Cultural and Religious Holy Days

Below is a list of some of the major cultural and religious holy days for 2023.  This list is updated and collated by the Lewis & Clark Spiritual Life staff from a variety of sources.  We make no guarantees of 100% accuracy but we do our best and welcome corrections.  We’ve bolded holidays that we’ve found to most impact our students.  See further notes below.

We also maintain a Google Calendar of this info which you can add to your own calendar — most convenient!

Academic Calendars with information about classes, examinations, and other important dates are available through the Registrars Office: CAS, Law School, Graduate School.

See also our “Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observance and Student Absences.”

January 2023

  • January 6 – Feast of the Epiphany: It always falls 12 days after Christmas to mark when the magi arrived in Bethlehem.
  • January 7 – Orthodox Christmas: Using the Julian calendar, Orthodox Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth
  • January 14 – Orthodox New Year: this date marks the start of the Julian calendar
  • January 14 – Makar Sankranri: It is the only Hindu festival that is based on the solar calendar instead of the lunar. Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition. Makara Sankranti is the celebration of the sun’s journey from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere, and it is accepted as a special or auspicious time. 
  • January 15 – World Religion Day: this date is celebrated in the Baha’i faith and highlights the common themes across various faiths and religions worldwide.
  • January 20 – Guru Gobind Singh’s Birthday: Guru Gobind Singh is the tenth Sikh Guru and spiritual master. This date commemorates the day he was born.
  • January 22Lunar New Year: Celebrated as the most important holiday of the year in the East Asian Lunar Calendar (also known as Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean New Year.) The holiday is observed primarily in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Vietnam, and Korea, and also many Southeast Asian countries with significant populations of the above regions. 

February 2023

  • February 1 – Imbolc: This Pagan and Wiccan festival serves as the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox, celebrating fire, light, and the return of life.
  • February 2 – Candlemas: Also called Presentation of the Lord,Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or Hypapante in the Greek church. This Christian festival occurs 40 days after Christmas and commemorates the Mary’s dedication of Jesus to God in the Temple. Observed primarily in Catholic and Anglican communities.
  • February 5 – Tu Bishvat: In Judaism, this holiday is an ancient and authentic “Earth Day.”
  • February 15 – Parinirvana: In Mahãyãna Buddhism, this date is also known as Nirvana Day. It commemorates Buddha’s death and attainment of final nirvana.
  • February 18 – Shivaratri: An annual Hindu festival, Maha Shivaratri gives reverence to the Lord Shiva god. The festival is also known as the Great Night of Shiva. On the day of the festival, devotees of Lord Shiva fast and spend the day focused on Lord Shiva, meditating and chanting “Om Namah Shivaya.” The Shiva-lingam (a distinguishing representation of Lord Shiva) is decorated with flowers and garlands. It is customary to spend the entire night awake singing the praises of Lord Shiva.
  • February 18 – Lailat al Miraj: This Muslim holy day celebrates Muhammad’s pilgrimage from Mecca to Jerusalem. When Muhammad arrived, he ascended into Heaven.
  • February 22 – Ash Wednesday: The start of Lent in the Christian Church. Lent is the 40-day period of reflection, prayer and fasting before Easter. Name derives from use of ashes to signify penitence. Refraining from assigned work is not expected, but some may request to be absent from class to attend a service. Some may fast. 
  • February 22 - April 6 – The Christian observance of Lent, the 40-day period of reflection, prayer, and fasting before Easter.  Observance may include dietary restrictions, additional prayer times, and attendance at services.
  • February 24 – Festival of Ayyam-i-Ha: This multi-day Baha’i festival highlights charity, hospitality, gift-giving, and preparation of fasting before the New Year.

