from other Christians is their belief that Haile Selassie was (is) a messiah. During his lifetime, Haile Selassie remained an Ethiopian Christian.

NEWS: OBAMA VISITS MARLEY MUSEUM, FAMILY CONTINUES LEGEND

President Barack Obama visited The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, last April, and the museum has been receiving international media attention throughout the year of Marley’s 70th birth anniversary. Beyond Reggae, Marley wrote songs about war, revolution, protest, human rights and justice. Marley’s greatest hits collection, Legend, has been certified platinum 15 times, and the BBC named “One Love” the Song of the Millennium. This year, Billboard reviewed both the continued marketing of Marley’s image (he ranked No. 5 on Forbes’ 2014 Top Earning Dead Celebrity list) and the 10 protest songs that best exemplify his fight for social justice.

Interested in more? View a modern Rastafari celebration for Haile Selassie’s birthday here, and Time’s photos of Selassie’s 1966 visit to Jamaica here. Rita Marley, Bob Marley’s wife, converted to the Rasta faith after seeing Haile Selassie on his trip to Jamaica, claiming to have seen a stigmata print on his palm as he waved to the crowd. Rita influenced Bob in his conversion to Rastafari.

Ethiopians and Rastafari mark Enkutatash, New Year, 40th anniversary

Dark-skinned boy holding out orange flower  with yellow flowers in background

An Ethiopian New Year card. Photo courtesy of the International Livestock Research Institute and Flickr

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: Harvest and autumn themes take center stage in many September holidays and celebrations, but in Ethiopia, the opposite is true: Today is Enkutatash, the first day of the Ethiopian New Year and the end of the rainy season. Flowers are bursting into bloom in the fields, and young children gather bouquets to bring to friends. Enkutatash typically begins in church and leads to traditional shared meals, the exchange of New Year’s songs and greetings. (Wikipedia has details.) Many Ethiopians recall, today, the return of the Queen of Sheba from her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem.

Did you know? The Ethiopian calendar is based on the Coptic calendar, which was fixed to the Julian calendar in 25 BCE. The New Year date is August 29 on the Julian calendar—which, given the current 13-day gap between calendars—pegs Enkutatash as September 11 on the Gregorian calendar.

Beyond Ethiopia, many families around the world have begun marking Enkutatash. The Ethiopian African Millennium Group promoted a massive festival in 2007, and large celebrations have taken place in Washington, San Jose and Seattle. Long before the Western festivals for Enkutatash, though, the Rastafari—ardent believers in late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as the Messiah—have marked this event, with Nyabinghi drumming sessions, shared meals and joy.

Hungry? Try an easy-to-follow recipe for traditional Enkutatash wat (stew), courtesy of In Culture Parent.

ANNIVERSARY OF EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE

Rastafari and Ethiopians may note tomorrow’s 40th anniversary of the ousting of Emperor Haile Selassie, by the Dergue junta. On September 12, 1974, reformist officers toppled the monarchy that had ruled Ethiopia for centuries. Emperor Haile Selassie—nicknamed Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings—could trace his lineage back thousands of years, to (many believe) the Queen of Sheba. The final emperor of Ethiopia had ruled 26 million subjects and gained the worship of growing numbers of Rastafari—many of whom still believe today.

Centennial of United Negro Improvement Association; birth of Marcus Garvey

Black-and-white photo of seated adult Marcus Garvey

Today, Rastafari and followers of Marcus Garvey celebrate his birth anniversary; this year, many also mark the centennial of the organization Garvey founded, the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNDAY, AUGUST 17: Global celebrations, this summer, mark the centennial anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Exhibits in his name, lectures and events are drawing Rastafari devotees as well as families of Jamaican heritage and those interested in African-American history. In the midst of that observance, today marks the August 17, 1887, birth of Marcus Garvey.

Regarded as a prophet the likes of St. John the Baptist in the Rastafari religion, Garvey was born in Jamaica. During his lifetime, Garvey attracted millions of followers and built an enormously popular organization that honored African heritage in the Americas. Though his politics and viewpoints were regarded as controversial by many, Garvey earned the title of Jamaica’s first national hero and left an undeniable imprint on history.

