Religious Observances

Mount Holyoke College has provided this list In support of our religiously diverse student population. Note that this list is not exhaustive.


We are indebted to the Multifaith Action Society and Kerry Maloney, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life at Harvard Divinity School for their collective efforts to provide an invaluable resource to us.

Eve of Yom Kippur

Tue, Oct 4, 2022

(Day of Atonement) Observance begins at sundown. The conclusion of the 10 Days of Awe, Yom Kippur is the holiest and most solemn of all days in the the Jewish year. It is characterized by...

Navaratri

Tue, Oct 4, 2022

Navaratri is a nine night festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It is a festival characterized by worship and dance. The...

Dassehra

Wed, Oct 5, 2022

(Vijay Dasami) celebrates the victory of good over evil: of Lord Rama over the demon Ravan, and the Goddess Durga over a demon. It follows the nine-day celebration of Navaratri (nine nights) and...

Navaratri

Wed, Oct 5, 2022

Navaratri is a nine night festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It is a festival characterized by worship and dance. The...

Yom Kippur

Wed, Oct 5, 2022

(Day of Atonement) The conclusion of the 10 Days of Awe, Yom Kippur is the holiest and most solemn of all days in the the Jewish year. It is characterized by repentance, fasting, and forgiveness.

Navaratri ends

Thu, Oct 6, 2022

Navaratri is a nine night festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It is a festival characterized by worship and dance. The...

Eve of Sukkot

Sun, Oct 9, 2022

(Feast of Booths) Observance begins at sundown. An eight-day Jewish festival of booths (or tabernacles) and the fall harvest. The name refers to the booths (sukkot) used by Israelites during desert...

First Day of Sukkot

Mon, Oct 10, 2022

(Feast of Booths) An eight-day Jewish festival of booths (or tabernacles) and the fall harvest. The name refers to the booths (sukkot) used by Israelites during desert wanderings and conscructed in...

Second Day of Sukkot

Tue, Oct 11, 2022

(Feast of Booths) An eight-day Jewish festival of booths (or tabernacles) and the fall harvest. The name refers to the booths (sukkot) used by Israelites during desert wanderings and conscructed in...

Ghambar Ayathrem begins

Wed, Oct 12, 2022

Observed from October 12 - 16, this day celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of the winter crop, and the return of herds from pasture.

Ghambar Ayathrem ends

Sun, Oct 16, 2022

Observed from October 12 - 16, this day celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of the winter crop, and the return of herds from pasture.

Last Day of Sukkot

Sun, Oct 16, 2022

(Feast of Booths) An eight-day Jewish festival of booths (or tabernacles) and the fall harvest. The name refers to the booths (sukkot) used by Israelites during desert wanderings and conscructed in...

Eve of Simcḥat Torah

Mon, Oct 17, 2022

Observance begins at sundown. Simcḥat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law) is the beginning of the synagogue's annual Torah reading cycle. Reform Jews celebrate it along with Shemini Atzeret.

Shmini Atzeret

Mon, Oct 17, 2022

Shmini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Assembly) is a separate holiday concluding Sukkot and the entire fall holiday season. It marks the beginning of winter in the land of Israel.

Simcḥat Torah

Tue, Oct 18, 2022

Simcḥat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law) is the beginning of the synagogue's annual Torah reading cycle. Reform Jews celebrate it along with Shemini Atzeret.

Instalation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Thu, Oct 20, 2022

This day celebrates the passing on of the Guruship to the Holy Scriptures (the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Diwali/Deepavali or Deepawali or Tihar (Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist celebration)

Mon, Oct 24, 2022

A very popular festival known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali (Deepavali/Deepawali/Tihar in Nepal) is dedicated to the Goddesses Kali in Bengal and Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth) in the rest of...

Mahavira Nirvana

Tue, Oct 25, 2022

On this day (falling on Diwali), Mahavira (6th century BCE), the 24th Tirthankara, attained nirvana and release from the cycle of rebirth (moksha).

Birth of The Báb

Wed, Oct 26, 2022

The birth anniversary of The Báb (Herald of the new age for Bahá'ís). His shrine is at the Bahá'í World Centre, Haifa, Israel.

Birth of Bahá'u'lláh

Thu, Oct 27, 2022

The anniversary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í faith.

Samhain

Mon, Oct 31, 2022

This day celebrates the Celtic New Year. The dying God returns to the womb of the Goddess in preparation for rebirth at Yule. The souls of those who have died during the turning of the past year's...

