Religious Holidays and Other Important Events

Please Note

Those holidays listed in red signify a holiday on which work is prohibited, there is a fast, or daily life is impacted in some way. Please email rsl@amherst.edu for more information.

Statement on Religious Accommodation


January–June 2023 Holidays

2023 Days Holiday Religion
Jan. 1 All Day

Gantan-Sai

On Gantan-sai, Japanese welcome in the New Year with prayers for renewal of hearts, good health, and prosperity. They wear their best clothes and visit shrines in large numbers, sometimes at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. During the seven days of the holiday, people visit one another's homes to offer good wishes for the coming year. Description provided by the Multifaith Calendar.

Shinto
Jan. 5 All Day

Birthday of Guru Gobindh Singh

The tenth Sikh Guru, he created the Khalsa, the Fellowship of the Pure, and as his successor he declared the Scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, to be the Sikh's Guru from that time on. Description provided by the Multifaith Calendar.

Sikh
Jan. 7 All Day

Christmas/Feast of the Nativity
Christmas celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Orthodox Christian
Jan. 14 All Day

Makar Sankranti

This harvest festival marks the change from a decrease to an increase of the sun. This observance is twinned with Lohri (celebrated by people from the Punjab region of South Asia), which also marks the passing of the winter solstice. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Hindu
Jan. 22 All Day

Lunar New Year

Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean New Year (4721): Year of the Rabbit. The first day after the new (dark) moon is a religious and cultural festival celebrated by Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans of Buddhist and other backgrounds as New Year’s Day. Tibetans may celebrate on a different date. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Buddhist
Feb. 2 Begins at sundown

Imbolc/Candlemas

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." Description provided by University of Missouri Office of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity.

Wiccan/Pagan
Feb. 18 All Day Maha Shivaratri
An evening celebration of the wedding of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. Description provided by Yale University Chaplain's Office.
Hindu
Feb. 22 All Day

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent in the Western Christian churches, the 40-day period of prayer, fasting, and repentance prepares Christians for Holy Week and Easter. Some Christians will receive a cross of ash on their foreheads at Ash Wednesday worship, signifying their mortality. The ashes are made by burning the palms used in the previous year's observance of Palm Sunday. Description provided by Yale University Chaplain's Office.

Christian

Feb. 27

All Day

Great Fast

The Great Fast is the start of the "Great Lent" for Orthodox Christians. This day, also called Clean Monday, occurs seven weeks before Orthodox Easter. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Orthodox Christian

March 2

Sunrise to sunset

Ala

Ala (Loftiness), nineteenth & final month of the Baha'i year, is the time of the 19-day fast (until March 20th) in preparation for Naw-Ruz. Those who are healthy and of age (15-70 years) abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Baha'i
March 6 Begins at sundown

Purim
Purim celebrates victory over an oppressive ruler, as related in the Book of Esther, which is read at this time. Description by Multifaith Calendar.

Jewish
March 7-8 All Day

Holi
Holi, a colorful and joyous festival that welcomes Spring, is dedicated to Krishna or Kama (longing). Referred to as the Festival of Colors, it is celebrated over two days with people throwing colorful powder and colored water. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Hindu
March 14 All Day

New Year's Day
Sikh New Year's Day of the Nanakshahi Era. This is the first day of Chet, the first month of the Sikh calendar. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Sikh
March 21 All Day

Naw-Ruz
Naw-Ruz is a New Year celebration observed by many Iranian and Turkic peoples across faith traditions. Within Zoroastrianism it celebrates the renewal of the world, the creation of fire, and the anniversary of Zarathustra receiving his revelation.  Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Zoroastrian
March 23 Begins at sundown

Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Neither food nor drink is allowed from dusk till dawn for the whole duration of the month of Ramadan. Every day of Ramadan starts with the special tradition of preparing for fasting with prayers and a meal, and ends with breaking the fast followed by the special series of evening prayers. The month of Ramadan lasts 29-30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon. Religious accommodations are advised for the first full day of the holiday. (Dates based on lunar observations in North America.) Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Muslim

March 30

All Day

Ramanavami
Ramanavami celebrates the birthday of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the God Vishnu. During the previous eight days, Hindus read the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, which tells the story of Rama. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Hindu

April 2

All Day

Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday celebrates the entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Christian
April 4 All Day

Mahavira-Jayanti
Mahavira-Jayanti celebrates the birthday of Lord Mahavira (Great Hero), the 24th Tirthankara (and the last of this time cycle). Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Jain
April 5 - April 13 Begins at sundown

Pesach/Passover
Pesach/Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt by Moses. Families and friends remember and retell the story of the exodus during Seders, meals that incorporate symbolic foods like matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine along with songs and unique family traditions. Religious accommodations are advised for the first, second, seventh, and eighth full days of Pesach. (Until April 12 for Reform Jews; Until April 13 for Orthodox and Conservative Jews) Description provided by Yale University Chaplain's Office.

Jewish
April 6 All Day

Holy (Maundy) Thursday
This religious holiday is not celebrated as a public holiday in the United States. Maundy Thursday services are part of a series of events for many Christians during "Holy Week", the days leading to Easter. Holy Thursday/Great Thursday/Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. Religious services on Maundy Thursday stress the details of that somber gathering.