LIFE AND TIMES:
THE STORY OF MARCUS GARVEY

Born the youngest of 11 children, Marcus Garvey developed a devotion to reading during childhood. After departing from Jamaica in 1910, Garvey worked as a newspaper editor, and began traveling; he attended college and, in 1914, organized the UNIA. As the organization grew, Garvey’s popularity soared—although opposition to his philosophies and ideas accompanied his success.

When the UNIA’s business, the Black Star Line, drew charges of mail fraud, the consequences would later haunt Garvey. Nonetheless, during that same time, the UNIA’s membership continued to grow—surpassing 4 million members. (Wikipedia has details.) Garvey tried to develop Liberia as a permanent homeland for the African Diaspora and spoke frequently on education, economics and independence.

During speeches in the 1920s, Garvey often spoke of looking to Africa for a black king who was to be crowned. When Haile Selassie I was crowned emperor of Ethiopia, many regarded Garvey as a prophet. The followers of this philosophy, who call themselves Rastafari, still believe Garvey to be a prophet.

In 1940, Garvey died in London, at age 52. Primarily, Garvey is memorialized globally for advancing a global mass empowerment focused on Africa and blacks of the Diaspora. Martin Luther King commented, in a speech in 1965, that Garvey “was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.”

IN THE NEWS:
UNIA CENTENNIAL

Last month, the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, D.C., praised the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the UNIA, duly noting Garvey’s heroic status in Jamaica and the continuing influence of his life in the lives of people in the Diaspora. (Atlanta Black Star reported.) This month, the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will be exhibiting a gallery of original photos, magazines, books and posters dedicated to Garvey’s cause and the UNIA. The exhibit will also showcase the UNIA’s current membership and activities. (Read more in this article.)

Interfaith Calendar: Religious and Cultural Observances 2021

A festive New Year’s greeting from the streets of Kathmandu in Nepal.

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.

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

In 2021, we are adding even more value to this calendar. Front Edge Publishing’s Susan Stitt, who regularly works with our many authors and contributing writers around the world, always keeps an eye out for connections between Holidays & Festivals—and the books we publish. This year, we have invited Susan to collaborate with Stephanie on this calendar listing by adding some natural pairings with our books. To keep this coverage clear for readers, we are marking Susan’s book suggestions in blue.

Interested in a particular observance? We may have a book for that!

Holidays and Festivals January 2021

JANUARY 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. We’ve got related books. This year also is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, so our first new book in January will be Bill Tammeus’s Love, Loss and Endurance

Black-and-white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in suit with microphones, speaking outdoors

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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 nearest Sunday, January 3, in 2021)

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—Law Enforcement Appreciation Day We’ve got a book for that: 100 Questions and Answers About Police Officers, Sheriff’s Deputies, Public Safety Officers and Tribal Police

10—Baptism of the Lord (Christian)

14—Maghi Lohri (Sikh)

14—Makar Sankranti / Pongal (Hindu)

16—Religious Freedom Day We’ve got a book for that: Check out all the volumes of our Bias Busters series exploring religious and cultural diversity.

17—World Religion Day We’ve got a book for that: The Tree of World Religions

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

18—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (U.S.) We’ve got a book for that: Blessed Are the Peacemakers.

19—Timkat (Ethiopian Orthodox Christian)

20—Birthday of Guru Gobindh Singh (Sikh)

25—Conversion of St. Paul (Christian)

27—World Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day

27—Sundown, Tu B’Shvat (Jewish)

28—New Year (Buddhist, Mahayana)

Holidays and Festivals February 2021

FEBRUARY is another echo of ancient Rome, where februum meant “purification.” This year, the moveable season of Lent begins in February for the majority of Christians around the world. Lent begins in March in 2021 for those Orthodox Christians who follow different customs with their calendars. Among February’s month-long observances are Library Lovers Month and Black History Month in Canada and the U.S. (October in the UK). We’ve got many books for that. Look for our coverage in February of books including 100 Questions and Answers About African Americans and The Black Knight and Not Just Black and White. FOR LENT—Our Lent: Things We Carry and The Flavors of Faith and Jesus Christ Movie StarAlso, check out Susan Stitt’s column on her picks for 7 Best Books for 40 Days of Lent.

