Ohio University

Religious Observations/Holidays

OHIO's Guide to Religions

Religious identity and development is an important part of the university experience for many and affects how we all understand and interact with the greater world around us. OHIO's Guide to Religions serves as a general educational and reference tool for the OHIO community. This guide is intended to help expand understanding and strengthen relationships of the diverse religious and non-religious groups at OHIO.

How to Make This Guide Work for You

  • Check dates before scheduling critical deadlines, events, or activities.
  • Accommodate observant individuals with reasonable support. Consider food and beverage restrictions when planning menus. Provide opportunities for time away from the classroom and workplace. Allow vacation time off and avoid important academic and workplace deadlines and activities.
  • Ask others how they commemorate their occasion. Many individuals affiliated with the same group observe one important day in various ways.
  • Discover new experiences and learn about the history, culture, and significance of the day with special foods, speakers, displays, and more.

Significant Dates, Practices and Accommodations

Holiday and Recommended Accommodations

Date(s) Observed

Eid al-Adha—*begins at sundown (Islamic)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Eid al-Adha is a major festival that celebrates the willingness to make sacrifices in the name of one’s faith. According to legend, the prophet Ibrahim was ordered to sacrifice his son in God’s name. When Ibrahim was prepared to kill his son, God stepped in and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead. This holiday celebrates Ibrahim’s total faith in God, and Muslims view this holiday as an important annual reminder.

General Practices: Prayers, gift giving, prayers, and sometimes slaughtering of sheep, with a portion of the meat gifted to the poor.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on the first day. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

2020

July 30 - August 3

2021

July 20 - 23, 2021

Lammas / Lughnasadh (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

A celebration of the beginning of the harvest. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: Making and consuming dishes with the first fruits of the harvest.

2020

August 1

2021

August 1

Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)

The Rakhi festivity falls in the holy month of Shravan; The origin and history of Rakhi can be dated back to the mythological Pouranik times.

General Practices: A day to acknowledge siblings and their relationships.

2020

August 3

2021

August 21

Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)

This two-day festival celebrates the birth of Krishna, a widely-worshiped Hindu god. Krishna is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher, and philosopher.

General Practices: During this festival, Hindus are likely to forgo sleep in order to sing bhajans, traditional Hindu songs. Many Hindus also fast during the first day of the festival. Dances, songs, and plays depicting the life of Krishna are common.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines on this day, since it is likely that students will be operating on very little sleep.

2020

August 11

2021

August 29

Rosh Hashanah—* begins at sundown (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Start of the Jewish New Year, day of judgment and remembrance; the Jewish calendar celebrates the New Year in the seventh month (Tishrei) as a day of rest and celebration ten days before Yom Kippur

General Practices: Prayer in synagogue and festive meals

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. If planning an event, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

2020

September 18 - 20 

2021

September 6 - 8

Mabon / Alban Elfed / Autumnal Equinox (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Also referred to as Harvest Home, the Feast of the Ingathering, and Meán Fómhair. Mabon is the second celebration of the harvest, a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: At Mabon, day and night are in equal balance. It is a time to offer gratitude for the blessings of the harvest and also to begin to prepare for turning inward. Making dishes with apples, squash and pumpkins as part of ritual celebration is customary.

2020

September 22

2021

September 22

Chuseok

One rather unique holiday in South Korea is called “Chuseok”. Chuseok means “Autumn Eve” in Korean and is a harvest festival that lasts for three days straight. It is scheduled based on the Korean lunar calendar, but it also always comes around the time of the Autumnal Equinox, which comes in late September.

Chuseok is sometimes referred to as “Korean Thanksgiving” due to its harvest associations and its timing in Autumn. Many South Koreans visit the home town of their ancestors for Chuseok and feast there on traditional foods like songpyeon, a rice cake with a special stuffing that is steamed over pine needles, and rice wine. Korean pancakes and fresh fruits are also commonly consumed during Chuseok.

There are typically ancestor memorial services held in Korean homes on this holiday, and people will also visit the graves of their ancestors. In some rural areas, it is tradition for some people dress up like cows or turtles and wander from door to door as part of a musical band. Many exchange gifts as well, and games like archery contests, tug-o-war, and Korean wrestling are often played.

2020

September 30 - October 2

2021

September 20 - September 22

Navaratri (Hindu)

Navaratri is one of the greatest Hindu festivals, and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. During this time, Hindus worship Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.

General Practices: Durga is the mother goddess, and so Hindus try to visit their mothers and other relatives during this time. Some Hindus will pray and fast, and there are often feasts and dances.

2020

Oct. 17 - 25, 2020

2021

October 6 - 14

Yom Kippur—*begins at sundown (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Yom Kippur is often considered the holiest day of the year for Jews, and the day is dedicated to atonement and abstinence.