March 2023

  • March 7* – Purim: Also known as the “Feast of Lots,” this Jewish festival celebrates the survival of Jews who were marked for death by Persian rulers. Jews celebrate Purim by reading from the Book of Esther, giving tzedakah or charity, exchanging gifts, and attending festive meals. 
  • March 8 – Holi: Holi is a major Hindu festival and celebrates the onset of spring, along with good harvests and the fertility of the land. This festival is known best for the way people throw brightly colored powder and water over each other to celebrate the advent of spring. Then they bathe and cleanse themselves after which they distribute sweets amongst friends and relatives. Vibrant processions accompanied by folk songs and dances are also a characteristic of Holi celebrations. 
  • March 8 to March 10 – Hola Mohalla: This is a 3-day festival in which Sikhs enjoy communal meals, religious song and prayer, and martial arts performances.
  • March 19 – St. Joseph’s Feast Day: This Christian day celebrates Jesus’ legal father and Mary’s spouse. Observed by Catholics (though not a holy day of obligation), some in the Anglican Communion, and some Lutherans.
  • March 21 – Ostara: This Wiccan holiday is one of their eight Sabbats. It celebrates the spring equinox.
  • March 21 – Naw Ruz: This day marks the Persian and Baha’i New Year, which also occurs on the vernal equinox.
  • March 22 to March 31 – Navaratri: A festival in the Hindu faith that celebrates the Goddess Durga.
  • March 22 to April 21 – Ramadan: Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. Dates may vary and official dates may not be determined by religious authorities until the start of Ramadan. Observance may include fasting including abstention from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset, additional prayer times, and attendance at religious services.
  • March 25 – The Annunciation: This is a Christian celebration of  Angel Gabriel’s announcement that Mary would give birth to Jesus.

April 2023 

  • April 2-8 – Holy Week: Christian, primarily “Western” liturgical, including Palm Sunday (April 2) Maundy Thursday (April 6th) Good Friday (April 7th) and Holy Saturday (April 8th). Historically this week and Easter is the most sacred time of year for Christians. Observances may include attendance at religious services throughout the week. Good Friday and Holy Saturday observances may include dietary restrictions or fasting and abstention from celebratory activities, observance varies.
  • April 4 – Mahavir Jayanti: This holiday celebrates the birthday of Jainism founder Lord Mahavira.
  • April 5 (sundown) to April 13 (sundown) – Passover: A Jewish eight-day celebration, Passover marks the liberation of the children of Israel from bondage and their subsequent exodus from Egypt. A Passover seder - a meal following a specific ritual order retelling the story of the exodus, and including prayers, songs, and special food - is one of the most commonly observed Jewish practices. In addition to attending seders, many Jews observe Passover by refraining from eating or benefiting from chametz (leaven), bread or wheat/grain products, for the duration of the holiday. Observance may include dietary restrictions including abstention from leavened bread and many grain products, and attendance at religious services and Seders, especially the evenings of April 5 and April 6. 
  • April 9 – Easter: No other day is traditionally as sacred for the Christian community as Easter. This is the day Christians commemorate the resurrection of Christ. In some traditions, the services begin the night before with the lighting of a new fire and the blessing of a large Easter candle. Water is blessed and many are baptized. In the Catholic Church, there is a sprinkling of all people with the newly blessed Easter water as a sign of renewal of the baptismal commitment. In many Protestant communities, Easter is celebrated at a sunrise service early on Easter morning.
  • April 9-15  – Holy Week: Christian, primarily “Eastern” traditions. Observance may include dietary restrictions and attendance at additional services.
  • April 14 – Vaisakhi: This ancient festival celebrates both the Solar New Year and springtime harvest.
  • April 16 – Pascha/Easter: Christian, primarily “Eastern” traditions.
  • April 16 – Feast of the Divine Mercy: This Catholic feast day, celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, is based on the private revelations of St. Faustina Kowalska. 
  • April 22* – Eid al-Fitr: Eid al-Fitr is one of two major holidays celebrated by Muslims around the world. It can be translated as “the feast of fast-breaking” as it commemorates the end of the holy month of Ramadan in which Muslims who are able to do so will fast from before dawn until after sunset each day. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated by holding a community-wide prayer service in an open field or large hall which often attracts a large number of attendees, even those who do not typically attend communal prayer services throughout the year. The names for the holiday differ from culture to culture and country to country, though the Arabic “Eid al-Fitr” has become the standard in North America. Dates may vary, but expected to be the evening of Friday, April 21 through the evening of Saturday April 22nd. Observance may include attendance at religious services, especially early to mid-morning.