Black-and-white stamp of Four Immortal Chaplains

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

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)

11—Our Lady of Lourdes (Catholic Christian)

12—Chinese New Year (International holiday)

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

15—Presidents’ Day (U.S.) We’ve got a book for that: 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln

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

16—Vasant Panchami (Hindu)

16—Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) (Christian)

17—Ash Wednesday / Lent begins (Christian)

19—National Caregivers Day (A unified national observance honoring caregivers has not yet been established, so there are various observances. The third Friday in February is one date and other groups mark the entire month of November.) We’ve got books for that: A Guide for Caregivers. In early 2021, we also will be publishing Now what? A Guide to the Gifts of Challenges of Aging.

21—Triodion begins (Orthodox Christian)

24—Sundown, Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days) begins (Baha’i)

25—Fast of Esther (Jewish)

25—Sundown, Purim (Jewish)

26—Magha Puja Day / Sangha Day (Buddhist)

28—Sundown, Nineteen-Day Fast begins (Baha’i)

Holidays and Festivals March 2021

MARCH‘s name recalls Mars, yet another Roman deity. Among March’s month-long observances are National Social Work Month and Women’s History Month, which includes International Women’s Day. We’ve got many books for that. Look for our coverage as we get closer to March.

St. Patrick stained glass

A stained-glass representation of St. Patrick.

1—St. David of Wales (Christian)

2—Read Across America Day

5—Day of Unplugging We’ve got a book for that: Sadie Sees Trouble

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

8—International Women’s Day We’ve got many books for that, especially Friendship and Faith.

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

11—Maha Shivaratri (Hindu)

12—Girl Scout Day We’ve got a book for that: Reuniting the Children of Abraham

13—Birthday of L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology)

14—Daylight Saving Time begins

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

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

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

19—St. Joseph’s Day (Christian)

19—Sundown, Naw-Ruz (Baha’i)

20—International Day of Nowruz, Nowruz (Zoroastrian)

20—Vernal (spring) equinox (Northern Hemisphere)

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

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

25—Feast of the Annunciation (Christian)

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

27—Fast of the Firstborn (Jewish)

27—Sundown, Pesach (Passover) begins (Jewish) We’ve got many books for that, including: Finding God in Unexpected Places: Wisdom for Everyone from the Jewish Tradition, The Flavors of Faith and This Jewish Life. As with many of these observances, look for our coverage of related books closer to Passover.

28—Palm Sunday (Christian)

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

28—Holika Dahan (Hindu)

29—Holi (Hindu)

29—Hola Mohalla (Sikh)

29—Vietnam War Veterans Day We’ve got books for that: 100 Questions & Answers about Veterans and The Black Knight.

Holidays and Festivals April 2021

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. We’ve got many books for that, but we especially want to highlight Light Shines in the Darkness: My Healing Journey through Sexual Abuse and Depression. We also will highlight 100 Questions and Answers about Arab Americans.

Eggs painted in various colors, detailed, in basket

1—Maundy Thursday (Christian)

2—Good Friday (Christian)

3—Black (Holy) Saturday (Christian)

4—Easter Sunday (Christian)

5—Easter Monday (Christian)

6—National Student Athlete Day We’ll have a book for that. In Spring 2021, we are publishing 30 Days with America’s High School Coaches, inspiring stories of real-life experiences with young athletes.

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

8—Sundown, Yom HaShoah (Jewish)

Hand holding black strand of prayer beads

12—Sundown, Ramadan begins (Islam) We’ve got books for that, including: The Beauty of Ramadan and Our Muslim Neighbors. Look for more coverage of related books closer to the season of Ramadan.

