The Office for Religious Life at Stanford University

The Office for Religious Life > Religious Holidays


Major Holy Days 2010-2011

Stanford has long supported faculty, students and staff in observing religious holiday of significance to them. In the complex process of creating the academic calendar, religious holy days are but one of many considerations. The university administration has always been helpful in facilitating communication and encouraging respect and understanding when there are academic calendar conflicts with religious holy days. Most instructors will be cooperative and flexible regarding students' religious observance when they receive appropriate and early communication. If a student is planning NOT to attend class or take an exam because of a religious holiday, he or she should convey this information to instructors in advance so that the student will not be disadvantaged as a result of religious practice. The Office for Religious Life makes available to faculty, staff and students this list of significant religious holidays at the beginning of each academic year. For any questions or concerns, please contact the Dean Scotty McLennan, Senior Associate Dean Patricia Karlin-Neumann or Associate Dean Joanne Sanders.

September 2010

Krishna Janmashtami - Hindu
September 2, 2010
Also known as Janmashtami, marks the birth of Krishna, sent to vanquish evil in the world. It is a two-day celebration that includes much singing and dancing.

Laylat al Kadr - Islam
September 2, 2010
Commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Muhammed. The night is spent in worship.

Nativity of Mary - Christian
September 8, 2010
A celebration of the birth of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Rosh Hashanah - Jewish
September 9, 2010 - September 10, 2010
Rosh Hashanah is the name given to the new year in the Jewish calendar, marking the beginning of the High Holy Days of the year 5770. Sweet foods are served, symbolizing the hope for a sweet year ahead. Some Jews observe one day away from work, others two. The holiday begins the evening of the night before.

Eid al-Fitr - Islam
September 10, 2010
Also known as Seker Bayram or Ramazan Bayram, marks the end of Ramadan.

Ganesh Chaturthi - Hindu
September 11, 2010
Marks the birth of Ganesh, Lord of power and wisdom.

Paryushana - Jain
September 12, 2010
A ten-day observance of fasting and prayer, draws attention to the holy texts describing the ten characteristics of holiness to which Jain devotees aspire. On the tenth day, Jains ask forgiveness for any wrongs committed. This is the most important festival of the year for Jains.

Holy Cross Day - Christian
September 14, 2010
This day recalls the dedication, in the days of Constantine, of the shrine built over the site where the crucifixion of Jesus was believed to have taken place. It is observed in the liturgical churches as a day of veneration of the cross.
Yom Kippur - Jewish
September 18, 2010
The Jewish day of atonement, a solemn day dedicated to fasting and prayer.
Sukkot - Jewish
September 23, 2010 - September 29, 2010
Sukkot is the week-long Jewish Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, during which meals are eaten out of doors in a sukkah (tent), in remembrance of the years spent by the people of Israel in the wilderness. The first two and last two days are times to refrain from work.

Mabon - Pagan/Wiccan
September 23, 2010
The celebration of the harvest at the time of the autumn equinox, the moment when night and day are equal in length.

Confucius' Birthday - Taoist
September 28, 2010
K'ung Fo-tzu (551-479 BCE), known in the West by his Latin name, Confucius, is China's most famous philosopher.
Michael and All Angels - Christian
September 29, 2010
Commonly known as Michaelmas, is a celebration of all those understood to be messengers of God, visible and invisible.

Shimini Atzeret - Jewish
September 30, 2010
The eighth and last day of Sukkot.

October 2010

Simchat Torah - Jewish
October 1, 2010
The day of rejoicing in the Law. Along with Shemini Atzeret, these two observances conclude the feast of Sukkot, and mark the ending of the year's cycle of readings from the Torah and the beginning of the new cycle.

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi - Catholic Christian
October 4, 2010
St. Francis of Assisi is honored for his connection to nature, and his feast day is often celebrated as a time of giving thanks for animals.