May 2023

  • May 1 – Beltane: A festival honoring life in the Pagan and Wiccan religions. It represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer.
  • May 5 – Buddha’s Birthday: A celebration of the Buddha’s birthday, and for some Buddhists, a day that also marks his enlightenment.
  • May 5* – Vesak: A Theravada Buddhist festival that observes the birth, death, and enlightenment of the Buddha.
  • May 18 – Ascension Day: This day is 40 days following Easter when Christians believe that Jesus ascended to Heaven.
  • May 23 – Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib: A day observed by Sikhs to celebrate the first martyr in their faith.
  • May 26* to May 27 – Shavuot: This holiday celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and a grain harvest.
  • May 28 – Pentecost: Pentecost, as its name implies, marks the 50th day after Easter. For the Christian church Pentecost is celebrated as the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit on the community.

June 2023

  • June 4 – Trinity Sunday: A Sunday that centers on the doctrine in the Christian church that God is three in one — the Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.
  • June 11 – Race Unity Day: A holiday in the Baha’i faith that promotes racial harmony and understanding.
  • June 8 – Feast of Corpus Christi: A Roman Catholic feast day marking the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
  • June 16 – Feast of the Sacred Heart: A Roman Catholic feast day commemorating Jesus’ heart and his love for all of humanity.
  • June 24 – Litha: A Pagan and Wiccan festival that starts on the summer solstice and celebrates midsummer.
  • June 18 to June 29 – Eid al-Adha: A holiday in the Islamic faith that ends the Hajj pilgrimage.
  • June 26 to July 1 – The Hajj: The annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca that’s required for all Muslims during their lifetime.

July 2023

  • July 9 – Declaration of the Bab: A significant day in the Baha’i faith that observes the Bab as the messenger of God.
  • July 9 – Martyrdom of the Bab: A day remembering the execution of one of the founders of the Baha’i faith.
  • July 26 to July 27 – Tisha B’Av: A holiday in the Jewish faith that commemorates the destruction of the Jewish temple that occurred once in 586 BCE and once in 70 CE in Jerusalem.
  • July 27 to July 28 – Day of Ashura/Muharram: Ashura marks the 10th day of the 1st month of Muharram on the Islamic lunar calendar. The day commemorates for Shia Muslims the death of Husayn ibn Ali who was the grandson of Muhammad in the Battle of Karbala of October 10, 680 CE. For Sunni Muslims the day relates to when Moses and his followers fled Egypt and where saved by God separating the Red Sea. Begins at sundown.
  • July 23 – Haile Selassie’s Birthday: The birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie, which is celebrated in Rastafarianism.
  • July 24 – Pioneer Day: A holiday celebrated in the state of Utah that marks the settling of LDS pioneers in the Great Salt Lake area.

August 2023

  • August 1 – Lughnasadh: This Pagan and Wiccan festival designates the start of the harvest season.
  • August 15 – Assumption of Mary: This is a holy day in the Catholic faith when Mary, the mother of Jesus, was assumed (body and soul) into Heaven. Holy Day of Obligation for attendance at Mass for Roman Catholics.
  • August 29* – Al-Hijra/Muharram: This holiday begins the Islamic lunar calendar. You may also hear it called Islamic New Year. It begins when the crescent moon is spotted. 

September 2023

  • September 5 to September 6 – Arbaeen: The day marking the end of the 40-day mourning period after the Day of Ashura for Muslims.
  • September 11 – Coptic New Year: A feast day (also called Nayrouz) that commemorates martyrs and confessors in Coptic Orthodox Christianity.
  • September 21 to September 29 – Mabon: Pagan and Wiccan religions use this day to mark the autumnal equinox. Dates and duration vary.
  • September 15 (sundown) to September 17 (sundown)– Rosh Hashanah: The two-day Jewish New Year that highlights rest and reflection. Is the first of the High Holidays and the 10 Days of Awe. Observance includes refraining from work, attending services, hearing the sound of the shofar, and holiday meals. 
  • September 24 (sundown) to September 25 (sundown) – Yom Kippur: This is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish faith, also known as the Day of Atonement and the end of the 10 Days of Awe. It is the second of the High Holidays devoted to prayer, repentance, and fasting. It is the most widely observed Jewish holiday of the year. Observance includes refraining from work, refraining from eating and drinking from sundown to sunsown, and attending religious services. 
  • September 27* – Mawlid: The celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad in the Islamic faith. Observance varies significantly by community.
  • September 29 to October 14 – Pitru Paksha: A period when members of the Hindu faith pay homage to their ancestors.
  • September 29* to October 6 – Sukkot: A day commemorating when Jews journeyed to the desert on the way to the promised land.

