Davidson encourages students, faculty and staff to be aware and respectful of the diverse religious observances of college community members.

The calendar below is not a comprehensive list of holy days, but it includes dates of particular significance to traditions represented on campus. A description of each holy day may be found below the calendar. Suggestions for additions to this list may be directed to Chaplain Rob Spach.

Holy days may fall on different dates from year to year because many are calculated based on a lunar calendar. Dates of holy day observances may also vary regionally.

*Jewish and Muslim holy days begin at sundown on the first day indicated.
**Holy days on which absence from work or school is common. 

2020-2021

Date Holy Day Tradition
August 28* - 29 **Ashura Muslim
September 18* – 20 **Rosh HaShanah Jewish
September 27* – 28 **Yom Kippur Jewish
October 2* – 9 Sukkot Jewish
October 17 – 26 Navratri Hindu
Various dates in October Kathin Theravada Buddhist
November 14 – 18 Diwali begins (5 days) Hindu/Jain
December 10* – 18 Hanukkah Jewish
December 25 **Christmas Christian
January 7 **Feast of the Nativity Orthodox Christian
Various dates in Spring Buddhist New Year Buddhist
February 12 Lunar New Year Many traditions in most Asian nations
February 17 Ash Wednesday Catholic/Protestant Christian
March 21 Nowruz (New Year) Zoroastrian/Persian
March 27* – April 3 **Pesach/Passover Jewish
March 29 Holi Hindu
Various dates in April Water Festival Many traditions in most Asian nations
April 2 **Good Friday Catholic/Protestant Christian
April 4 **Easter Catholic/Protestant Christian
April 7* – 8 Yom HaShoah Jewish
April 12* – May 12 Ramadan Muslim
April 30 **Holy Friday Orthodox Christian
May 2 **Pascha Orthodox Christian
May 12* – 15 **Eid al-Fitr Muslim
May 16* – 18 Shavuot Jewish
May 26 Vesak (Buddha Day) Buddhist

Upcoming Years

2021-2022

Date Holy Day Tradition
August 18* – 19 **Ashura Muslim
September 6* – 8 **Rosh HaShanah Jewish
September 15*-16 **Yom Kippur Jewish
September 20*-27 Sukkot Jewish
October 6 - 14 Navratri Hindu
Various dates in October Kathin Theravada Buddhist
November 4-8 Diwali begins (5 days) Hindu/Jain
November 28*-December 6 Hanukkah Jewish
December 25 **Christmas Christian
January 7 **Feast of the Nativity Orthodox Christian
Various dates in Spring Buddhist New Year Buddhist
February 1 Lunar New Year Many traditions in most Asian nations
March 2 Ash Wednesday Catholic/Protestant Christian
March 18 Holi Hindu
March 21 Nowruz (New Year) Zoroastrian/Persian
April 2*-May 1 Ramadan Muslim
Various dates in April Water Festival Many traditions in most Asian nations
April 15*-23 **Pesach/Passover Jewish
April 15 **Good Friday Catholic/Protestant Christian
April 17 **Easter Catholic/Protestant Christian
April 22 **Holy Friday Orthodox Christian
April 24 **Pascha Orthodox Christian
April 27*-28 Yom HaShoah Jewish
May 2* – 3 **Eid al-Fitr Muslim
May 16 Vesak (Buddha Day) Buddhist

2022-2023

Date Holy Day Tradition
August 7* – 8 **Ashura Muslim
September 25* – 27 **Rosh Hashanah Jewish
September 26 – October 4 Navratri Hindu
Various dates in October Kathin Theravada Buddhist
October 4* – 5 **Yom Kippur Jewish
October 9* – 16 Sukkot Jewish
October 24 Diwali begins (5 days) Hindu/Jain
November 1 All Saints’ Day Western Christian
December 18* – 26 Hanukkah Jewish
December 25 **Christmas Christian
January 7 **Feast of the Nativity Orthodox Christian
January 22 Lunar New Year Many traditions in most Asian nations
Various dates in Spring Buddhist New Year Buddhist
February 22 Ash Wednesday Catholic/Protestant Christian
March 7 Holi Hindu
March 21 Nowruz (New Year) Zoroastrian/Persian
March 22* – April 21 Ramadan Muslim
Various dates in April Water Festival Many traditions in most Asian nations
April 5* – 12 **Pesach/Passover Jewish
April 7 **Good Friday Catholic/Protestant Christian
April 9 **Easter Catholic/Protestant Christian
April 14 **Holy Friday Orthodox Christian
April 16 **Pascha Orthodox Christian
April 17* – 18 Yom HaShoah Jewish
April 21* – 22 **Eid al-Fitr Muslim
May 5 Vesak (Buddha Day) Buddhist
May 25* – 26 Shavuot Jewish

Holy Day Traditions

Asian Traditions

Lunar New Year – One of the most important festivals celebrated in Asian cultures. In the West, Lunar New Year is often referred to as Chinese New Year. Activities include making offerings to household deities, hosting banquets for family and friends, and festive parades.

Water Festival – The New Year’s celebration in several Southeast Asian countries. In some regions, dragon boat races are held and lanterns floated on rivers to bring blessings. People splash water at one another in a boisterous cleansing ritual of good will.