Birthdate of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Tue, Nov 8, 2022

Founder of the Sikh faith and first of the Ten Gurus, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 CE. He was an accomplished poet; 974 of his hymns are contained in the Sikh Scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth...

Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

Thu, Nov 24, 2022

This day commemorates the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji (1621-1675), the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurus. He is remembered not only for his defence of the Sikh Faith, but also for willingly giving...

Day of the Covenant

Sat, Nov 26, 2022

This day celebrates the anniversary of the appointment of 'Abdul-Bahá, the son of Bahá'u'lláh, as the Centre of the Covenant.

Advent begins (Christmas Fast: E - New Calendar)

Sun, Nov 27, 2022

The Christmas Fast is the 40 day period before Christmas, ending on Christmas Eve. The New Calendar locates Christmas on December 25, the Old Calendar on January 7. (Eastern Churches)

Ascension of 'Abdul-Bahá

Mon, Nov 28, 2022

The Ascension of 'Abdul-Bahá, son of Bahá'u'lláh, commemorates His passing. Bahá'í's observe the Holy Day of the Ascension of 'Abdul-Bahá at 1:00 am, about the time of His ascension.

Bodhi Day

Thu, Dec 8, 2022

Anniversary of the historical Buddha's awakening. (Mahayana) Japan, North America

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mon, Dec 12, 2022

Commemorates the day on which Guadalupana (the Virgin of Guadalupe) appeared to San Juan Diego and her image appeared on his tilma (apron). The miraculous roses Juan Diego found and carried to the...

Eve of Ḥanukkah

Sun, Dec 18, 2022

Observance begins at sundown. The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces...

First Day of Ḥanukkah

Mon, Dec 19, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Ḥanukkah

Tue, Dec 20, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Ḥanukkah

Wed, Dec 21, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Yule

Wed, Dec 21, 2022

This day, which marks the New Year in the Anglo-Saxon and northern traditions of Wicca, is the celebration of the birth of the God as the Winter-born King, symbolized by the rebirth of the...

Ḥanukkah

Thu, Dec 22, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Ḥanukkah

Fri, Dec 23, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Ḥanukkah

Sat, Dec 24, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Christmas Day

Sun, Dec 25, 2022

Christmas celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is given more importance in Western Christianity than in Eastern. College offices are closed. Accommodation may be required...

Ḥanukkah

Sun, Dec 25, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Death Anniversary of Zarathustra

Mon, Dec 26, 2022

The anniversary of the death of Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the founder of the Zoroastrian faith. His dates are uncertain: the ancient Greeks dated him at ca. 6000 BCE. Modern scholarship suggests he...

Last Day of Ḥanukkah

Mon, Dec 26, 2022

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over occupying forces in 165 B.C.E., which...

Ghambar Maidyarem begins

Sat, Dec 31, 2022

This period (December 31 - January 4) celebrates the creation of animals. It is also the time for equitable sharing of food.

Ghambar Maidyarem ends

Wed, Jan 4, 2023

Begins December 31 and runs to January 4. Ghambar Maidyarem celebrates the creation of animals and is a time for an equitable sharing of food.

Birthdate of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666 - 1708)

Thu, Jan 5, 2023

The tenth and final Sikh Guru, he created the Khalsa, the Fellowship of the Pure, and declared the Scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, to be the Sikh's Guru from that time on.

Armenian Christmas

Fri, Jan 6, 2023

The Armenian Orthodox Church celebrates the nativity of Jesus on Epiphany. Accommodation Possible may be required for this observance/holy day. Suspension of work/classes may be requested by...

Epiphany (W)

Fri, Jan 6, 2023

Known as the Feast of Theophany (appearance of God) in Orthodox churches, the Feast of Epiphany (appearance or manifestation) comes 12 days after Christmas and closes the Christmas season with a...

Theophany (E - New Calendar)

Fri, Jan 6, 2023

Known as the Feast of Theophany (appearance of God) in Orthodox churches, the Feast of Epiphany (appearance or manifestation) comes 12 days after Christmas and closes the Christmas season with a...

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Wed, Jan 18, 2023

An international Christian ecumenical observance kept annually between January 18 - 25. It is actually an octave, that is, an observance lasting eight days. See:...

Theophany (E - Old / Julian Calendar)

Thu, Jan 19, 2023

Those Orthodox churches which follow the Old (Julian) Calendar, according to which Christmas falls on January 7, celebrate the Feast of Theophany on January 19. It commemorates the appearance of...

