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.

Upcoming Observances

Star of David

(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...

Star of David

(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...

Star of David

(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...

Star of David

(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...

Star of David

(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...

Mount Holyoke Sign for Generic Use

Celebrated in Christian congregations around the world, annually, on the first Sunday in October when they can experience Holy Communion as a global faith...

Star of David

Observance begins at sundown.

Star of David

(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...

Star of David

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...

Star of David

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...

Star of David

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.

Zarathushti symbol

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.

Zarathushti symbol

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.

Hindu Om

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

Bahá’í star

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.

Mount Holyoke Sign for Generic Use

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

Instalation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

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.

Hindu Om

(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...

Hindu Om

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

Pagan/Wiccan Pentacle

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...

Christian Cross

A day to honour Christian saints throughout the ages.

Hindu Om

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

Mahavira Nirvana

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

Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

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...

Bahá’í star

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

Bahá’í star

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...

Christian Cross

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...

Birth date of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

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...

Buddhist Dharma Wheel

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

Christian Cross

A Roman Catholic feast day that celebrates the belief that Mary, mother of Jesus, was born without sin.

Star of David

Observance begins at sundown. The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following...

Star of David

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over...

Christian Cross

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...

Star of David

The Feast of Lights (Feast of Dedication) is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the Jews' victory over...

Pagan/Wiccan Pentacle

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,...

Christian Cross

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

Zarathushti symbol

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....

Zarathushti symbol

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

Zarathushti symbol

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)

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...

Christian Cross

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

Christian Cross

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

Christian Cross

Christmas according to the Julian calendar.

Christian Cross

The New Year by the Julian calendar is observed on this day.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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

Christian Cross

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

Star of David

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...

Star of David

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...

Pagan/Wiccan Pentacle

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...

Buddhist Dharma Wheel

Tibetan year 2147. Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days.

Buddhist Dharma Wheel

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

Christian Cross

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...

Hindu Om

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

Christian Cross

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

Star of David

(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...

Star of David

(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....

Bahá’í star

The 12th Day of Riḍván concludes this important Bahá'í festival.

Mount Holyoke Sign for Generic Use

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...

Hindu Om

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...

Christian Cross

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...

Zarathushti symbol

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

Zarathushti symbol

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

Pagan/Wiccan Pentacle

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.

Zarathushti symbol

Now Ruz (New Day) is New Year's day for 1389 AY or 3758 AZ in the Fasli (seasonal) calendar. It celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire...

Zarathushti symbol

The birth anniversary of the Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), who was born at the beginning of the first millennium BCE. It is one of the most important...

Star of David

Observance begins at sundown. Commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated for eight days with special prayers and...

Star of David

Commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated for eight days with special prayers and symbolic foods at home,...

Hindu Om

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

Christian Cross

Holy Week begins in the Western Churches on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter.

Christian Cross

Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. (Western Calendar)

Christian Cross

Celebrates the institution of the Lord's Supper by Jesus.

Christian Cross

Commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e., his submission to death by crucifixion. Accommodation Possible for special worship may be required for this...

Christian Cross

The final day of Lent, of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum Ñ Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is a day of vigil in preparation for Easter....

Star of David

Commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated for eight days with special prayers and symbolic foods at home,...

Christian Cross

Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. It initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost.

Star of David

Commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated for eight days with special prayers and symbolic foods at home,...

Star of David

(Holocaust Remembrance Day) Observance begins at sundown. Memorializes the six milliion Jews who died as victims of the Nazis during World War II and...

Star of David

(Holocaust Remembrance Day) Memorializes the six milliion Jews who died as victims of the Nazis during World War II and emphasizes respect for human dignity....

Islamic Mosaic

Ramaḍān is the month of fasting (ending with Eid Al Fitr) during which physically able Muslims do not eat or drink from the first sign of dawn until sunset....

Mount Holyoke Sign for Generic Use

Observed over two days, the Saka calendar's New Year's Day is a religious and cultural celebration for Sinhalese, Indians, Burmese, Kampucheans, Laotians and...

Vaisakhi

Vaisakhi 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...

Hindu Om

The first day of the solar year, Vaisakhi celebrates the harvest. It is especially important in North India. Vaisakhi, as a Hindu festival, is celebrated in...

Bahá’í star

The Festival of Riḍván, termed by Bahá’u’lláh the “Most Great Festival” and the “King of Festivals”, commemorates the 12 days that Bahá’u’lláh spent in the...

Hindu Om

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...

Christian Cross

(Eastern Calendar) Commemorates the raising of Lazarus from the dead by Jesus (John 11:1-45). It is a day of both death and life, marking the final great...

Mahavira Jayanti

Celebrates the birthday of Lord Mahavira (Great Hero), the 24th Tirthankara (and the last of this time cycle).

Christian Cross

(Eastern Calendar) Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

Christian Cross

Holy Week begins in the Eastern Churches the day after Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Friday.

Bahá’í star

The 9th Day of Riḍván is when Bahá’u’lláh’s family joined Him at the garden of Riḍván in Baghdad.

Christian Cross

Celebrates the institution of the Lord's Supper by Jesus.

Zarathushti symbol

Ghambar Maidyozarem (April 30 - May 4) celebrates the creation of sky and the harvesting of the winter crop.

Christian Cross

Commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e., his submission to death by crucifixion. Accommodation Possible for special worship may be required for this...

Pagan/Wiccan Pentacle

Also called Beltain, May Eve [April 30] and May Day, Beltane celebrates the conjoining of the infinite potential of the Goddess with the life-sparking energy...

Christian Cross

The final day of Lent, of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum Ñ Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is a day of vigil in preparation for Easter....

Christian Cross

(Orthodox Easter) Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. It initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost.

Islamic Mosaic

Also known as the, Night of Power, Laylat al-Qadr commemorates the first revelation of the Qur'an (Islamic scriptures) to Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE....

Christian Cross

The anniversary of Jesus's ascension into heaven and enthronement as universal sovereign. It comes forty days after Easter.

Islamic Mosaic

Literally the Festival of Breaking the Fast, 'Īd al-Fiṭr is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations (the other occurs after the Hajj, or...

Sikh New Year's Day

Beginning of the year 552 of the Nanakshahi era.

Star of David

(Feast of Weeks) Shavuot marks the conclusion of the seven weeks following Passover. It is a celebration of the harvest of first fruits and commemorates the...