Navaratri Dashara - Hindu
October 8, 2010 - October 16, 2010
The nine-night festival of the Goddess in the form of universal mother, honoring Durga, wife of Shiva, and seeking her blessings. It incorportes Saraswati Puja, dedicated to the goddess of learning. It closes with Vijaya Dasami, a special puja (offering or act of worship), celebrating the victory of good over evil.

Dasera - Hindu
October 17, 2010
A holiday marking the end of Navaratri, the nine day celebration in honor of the Goddess, Durga.

Birth of the Bab - Baha'i
October 20, 2010
Commemorates the birth of the forerunner to the prophet and founder of the Baha'i faith.

All Hallows Eve - Christian
October 31, 2010
A tradition passed on from the Pagan/Wiccan observance of Samhain (Beltane), the mid-point between the autumn equipnox and the winter solstice, the moment of descent into the depths of winter.

November 2010

Mabon - Pagan/Wiccan
All Saints' Day - Christian

November 1, 2010
All Saints Day is observed by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and some Protestants, and celebrates the lives of the saints (individuals honored for their holiness).

Samhain - Pagan/Wiccan
November 1, 2010
The observance of the mid-point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, the moment of descent into the depths of winter. It is the time when souls who have died are bid farewell, and when the veil between physical and spiritual worlds is at its thinnest. It passed into Christian tradition as All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

All Souls' Day - Catholic Christian
November 2, 2010
Marked in Mexico as the Dia de los Muertos, is a day of remembering and interceding for those who have died.

Diwali - Hindu - Jain - Sikh
November 5, 2010
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, marking the end of the Hindu year. It is the first of five days of celebration, known as Deepavali. It is marked by fireworks and festivity.

Birth of Baha-u-llah - Baha'i
November 12, 2010
Marks the birth of the founder of the Baha'i faith.

Hajj - Islam
November 15, 2010
The annual pilgrimage to Mecca is considered to be one of the five pillars of Islam. Millions of Muslim pilgrims make the journey each year, making it the largest pilgrimage in the world.

Eid al-Adha - Islam
November 16, 2010
The three day Eid al-Adha commemorates Abraham and his offering of his son, Ishmael in obedience to Allah. It is observed as a time of the distribution of meat to the poor.
Guru Nanak birthday - Sikh
November 21, 2010
Birth of Guru Nanak Dev Sahib
Thanksgiving - Interfaith - USA
November 25, 2010
A day to be with family and give thanks.
Day of Covenant - Baha'i
November 26, 2010
The day when Baha'is celebrate 'Abdu'l-Baha as the exemplar of Baha'u'llah's Covenant.

First Sunday of Advent - Christian
November 28, 2010
The season of preparation for the coming of Christ, also the beginning of the Christian liturgical year. Advent candles are lit in progression each week until the celebration of Christmas begins.

December 2010

Hanukkah - Jewish December 1, 2010 - December 9, 2010
Also know as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah lasts for eight days, and commemorates the victory of Judah the Maccabee, and the rededication of the Temple in 165 B.C.E. Jews light successive candles on the menorah on each of the eight days.
St. Nicholas Day - Christian
December 6, 2010
A children's festival celebrated throughout Europe, commemorating the life of St. Nicholas, particularly his reputation as a bringer of gifts.
Al-Hijra - Islam
December 7, 2010
The Muslim new year, timed to mark the arrival of Muhammed and his first followers in Medina in 622 C.E.
Bodhi Day - Buddhist
December 8, 2010
The celebration of the day when Prince Gautama vowed to remain under the bodhi tree until he attained enlightenment.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception - Christian
December 8, 2010
Celebrates the conception of Mary, mother of Jesus.
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe - Catholic Christian
December 12, 2010
Celebrates Mary as the patron saint of Mexico, honoring her appearance near Mexico City in 1531, C.E.

Ashura - Islam
December 16, 2010
Remembers tests endured by prophets and righteous leaders, including Noah and Moses; and the martrydom of Imam Hussein, grandson of Muhammed.