13—Ugadi / Gudi Padwa (Hindu)

14—Baisakhi (Vaisakhi) (Sikh)

15—Sundown, Yom HaZikaron (Jewish)

16—Sundown, Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Jewish)

19—Sundown, First Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

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

21—Ridvan (Baha’i)

22—Earth Day We’ve got books for that, including God Is Just Love: Building Spiritual Resilience and Sustainable Communities for the Sake of Our Children and Creation.

24—Lazarus Saturday (Orthodox Christian)

25—Palm Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

25—Mahavir Jayanti (Jain)

27—Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu)

27—New Year (Buddhist, Theravada)

27—Sundown, Ninth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

29—Sundown, Lag B’Omer (Jewish)

30—Sundown, Twelfth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

30—Holy Friday (Orthodox Christian)

Holidays and Festivals May 2021

MAY‘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. We’ve got many books for that, so please look for coverage of related books closer to May.

Words for Mother's Day on yellow with flowers

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

1—Holy Saturday (Orthodox Christian)

1—Free Comic Book Day We’ve got a book for that: Bullying Is No Laughing Matter.

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

5—Cinco de Mayo We’ve got a book for that: True Border, 100 Questions and Answers about the U.S.-Mexico Frontera

6—National Day of Prayer (U.S.) We’ve got a book for that: The Tree of World Religions

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

9—Mother’s Day (U.S.) We’ve got many great books for mothers. Look for coverage of those gift ideas closer to Mother’s Day.

12—Sundown, Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan ends) (Islam)

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

14—Mothering Sunday (UK)

14—Akshaya Tritiya (Hindu, Jain)

15—Peace Officers Memorial Day We’ve got a book for that: 100 Questions and Answers About Police Officers, Sheriff’s Deputies, Public Safety Officers and Tribal Police

16—Sundown, Shavuot (Jewish)

16—Honor Our LGBT Elders Day We’ve got books for that, including: 100 Questions and Answers About Gender Identity and 100 Questions and Answers About Sexual Orientation.

22—Sundown, Declaration of the Bab (Baha’i)

23—Pentecost (Christian)

24—Whit Monday (Christian)

27—Sundown, Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

30—Trinity Sunday (Christian)

31—Memorial Day (U.S.) We’ve got books for that: 100 Questions & Answers about Veterans and The Black Knight and Guide for Grief.

Holidays and Festivals June 2021

JUNE brings a wide 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. We’ve got many books about diversity, including: 100 Questions and Answers About Gender Identity and 100 Questions and Answers About Sexual Orientation and Bullying Is No Laughing Matter and Embracing Love and Changing Our Mind.

Dad tie words

3—Corpus Christi (Catholic Christian) (Observed on nearest Sunday, June 6, in 2021)

6—National Cancer Survivors Day We’ve got books for that, including the upcoming Shining Brightly, plus Struck by HopeGodSigns, and A Cute Leukemia.

9—St. Columba of Iona (Christian)

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

11—Sacred Heart of Jesus (Catholic Christian)

14—Flag Day (U.S.)

14—Birthday of the U.S. Army We’ve got books for that: 100 Questions & Answers about Veterans and The Black Knight.

16—Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib (Sikh)

19—New Church Day (Swedenborgian Christian)

19—Juneteenth

20—Father’s Day (U.S.) We’ve got lots of books to recommend for Fathers. Look for coverage closer to this date. 

20—Pentecost (Orthodox Christian)

20—Summer solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

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

24—St. John the Baptist (Christian)

27—The Sunday of All Saints (Orthodox Christian)

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

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

Holidays and Festivals July 2021

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.) We have a book for that: American History Made Easy.

8—Sundown, Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i)

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

17—Sundown, Tisha B’Av (Jewish)

17—Sundown, Hajj begins (Islam) We’ve got a book for that: Our Muslim Neighbors.