General Practices: During Yom Kippur, Jews fast from before sundown until after sunset, and light a Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the night of Yom Kippur.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date and after a day of fasting.

2020

September 27 - 28

2021

September 15 - 16

 

Sukkot—*begins at sundown (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

A week-long celebration which begins with the building of Sukkah for sleep and meals; Sukkot is named for the huts Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert before reaching the promised land.

General Practices: Families in the United States commonly decorate the sukkah with produce and artwork.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on the first two days. If planning an event, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

2020

October 2 - 9

2021

September 21 - 27

Shemini Atzeret —*begins at sundown (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Also known as Atzereth, this is a fall festival, which includes a memorial service for the dead and features prayers for rain in Israel.

General Practices: Jews light a Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on Shemini Atzereth (the 8th night of Sukkot).

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. If planning an event, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

2020

October 10 - 11

2021

September 28 - 29

Simchat Torah —*begins at sundown (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Simchat Torah marks the completion of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah in the synagogue and the beginning of the new cycle.

General Practices: Practitioners dance in synagogues as all the Torah scrolls are carried around in seven circuits.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on this date. Kosher restrictions apply.

2020

October 11

2021

September 29

Birth of Bahá'u'lláh (Baha’i)
Holiday with significant work restriction

This holiday celebrates the birthday of Bahá'u'lláh, one of the Baha’I faith’s most important figures. For Bahá'ís, the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh is a Holy Day celebrating the rebirth of the world through the love of God, just as Christmas is for Christians.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. (Baha’i employees will likely request to have this day off.)

2020

November 12

2021

November 12

Samhain (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

One of the four "greater Sabbats" and considered by some to be the Wiccan New Year. A time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, welcome those born during the past year into the community, and reflecting on past relationships, events and other significant changes in life.

General Practices: Paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died.

2020

 

October 31 – November 1

2021

October 31 – November 1

Diwali (Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Diwali—the Hindu “festival of lights”—is an extremely popular holiday for multiple religions throughout Southern Asia. Diwali extends over five days, and celebrates the victory of good over evil. The Times of India described Diwali as “a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple.” Fireworks, oil lamps, and sweets are common, making this a favorite holiday for children. The lamps are lit to help the goddess Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes.

General Practices: Lighting oil lamps and candles, setting off fireworks, and prayer.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on this date. Hindu employees will likely request a vacation day on this date.

2020

November 14

2021

November 4

Yule / Midwinter / Alban Arthan / Winter Solstice (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

The longest night of the year followed by the sun's "rebirth" and lengthening of days. In most traditions, Yule is celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. Some pagans consider Yule to be the beginning of the new year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: Burning the yule log (which was traditionally part of last year’s Yule tree) is an act of faith and renewal that, indeed, the light, and the warmth will return.

2020

December 21 – January 1

2021

December 21 - January 1

Hanukkah / Chanukah —*begins at sundown (Jewish)

Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights, and lasts for eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish struggle for religious freedom. The history of the holiday involves a historic military victory in which a Jewish sect called the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks. The celebration commemorates a miracle in which a sacred temple flame burned for eight days on only one day’s worth of oil.

General Practices: On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jewish families light an additional candle of the menorah candelabrum until all eight candles are lit. Jews celebrate with food and song, as well as exchanging gifts for eight days.

Recommended Accommodations: Academics and work permitted, not a work holiday. Provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply—potato pancakes, doughnuts or other fried food is customary).

2020

December 11 - 18

2021

November 29 - December 6

Christmas —*begins at sundown (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Christmas is an annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah whose message and self-sacrifice began the Christian religion.

General Practices: Many celebrate this holiday by giving gifts, attending church services, decorating Christmas trees, and visiting family.

Recommended Accommodations: This is a national holiday in the United States, so special accommodations are likely not required.

2020

December 24 - 25

2021

December 24 - 25

Gantan-sai (Shinto)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Gantan-sai is the annual New Year festival of the Shinto religion.

General Practices: Practitioners pray for inner renewal, prosperity, and health, as well as visiting shrines and visiting friends and family.  

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date (work holiday

2021

January 1

2022

January 2

Epiphany / Twelfth Night / Three Kings Day (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

This date is also known as Befana Day; commemorates the revelation of God through Jesus Christ and marks the time the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem and presented gifts to the baby Jesus.

General Practices: Prayer, festive meals, offerings, gifts

2021

January 6

2022

January 6

Korean New Year (SeollalSŏllal)

The Korean New Year is one of the most important traditional Korean holidays. The celebration usually lasts three days: the day before Korean New Year, Korean New Year itself, and the day after Korean New Year. During this time, many Koreans visit family, perform ancestral rites, wear hanok, eat traditional food, and play folk games. Additionally, children often receive money from their elders after performing a formal bow.