Vasanta Panchami

Thu, Jan 26, 2023

A North Indian celebration, Vasanta Panchami is associated with Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning and with Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth.

Imbolc

Thu, Feb 2, 2023

Also called Imbolg, Candlemas, Brigantia, The Feast of the Waxing Light, and Oimelc. Imbolc celebrates the increasing strength of the God, given as the first and greatest gift of the Goddess. Many...

Eve of Tu B'Shevat

Sun, Feb 5, 2023

Observance begins at sundown. One of four New Year's days, Tu B'Shevat (the 15th day of the month of Shevat) is the New Year's Day for Trees, and traditionally the first of the year for tithing...

Tu B'Shevat

Mon, Feb 6, 2023

One of four New Year's days, Tu B'Shevat (the 15th day of the month of Shevat) is the New Year's Day for Trees, and traditionally the first of the year for tithing fruit of trees. Nowadays, it is a...

Nehan-e (Nirvana Day)

Wed, Feb 15, 2023

Memorial of the historical Buddha passing away. (Mahayana) Japan, North America

Mahashivaratri

Sat, Feb 18, 2023

Dedicated to Shiva, one of the major deities to whom Hindus direct their devotion. The night before the feast, Hindus recite texts, sing, and tell stories in honour of this God whose dynamic cosmic...

Losar - Tibetan New Year

Tue, Feb 21, 2023

Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days.

Shrove Tuesday (W)

Tue, Feb 21, 2023

Shrove Tuesday occurs the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Roman Catholic Church. ÒShroveÒ is the past tense of the word Òshrive,Ò which means to hear a confession, assign...

Ash Wednesday (W)

Wed, Feb 22, 2023

The beginning of Lent, the forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Wed, Feb 22, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Thu, Feb 23, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Fri, Feb 24, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Sat, Feb 25, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Sun, Feb 26, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Great Fast begins (E)

Mon, Feb 27, 2023

First day of The Great Fast (or the Great Lent), the 40 day period prior to the beginning of Holy Week, ending with Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday (Eastern Churches).

Lent

Mon, Feb 27, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Tue, Feb 28, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Wed, Mar 1, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Thu, Mar 2, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Fri, Mar 3, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

World Day of Prayer

Fri, Mar 3, 2023

A world-wide annual day of prayer hosted by women from Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic traditions. Celebrated annually in over 170 countries on the first Friday in March. Every year,...

Lent

Sat, Mar 4, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Sun, Mar 5, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Eve of Purim

Mon, Mar 6, 2023

(Feast of Lots) Observance begins at sundown. Celebrates the rescue of the Jews of ancient Persia from a plot to destroy them as related in the Book of Esther, which is read at this time. Purim is...

Lent

Mon, Mar 6, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Holi

Tue, Mar 7, 2023

A religious spring festival celebrated by people throwing colourful powder and coloured water at each other. Holi is dedicated to Krishna or Kama.

Lent

Tue, Mar 7, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Purim

Tue, Mar 7, 2023

(Feast of Lots) Celebrates the rescue of the Jews of ancient Persia from a plot to destroy them as related in the Book of Esther, which is read at this time. Purim is a joyous holiday, celebrated...

Lent

Wed, Mar 8, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Thu, Mar 9, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Fri, Mar 10, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Sat, Mar 11, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Sun, Mar 12, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Mon, Mar 13, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Tue, Mar 14, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Wed, Mar 15, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Ghambar Hamaspath-maedem begins

Thu, Mar 16, 2023

Occurs on the intercalary days (March 16 - 20) and celebrates the creation of human beings and commemorates passed souls.

Lent

Thu, Mar 16, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Fri, Mar 17, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Sat, Mar 18, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Lent

Sun, Mar 19, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Ghambar Hamaspath-maedem ends

Mon, Mar 20, 2023

Occurs on the intercalary days (March 16 - 20) and celebrates the creation of human beings and commemorates passed souls.

Lent

Mon, Mar 20, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Ostara

Mon, Mar 20, 2023

Celebrates the return of the Goddess-as-Maiden, the courting of the Goddess by the God, and the reawakening of the seeds within the earth.

Lent

Tue, Mar 21, 2023

The forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter. (Western Churches).

Naw-Rúz

Tue, Mar 21, 2023

Bahá’í New Year. Bahá’ís feast and celebrate during the evening. The first month of the Bahá’í year is Bahá’ (Splendour).