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

19—Sundown, Eid al-Adha (Islam)

23—Birthday of Haile Selassie (Rastafari)

24—Pioneer Day (Mormon) We’ve got a book for that: 100 Questions & Answers about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

23—Sundown, Tu B’Av (Jewish)

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

Holidays and Festivals August 2021

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

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

1—Dormition Fast (Orthodox Christian)

6—Feast of the Transfiguration, Transfiguration of Our Lord (Catholic Christian, Anglican Christian, Orthodox Christian) (Note: In some liturgical calendars (ex: Lutheran and United Methodist), the last Sunday in the Epiphany season—February 14, this year—is also devoted to this event)

9—Sundown, Hijri (New Year) (Islam)

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

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

15—Dormition of the Theotokos (Orthodox Christian)

18—Sundown, Ashura (Islam)

22—Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)

30—Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)

Holidays and Festivals September 2021

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. We have lots of books about coping with cancer and caregiving.

Honey and biscuits

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

1—Ecclesiastical New Year (Orthodox Christian)

4—Paryushan Parvarambha begins (Jain)

6—Labor Day (U.S.)

6—Sundown, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish) As the Jewish High Holy Days begin in 2021, our readers will hear about our whole array of books with Jewish themes.

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

10—Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu)

11—Patriot Day (U.S.) This is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. We have a number of books that include this important historical milestone, which changed interfaith and cross-cultural relationships. In 2021, our newest book on this theme is Bill Tammeus’s Love, Loss and Endurance: A 9/11 Story of Resilience and Hope in an Age of Anxiety.

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

11—Paryushan Parva (Jain)

15—Sundown, Yom Kippur (Jewish)

20—Sundown, Sukkot (Jewish)

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

22—Autumnal (fall) equinox (Northern Hemisphere)

27—Meskel (Ethiopian Eritrean Orthodox Christian)

27—Sundown, Shemini Atzeret (Jewish)

28—Sundown, Simchat Torah (Jewish)

29—Michael and All Angels (Christian)

Holidays and Festivals October 2021

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. We’ve got books for both of these observances. By October, we will remind readers about helpful books for families coping with cancer and caregiving. Among our resources to combat bullying, we’ve got Bullying Is No Laughing Matter and The New Bullying.

Close-up of pile of candy corn4—St. Francis Day (Blessing of the Animals) (Catholic Christian)

7—Navaratri (Hindu)

11—Indigenous Peoples Day We’ve got a book for that: Dancing My Dream.

11—Columbus Day (U.S.) We have a book for that: American History Made Easy.

11—Thanksgiving (Canada)

15—Daesara, Dussehra (Hindu)

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

18—Sundown, Mawlid an-Nabi (Islam)

31—Reformation Day (Protestant Christian)

31—All Hallows Eve (Christian)

31—Samhain (Wicca, pagan)

Holidays and Festivals November 2021

NOVEMBER 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—so we will highlight various books as we approach this month.

Girl poses with candle-lit bowls of oil

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

1—All Saints (Christian)

2—All Souls’ Day (Catholic Christian)

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

5—Sundown, Birth of the Bab (Baha’i)

6—Sundown, Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

7—Daylight Saving Time ends

11—Veterans Day (U.S.) We’ve got books!

15—Nativity Fast begins (Orthodox Christian)

21—Christ the King (Christian)

24—Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib (Sikh)

24—Sundown, Day of the Covenant (Baha’i)

25—Thanksgiving (U.S.) We’ve got books!

26—Sundown, Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha (Baha’i)

28—First Sunday of Advent (Advent begins) (Christian) We’ve got books!

28—Sundown, Hanukkah (Chanukah) begins (Jewish) We’ve got books!

30—St. Andrew’s Day (Christian)

Holidays and Festivals December 2021

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

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

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands.

6—St. Nicholas Day (Christian)

7—Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (U.S.) We’ve got books!

8—Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) (Buddhism)

8—Immaculate Conception of Mary (Catholic Christian)

12—Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hispanic Catholic Christian)

16—Posadas Navidenas begins (Hispanic Christian)

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)

26—Feast of the Holy Family (Catholic Christian)

28—Holy Innocents (Christian)

31—Watch Night (Christian)

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NOTE TO READERS

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].