Korean New Year generally occurs on the second new moon after the winter solstice.

2021

February 12

Chinese New Year (Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist)
Holiday with significant work restriction

This is the most important of traditional Chinese holidays.

General Practices: Families gather together to spend the evening preparing boiled dumplings and festive meals and giving of money to children in red envelopes.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on this date. Many Chinese employees will probably request this day off.

2021

February 12

2022

February 1

Imbolc / Candlemas (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Also referred to as the Feast of Pan, Feast of Torches, Feast of Waxing Lights, and Oimele. Celebrates the coming of spring and recovery of the Earth Goddess after giving birth to the Sun God at Yule. For many traditions, a time for initiations, re-dedication and pledges for the coming year. One of the four "greater Sabbats."

General Practices: Activities might include making candles, reading poetry and telling stories.

2021

February 1 - 2

2022

February 1 - 2

Setsubun-sai (Shinto)

Setsubun-sai marks the beginning of Spring, and is known as the “bean-throwing festival. The faithful scatter roasted beans to bring good luck to the new season.

2021

February 3

2022

February 3

Magha Puja Day (Buddhist)

Magha Puja Day commemorates an important event in the life of the Buddha, in which the four disciples traveled to join the Buddha.

2021

February 27

2022

February 16

Ash Wednesday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

This is the first day of Lent, the period of forty days before Easter in which many Christians sacrifice ordinary pleasures to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice.

General Practices: On this day, there are special church services, and the faithful wear a cross of ashes marked on foreheads. Most Christians abstain from meat on this day.

Recommended Accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested—prohibitions include animal products.

2021

February 17

2022

March 2

Purim —*begins at sundown (Jewish)

Purim commemorates the time when the Jews were living in Persia and were saved by the courage of a young Jewish woman called Esther.

General Practices: Many Jews hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, dressing in costumes, and read the Book of Esther. Triangular, fruit-filled pastries are eaten in opposition to the villain Haman, who wore a three-cornered hat.

Recommended Accommodations: Purim is not subject to the restrictions on work that affect some other holidays;  however, some sources indicate that Jews should not go about their ordinary business at Purim out of respect for the festival. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (kosher restrictions apply).

2021

February 26

2022

March 17

International Nowruz Day

Nowruz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21st. It is celebrated as the beginning of the new year by more than 300 million people all around the world and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions. Find more information on the United Nations International Nowruz Day website.

2021

March 21

2022

March 21

Naw Ruz

Naw Ruz, meaning “the new day,” is the Bahá’í New Year festival. Naw Ruz is also the Zoroastrian New Year, which may have given rise to its celebration as Persian New Year as well. In addition, various Central Asian communities observe a version of this New Year holiday.1 There are many western spellings of the Persian name for this holiday, but “Naw Ruz” is the most common for the Bahá’í holiday. It symbolizes the spring season and falls at the spring equinox, but it has been fixed at March 21st for those celebrating outside Iran. Bahá’í days begin at sunset, so the holiday will begin on the evening of March 20th. Naw Ruz marks the first day of the month Baha, which is the first month in the Bahá’í calendar. The New Year is a joyous day of celebration. Find more information about Naw Ruz here.

2021

March 21

2022

March 21

Holi (Hindu)

Also known as the “Festival of Colors,” this holiday can be traced to Hindu scriptures commemorating good over evil. This date is also a celebration of the colorful spring and a farewell to the dull winter.

General Practices: Hindus often sprinkle colored water and powder on others and celebrate with bonfires and lights, signifying victory of good over evil.

2021

March 29

2022

March 18

Ostara / Alban Eilir / Spring Equinox (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Also known as Eostre. Regarded as a time of fertility and conception. In some Wiccan traditions, it is marked as the time when the Goddess conceives the God's child, which will be born at the winter solstice. One of eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: Lighting fires to commemorate the return of light in the spring and to honor the God and Goddess. Coloring eggs as a way of honoring fertility is also practiced.

2021

March 21

2022

March 20

Palm Sunday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

A commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as crowds lined his path with palm fronds

General Practices: Prayer, distribution of palm leaves commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion.

2021

March 28

2022

April 10

Buddha Day / Visakha Puja (Buddhist)

This holiday is traditionally known as Buddha’s birthday. It is the major Buddhist festival, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.

General Practices: Buddhists often decorate their homes and visit their local temples. Observers are encouraged to refrain from slaughtering and to avoid eating meat on this date.

Recommended Accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested, and offer vegetarian options when planning menus for events on this date.

2021

May 8

 

Pesach / Passover —*begins at sundown (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Pesach is a week-long observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II (one of three pilgrimage festivals).