Zarathosht Diso - Zoroastrian
December 21, 2010
Marks the death of the propet Zarathustra.
Winter Solstice (Yule) - Pagan/Wiccan
December 21, 2010
The shortest day and the longest night of the year is a time for Pagans and Wiccans to celebrate the return of the light in the depth of mid-winter.

Christmas Eve - Western Christian
December 24, 2010
The eve of Christmas day.

Christmas Day - Western Christian
December 25, 2010
Observed on December 25 in the West, on January 6 by Armentian Christians, and on January 25 by Orthodox Christians, it is the celebration of the birth of Christ. The feast of Christmas lasts for twelve days, frm the eve of Christmas Day to the eve of the Epiphany.

January 2011

Gantan-sai (New Year) - Shinto
January 1, 2011
A new year's festival observed with prayers for inner renewal.

Twelfth Night - Christian
January 5, 2011
Also called Epiphany Eve, celebrates the coming of the Epiphany, which marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas.

Birth of Guru Gobind Singh Ji - Sikh
January 5, 2011
Marks the birth in 1666 C.E. of the Tenth Guru (the final master) of the Sikh faith.

Nativity of Christ - Orthodox Christian
January 7, 2011
Eastern Orthodox celebration of Christmas

Maghi - Sikh
January 13, 2011
Marks the remembrance of the battle in which 40 Sikhs died for Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
World Religions Day - Baha'i
January 16, 2011
A day to call attention to the harmony of the various religions' spiritual principles and to emphasize that religion is the motivating force for world unity.

Mahayana (New Year) - Buddhist
January 19, 2011 - January 21, 2011
New Year's celebration for Mahayana Buddhists from around the world
Tu B'Shevat - Jewish
January 20, 2011
A celebration of the coming of spring; a day of environmental awareness, often marked by the planting of trees.

February 2011

Candlemas - Christian
February 2, 2011
The feast of the presentation of Christ to the aged Simeon, who proclaimed him a light to the world. This day is celebrated by Eastern Orthodox Christians as the Meeting of Our Lord in the Temple.

Setsubun Sai - Shinto
February 3, 2011
A Japanese festival of good luck celebrated with a bean throwing ceremony
Chinese New Year - Taoist/Buddhist/Confucian
February 3, 2011
Observed as a festival day by Buddhists, Taoists, and all religions of China.
Saint Valentine's Day - Christian
February 14, 2011
A celebration of the love of God presented in Jesus and in the lives of Christian believers. St. Valentine was a 3rd centry martyr. This day is widely observed in the USA as a secular celebration of love.

Nirvana Day - Buddhist
February 15, 2011
Marks the anniversary of the death of the Buddha.
Mawlid an Nabi - Islam
February 15, 2011
Commemorates the birth of the Prophet Muhammed in about 570 C.E.
Beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Christian
February 18, 2011 - February 25, 2011
A week when Christians pray that past divisions and shisms be healed and forgiven.

March 2011

Maha Shivaratri - Hindu
March 3, 2011
The festival of Shiva, celebrated as the one whose cosmic dance creates and re-creates the universe.

Mardi Gras - Christian
March 8, 2011
Also known as Shrove Tuesday, preparation for the beginning of Lent, marked in some places by feasting and carnival activities.
Saint Patrick's Day - Christian
March 17, 2011
Celebration of Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the early days of the faith.

Spring Equinox (Ostara) - Pagan/Wiccan
March 20, 2011
The festival of the spring equinox, the return of light and celebration of the reawakening of seeds in the belly of the earth.
Holi - Hindu
March 20, 2011
A spring festival celebrating color and joy.

Naw Ruz (Persian New Year)
March 21, 2011 The Persian new year, celebrated as a festival by people of all faiths of Iranian origin.

Khordad Sal - Zoroastrian
March 28, 2011
The birthday of the prophet Zarathustra.

April 2011

Ramanavami - Hindu
April 12, 2011
The last day of a week of celebration marking the birth of Rama, hero of the epic poem, Ramayana.

Baisakhi - Sikh
April 14, 2011
The harvest festival of North India, the beginning of the solar year. For Sikhs, it represents the founding of the Khalsa, a Sikh brotherhood.