Buddhist Traditions

Kathin – There are several South and Southeast Asian (Theravada) Buddhist holidays that occur at the end of the annual three-month rainy season monastic retreat, after which the monastics are considered to be especially spiritually venerable. The primary holiday, called Kathin, is celebrated by the laity giving the monks new robes (“kathina”) and other practical supplies for the temple. Individual temples can choose to celebrate Kathin any time within one month after the end of the rains retreat, which usually concludes in early October.

Buddhist New Year – Buddhists celebrate the new year on various full moon days early in the Western calendar year: late January or early February in China, Korea, and Vietnam, a month later in Tibet, and April in Southeast Asia. Practices to mark the Buddhist New Year vary with geographical and cultural location, but often include families visiting temples together, conducting ceremonies at home, visiting friends and relatives, and exchanging presents.

Vesak (Buddha Day) – Celebrated every year on the full moon in May, this is the most significant Buddhist holiday. Buddhists all over the world celebrate this day of the year on which (in different years) the Buddha was born, attained full awakening (enlightenment), and died over 2,500 years ago. Activities vary across Buddhist groups, but often include laypeople visiting a temple or monastery where they offer food to the monastics and to the poor, meditate, listen to the chanting of scriptures, and honor the Buddha with gifts of flowers and incense and food presented before images of the Buddha.

 

Christian Traditions

Christmas – A holy day celebrating of the birth of Jesus. Orthodox Christians often refer to it as the Feast of the Nativity and the Incarnation of Christ. Absence from work or school is common.

Ash Wednesday – Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day liturgical season in which many Catholic and Protestant Christians prepare through fasting, prayer, and penance for renewing baptismal promises at Easter.

Good/Holy Friday – A solemn holy day commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Many Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians observe it as a fast day. Christians of many denominations attend worship services. Absence from work or school is common.

Easter/Pascha – A day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Absence from work or school is common.

Hindu Traditions

Navratri – Navratri (“nine nights” in Sanskrit) is an autumn festival that takes many forms across India, most serving as reminders of the greatness of the divine feminine that rescues humanity from ignorance and evil. In Northern India, young girls considered manifestations of divine creative power are honored with gifts. Western Indian celebrations include a festive dance called Garba. In Eastern India, devotees worship the nine avatars of the goddess Durga who defeats a demon king. In South India, celebrants create elaborate displays of dolls and figurines known as Golu.

Diwali – A fall festival of lights signifying the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Rituals of lighting candles and other forms of light extend over a five day period, with the primary celebrations on the first night.

Holi – A spring festival of colors celebrating life and signifying the victory of good over evil. Participants frolic in parks or other open areas, chasing and covering each other with dry colored powder and water.

Jewish Traditions

Rosh HaShanah – The Jewish New Year, which marks the beginning of a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination, and repentance known as the High Holy Days. Many Jews observe it with prayer and reflection in a synagogue. Absence from work or school is common on the first day of Rosh HaShanah.

Yom Kippur – The holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement" and refers to the annual observance of fasting, prayer, and repentance. Absence from work or school is common.

Sukkot – Sukkot, meaning "booths" or "huts," is the seven-day festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest.

Hanukkah – Hanukkah (alternately spelled Chanukah) is the eight-day celebration commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian army in 165 B.C.E. Hanukkah is a minor holiday in terms of religious practice, but it is a special and joyous time of year.

Pesach/Passover – A major Jewish festival lasting seven days, Pesach (Passover in English) commemorates the Exodus of Jews from slavery in Egypt. The ritual observance of this holiday centers upon a home service called the seder (meaning "order") and a festive meal. Jews often attend ritual observances on the first, second, and final evenings.

Yom HaShoah – This solemn day serves as a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust. Shoah, which means catastrophe or utter destruction in Hebrew, refers to the atrocities committed against the Jewish people during World War II. It is also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Shavuot – This festival marks the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is a celebration of Torah, education, and actively choosing to participate in Jewish life.

Muslim Traditions

Ramadan – The ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar, which adult Muslims observe by fasting every day, abstaining from all food, drink, and sex from before dawn to sunset.

Eid al-Fitr – This day marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the first day of the month of Shawwal. The day begins with a special Eid prayer and involves day-long festivities. Celebrations may last up to three days. Absence from work or school is common.

Eid al-Adha – This day commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God. Muslims celebrate with the customary sacrifice of animals, sharing of the sacrificed animals’ meat with family and the poor, a special Eid prayer, and social gatherings. Celebrations may last up to three days. Absence from work or school is common.

Ashura – Shi’a Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the third Shi’ite Imam and grandson of Muhammad, observing the day by mourning his death. Sunni Muslims commemorate God’s freeing of the Israelites from slavery to the Pharaoh of Egypt by observing a fast. Absence from work or school is common.

Zoroastrian/Persian Traditions

Nowruz – Known as the Solar (Persian) New Year, Nowruz falls on the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. The celebration of this holiday originated during the era of the religious reformer Zoroaster. For those who observe Nowruz today (including Baha'is, Muslims, and Zoroastrians, among others), the day is holy for it marks their spiritual New Year, a time of inner renewal. In the days leading up to Nowruz, families meticulously clean their homes, and they set up a haft-seen table with seven items that start with the letter ‘s’, each of which symbolizes an ancient Persian holy spirit. For people of many backgrounds throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, Nowruz is a cultural holiday to celebrate the renewal of life.