General Practices: Family gatherings, ritualized meals called Seders, reading of the Haggadah, lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the last night of Passover.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first two and last two days of the holiday, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply—the use of leavening is prohibited so, for example, matzah is eaten in place of bread.)

2021

March 28 - April 4

2022

April 16 - 23

Holy Thursday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

Thursday before Easter, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles.

General Practices: Prayer, Communion (Eucharist), meals, and foot-washing ceremonies among some Christian denominations

2021

April 1

2022

April 14

Good Friday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

Friday before Easter, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; among some denominations of Christianity and in many countries marks a day of fasting.

General Practices: Prayer, fasting, and noon or afternoon services in some Christian denominations.

Recommended Accommodations:  Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the date.

2021

April 2

2022

April 15

Easter (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

General Practices: Celebration of renewal.

2021

April 4

2022

April 17

Vaisakhi (Sikh)

Vaisakhi is the Sikh new year festival and commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born. Vaisakhi is also a long-established harvest festival.

General Practices: There are often parades, dancing, and singing throughout the day. These celebrations involve music, singing, and chanting of scriptures and hymns.

2021

April 13

2022

April 14

Good Friday (Eastern Orthodox)

Friday before Easter, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; among some denominations of Christianity and in many countries marks a day of fasting.

General Practices: Prayer, fasting, confession, and church services as well as the wrapping or dying of eggs (often red) in preparation for Easter Sunday.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the date.

2021

April 30

2022

April 22

Easter (Eastern Orthodox)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

General Practices: Celebration of renewal.

2021

May 2

2022

April 24

Yom HaSho’ah —*begins at sundown (Jewish)

Holocaust Remembrance Day; a day to remember the lives and names of Jewish victims and activists of the Holocaust.

General Practices: Ceremonies or events to remember Holocaust victims who died during World War II; activities may include lighting memorial candles and reciting the Kaddish, which is a prayer for the departed

Recommended Accommodations: This is not a work holiday—academics and work are permitted. Provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

2021

April 8

2022

April 28

Ramadan—*begins at sundown (Islamic)

Ramadan is an occasion to focus on faith through fasting and prayer, and is one of the most important Muslim holidays. Ramadan is notable because the Qur’an was first revealed during this month, and Muslims see the Qur’an as the ultimate form of guidance for mankind. The night that the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad is called Lailat ul Oadr, and standing in prayer this one night is thought to eclipse months of worship.

General Practices: Fasting is required during the entire month of Ramadan. Muslims refrain from food and beverages during the daylight hours, and smoking and sexual relations are forbidden. Worshipers break the fasting each night with prayer, reading of the Qu’ran, and a meal called the iftar. In addition, many Muslims also attend night prayers at Mosques. Muslims also believe that their good actions bring a greater reward during this month than any other time of the year, so almost all Muslims try to give up bad habits during Ramadan.

Recommended Accommodations: If possible, avoid scheduling major academic deadlines during this time. Be sensitive to the fact that students and employees celebrating Ramadan will be fasting during the day (continuously for 30 days) and will likely have less stamina as a result. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

2021

April 13

2022

April 3

Beltane (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

The fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: Jumping the balefire,dancing the MayPole.

2021

May 1

2022

May 1

Eid al-Fitr —*begins at sundown (Islamic)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Eid al-Fitr means "break the fast", and is the last day of Ramadan, marking the end of a month of fasting.

General Practices: Muslims often pray, exchange gifts, give money to children, feast, and celebrate with friends and family.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. Employees will likely ask to take a vacation day on this day, and that request should be granted if at all possible.  If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

2021

July 19 - 20

 

Shavuot —*begins at sundown (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction

Commemorates receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai (two of three pilgrimage festivals)

General Practices: Evening of devotional programs and studying the Torah, lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the second night of Shavuot.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first two and last two days of the holiday. Provide food accommodation as requested. (Kosher restrictions apply—although it is customary to eat dairy).

2021

May 17 - 18

2022

June 5 - 6

Ascension of the Baha’ullah (Baha’i)

Commemorates the death of the founder of the Baha’i faith; Baha’llah died on May 29, 1892.

General Practices: Devotional programs and reading from the scriptures

2021

May 29

2022

May 29

Litha / Midsomer / Alban Hefin / Summer Solstice / (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

A celebration of the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. Celebration of the the Goddess manifesting as Mother Earth and the God as the Sun King. 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. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: Lighting to bonfires and watching the sun rise

2021

June 24

2022

June 21

Tisha B’Av—*begins at sundown (Jewish)

Commemorates a series of Jewish tragedies including the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem.

General practices: Fasting and mourning.

Recommended accommodations: Plan limited activities after a fast.

2021

July 18

2022

August 7