Christian
April 6 All Day

Hanuman Jayanti
Hindu celebration of Hanuman who was an embodiment of Lord Rama. Devotion and selfless work are encouraged. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Hindu
April 7 All Day

Good Friday
On this Friday preceding Easter Sunday, Christians and friends throughout the world commemorate the suffering and death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Many Christians engage in fasting, acts of charity, silent contemplation, and reflection on Scripture on this day. For Catholic Christians, though this is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is set apart with strict fasting, abstinence, and attention to fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. Good Friday" is also known as "Holy Friday", "Great Friday", "Black Friday", and "Easter Friday". It is the first day of the Paschal Triduum of Holy Week.

Christian
April 9 All Day

Easter/Pascha
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. It initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost.Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Christian
April 14 All Day

Vaisakhi
Vaisakhi (Anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa) is important for Sikhs because on this day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru, removed the clerical system from Sikhism. Thus, he reaffirmed the direct connection between Sikhs and the Divine. Guru Gobind Singh Ji also created the Kahlsa Panth, the Fellowship of the Pure. Khalsa brothers are given the name Singh (Lion), and sisters are named Kaur (Princess or Lioness). Description provided by University of Missouri's Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Division.

Sikh
April 15 All Day

Holy Friday
Holy Friday commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e. his submission to death by crucifixion. Description provide by Multifaith Calendar.

Orthodox Christian
April 16 All Day

Easter/Pascha
Easter/Pascha celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. It initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Orthodox Christian

April 17

Begins at sundown

Yom HaShoah
Yom HaShoah is held in memory of the six million Jews who died as victims of Nazi atrocities (World War II). Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Jewish

April 21 - 22

Begins at sundown

Eid al Fitr
Eid al-Fitr, the Breaking of the Fast, celebrates the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Observance begins at sunset on April 21, but special worship and prayers begin on April 22. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Muslim

April 21 - May 2

All Day

Festival of Ridvan
The Festival of Ridvan, termed by Baha'u'llah, the "Most Great Festival" and the "King of Festivals", commemorates the twelve days that Baha'u'llah spent in the garden of Ridvan outside Bagdad. The festival commemorates Baha'u'llah's public declaration of His mission to His family and closest followers. The first, the ninth, and the twelfth days of Ridvan are Baha'i Holy Days on which work is suspended. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Baha'i
April 29 All Day

Ninth Day of Ridvan
The Ninth Day of Ridvan is when Baha'u'llah's family joined Him in the garden of Ridvan in Bagdad. Baha'is suspend work on this day. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Baha'i

May 1

All Day

Beltane
Beltane (also called May Day) celebrates the conjoining of the infinite potential of the Goddess with the life-sparking energy of the God in a sacred marriage, the basis of all creation. It is a time for balancing the feminine and masculine tides within the psyche as each celebrant prepares to participate in bringing the creative potential of the year to fruition. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Wiccan/Pagan
May 2 All Day

Twelfth Day of Ridvan
This holiday commemorates the departure of Bahá'u'lláh for Constantinople and brings to a close the Festival of Ridván. Work should be suspended on this holiday. Description provided by www.religionfacts.com.

Baha'i
May 5 All Day

Vesak
Vesak is the most important day of the year for Buddhists. It commemorates the birth, awakening, and passing away (paranibbana) of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. (Theravada). May be celebrated on different dates, according to different countries and traditions. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Buddhist
May 24 All Day

Declaration of the Bab
The Declaration of the Bab commemorates the day in 1844 on which He announced His identity as The Bab, or Gate, the Herald of the new age. Baha'is suspend work on this day. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Baha'i
May 25 Begins at sundown

Shavuot
Shavuot marks the conclusion of the period if seven weeks that follows Pesach. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Israelites and the completion of God's purpose to create a special people. It is celebrated for two days in the diaspora and for one day in Israel and among Reform Jews. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Jewish

May 28

All Day

Pentecost
Pentecost, is the commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus following his ascension (Acts 2:1-11). It comes fifty days after Easter/Pascha. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Christian

May 29

All Day

Ascension of Baha'u'llah
Ascension of Baha'u'llah marks the anniversary of the death of the founder of he Baha'i faith. It is commemorated at 4:00 am. Baha'is suspend work on this day. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Baha'i

June 4

All Day

Pentecost
Pentecost, is the commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus following his ascension (Acts 2:1-11). It comes fifty days after Easter/Pascha. Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Orthodox Christian

June 27 - 28

Begins at sundown

Day of Hajj
Day of Hajj / Day at Arafat commemorates the last revelation of the Prophet at Mount Arafat shortly before his death. Muslims on Hajj attend a service on the plains in front of Mount Arafat. (Observance begins at sunset of July 7, but special worship and prayers begin on July 8). Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Muslim
June 29 - 30 Begins at sundown

Eid al Adha
Eid al Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice) is the concluding act of pilgrimage and is observed even when not on pilgrimage. As Abraham offered his son, Ishmael, to God, Muslims offer sheep, goats and camels. They distribute the meat to the poor. (Observance begins at sunset of July 19, but special worship and prayers begin on July 20). Description provided by Multifaith Calendar.

Muslim

Statement on Religious Accommodation

In accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Amherst College subscribes to the following statement:

Any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make-up the examination, study, or work requirement missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to students because of availing themselves of the provisions of this section.

If you have any questions, please contact the Religious & Spiritual Life Staff.

For the sake of brevity, the holidays listed are those that to our knowledge represent our community. For a more exhaustive listing and explanation go to this Interfaith Calendar.