October 2023

  • October 24 – Dussehra: The final day of a 10-day Hindu festival that honors Asuj Navratras.
  • October 16* – Birth of the Bab: A day honoring the birthday of a co-founder of the Baha’i faith.
  • October 17 – Birth of Baha’u’llah: One of the nine holy days in the Baha’i faith that honors the birthday of one of the co-founders.
  • October 31 – Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve): This holiday has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “SAH-win”) and the Catholic All Saint’s Day.

November 2023

  • November 1-2 – Dias de los Muertos, Samhain, All Saints, and All Souls: Multiple overlapping religious traditions and cultures, including Wiccan/Neo-Pagan and Christian communities and Mexican and other Latin/x communties. Observance and duration vary.
  • November 2 – Anniversary of the Crowning of Haile Selassie: The day when Haile Selassie ascended the Ethiopian throne. This is one of the holiest days in the Rastafarian year.
  • November 27* – Guru Nanak Ji’s Birthday: A day commemorating the birth of Guru Nanak Ji who founded Sikhism.
  • November 12 – Diwali: A 5-day festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. It honors gods, goddesses, harvests, New Years, etc.
  • November 27 – Jain New Year: A day celebrated on the first day after the month of Kartika.
  • November 30 – St. Andrew’s Feast Day: St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Barbados, and Romania. This day honors him, his good works, and his canonization in the Catholic Church.

December 2023

  • December 3 to December 24 – Advent: Advent, from the Latin “coming,” is a season of four weeks of preparation for the coming of Christ, which Christians commemorate on Dec. 25. These four weeks are a time of joyful preparation. The Christian community in the Roman Catholic and Protestant parts of the Christian world celebrate the First Sunday of Advent four weeks prior to Dec. 25. Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar and their celebration of Christmas follows a slightly different calendar.
  • December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception: The day that Roman Catholics celebrate Mary’s conception without original sin.
  • December 7 to December 15 – Hanukkah: An 8-day celebration in the Jewish faith that honors the victory of Jews over Syrian Greeks.
  • December 21 – Yule: A Pagan and Wiccan holiday that celebrates the winter solstice.
  • December 25 – Christmas: An important Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • December 26 - January 1– Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa is a time for families and communities to come together to remember the past and to celebrate African American culture. Created in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates history, values, family, community and culture.
  • December 26 – St. Stephen’s Feast Day: The day commemorating St. Stephen’s life and service as he became the first Christian to die for the faith.

About this Calendar:

Notes about specific observances are offered based on relevance to event planning (such as dietary or fasting considerations.) These notes are not meant to be an exhaustive description of a holiday or observance. This calendar does not contain every holiday or observance that may be important to members of our community. Suggestions and corrections are welcomed. If you have questions, corrections, or additions regarding this calendar, please contact our office:

Dates change every year and may vary by community and tradition.

Calendar systems vary and many religious observances occur on different dates of the (Georgian) calendar each year. For example, members of the same overall religious tradition may observe a holiday based on different days based on local traditions or different interpretations of religious guidelines. Observances that might overlap with final exams one year might not overlap the next.

Observance varies within communities and traditions.

Not every member of a religious community will observe every holiday listed below for that community and there may be significant diversity in observance and even strong disagreement about a=observance within and between communities, even when such variance is not specified below.

Daily, weekly, and monthly observances:

This page does not include dates and times of daily, weekly, monthly, and other regular observances. We recommend asking for feedback from potential participants and announcing dates and times as early as possible to accommodate these practices. We are happy to discuss potential accommodations including dietary considerations, prayer space, schedules for all day events, alternative service times, and access to off-campus gatherings.


Many names and terms used in this calendar have multiple spellings and transliterations in English usage. Effort has been made to use widely recognized spellings. Some terminology is used for efficiency and clarity (such as reference to “Eastern” and “Western” Christianity) even as we acknowledge that they do not perfectly reflect current understandings of religious history and demographics. We welcome feedback and suggestions for improving this resource.


All holidays marked with * begin the prior evening.