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Holidays and Observances

This guide provides information about diverse cultural celebrations and religious holidays. It includes calendars and brief descriptions of the events. This resource can assist in event planning and classroom activities.

Christian Holidays and Observances

 Advent (begins) — Advent is the season of reflective preparation for the Nativity of Christ at Christmas.


 All Saints' Day (Hallowmas, All Hallows') — Day after Halloween.All Saints’ Day, also called All Hallows’ Day, Hallowmas, or Feast of All Saints, in the Christian church, a day commemorating all the saints of the church, both known and unknown, who have attained heaven.


 All Soul's DayAll Souls’ Day, in Roman Catholicism and Anglo-Catholicism, is the day for the commemoration of all the faithful departed, those baptized Christians who are believed to be in purgatory because they died with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls It is observed on November 2.


 Ash Wednesday -- The first day of Lent, a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God and marks the beginning of the penitential Lenten season

   Many Christians abstain from meat on this day. Provide food accommodation as requested.


 Christmas Day — Day before Christmas. Celebration of the birth of Jesus.


 Christmas Eve — Day before Christmas. Preparations for the Christmas Day celebrations.


 Christmas Fast — Orthodox Christian Fast. Lasts 40 days. 


Easter — Easter Sunday.  Most important of the Christian festivals.  Celebrates Jesus' resurrection from Crucifixion. The date of Easter Sunday is determined by the Gregorian calendar.

   Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.


Easter/Pascha (Orthodox) — Orthodox Easter Sunday. Orthodox Christians mark this day as the time to celebrate Jesus' resurrection from Crucifixion.  Also the most important orthodox Christian festival.

   Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.


Epiphany — Christian holiday commemorating the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, January 6th for most denominations, January 19th for Orthodox.


Good Friday — Good Friday marks the day of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is the Friday before Easter. 

   Fasting and abstaining from meat is practiced by some denominations. Provide food accordingly. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.


Holy Saturday — Day before Easter. Time is spent anticipating the resurrection of Jesus.


 Las Posadas — 9 day celebration leading up to Christmas Day commemorating the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each day represents one month of pregnancy for Mary carrying Jesus. Celebrated chiefly in Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of the Southwestern United States.


Maundy Thursday — Commemorates the Last Supper and falls on the Thursday before Easter.  Jesus established Eucharist ceremony. 


Our Lady of Guadalupe (Feast Day) — Honor Lady of Guadalupe. Roman Catholics honor the Empress of the Americas.


Palm Sunday — Last Sunday of Lent. It begins the Holy Week and commemorates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.


Shrove Tuesday — Pancake Day or Mardi Gras.


St. Stephen's Day — Feast of Stephen. Celebration of the first Christian martyr.


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity — The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an annual ecumenical celebration. Christians around the world are invited to pray for the unity of all Christians, to reflect on scripture together, to participate in jointly-organized ecumenical services, and to share fellowship.


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