Palm Sunday - Christian
April 17, 2011
Also known as Passion Sunday, marks the beginning of the Christian Holy Week, leading to Easter. On this day, Jesus entered Jerusalem and was acclaimed as a king.
Mahavir Jayanti - Jain
April 17, 2011
Marks the birth of Mahavira, founder of the Jain religion, in 540 B.C.E.
Hanuman Jayanti - Hindu
April 17, 2011
A celebration commemorating the birth of Hanuman who is revered by Hindus for his strength and devotion.

Passover - Jewish
April 19, 2011 - April 26, 2011
Also known as Pesach, is the eight-day feast commemorating the exodus of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The first two and last two days of the fesitval are observed as holidays from work.

First day of Rivdan - Baha'i
April 21, 2011
A twelve-day festival commemorating the declaration of Baha'u'llah in 1863 C.E. that he was God's messenger. Work ceases on the first, ninth, and twelfth days.

Holy Thursday - Christian
April 21, 2011
Also known as Maundy Thursday, marks Christ's Last Supper, upon which the Eucharist (mass, communion), is based.

Good Friday - Christian
April 22, 2011
Good (Holy) Friday is the day on which the death of Christ is remembered.

Holy Saturday - Christian
April 23, 2011
A day of vigil culminating in the feast of the resurrection.

Easter Sunday - Christian
April 24, 2011
The feast of the resurrection of Christ, the most important feast of the church. Christians commonly gather to elebrate at sunrise. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is always timed to follow Passover.

Ninth day of Rivdan - Baha'i
April 29, 2011
See April 21st.

May 2011

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) - Jewish
May 1, 2011
The day has been established to remember the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in 1933-45 It is observed by many non-Jews as well.

Beltane - Pagan/Wiccan
May 1, 2011
The mid-point between the spring equinox and summer solstice, a celebraton of the earth's fertility.

Twelfth day of Rivdan - Baha'i
May 2, 2011
See April 21st.

National Day of Prayer - Interfaith USA
May 5, 2011

Visakha Puja - Buddhist
May 17, 2011
Also known as Wesak, marks the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. It is the most important day of the calendar for Buddhists.

Declaration of the Bab - Baha'i
May 23, 2011
Commemorates the declaration in 1844 by Ali Muhammed, forerunner to the founder of the Baha'i faith, that he was the anticipated "coming one".

Ascension of Baha'u'llah - Baha'i
May 29, 2011
The commemoration of the Ascention of Baha'u'llah marks the ascension into heaven of the founder of the Baha'i faith.

June 2011

Ascension of Christ - Christian
June 2, 2011
The feast of the Ascension of Christ marks the raising of Christ to heaven on the 40th day after Easter.

Shavuot begins at sundown - Jewish
June 8, 2011 - June 9, 2011
The giving of the Torah (law) to the Jewish people is commemorted.
Pentecost - Christian
June 12, 2011
Observation of the day when God and the Holy Spirit came to the disciples in the forms of tongues of fire and rushing wind. It is a traditional day for baptism and confirmation of new Christians.

Summer Solstice (Litha) - Pagan/Wiccan
June 21, 2011
Celebration of the sacred marriage in which energy of the gods is poured into the service of life.

Corpus Christi - Catholic Christian
June 23, 2011
A celebration in recognition of the Eucharist - the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The real presence of the body and blood of Jesus is honored.

July 2011

Martyrdom of the Bab - Baha'i
July 9, 2011
Ali Mohammed was executed in 1850 by Persian political and religious powers. Observed by abstaining from commerce and work.

Ulambana (Obon) - Japanese Buddhist
July 13, 2011 - July 16, 2011
A celebration of the ritual of saving the deceased from tormets after deth.

Haile Selassi I birthday - Rastafari
July 23, 2011
Celebration honoring the late Emperor of Ethiopia

Pioneer Day - Mormon Christian
July 24, 2011
Observation of the arrival of the first settlers at the Great Salt Lake, USA, on July 24, 1847.