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2020 religious festivals

Below you will find a list of religious festivals during each month (and a short description).

This information has been compiled by the Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education, and is used with permission. Religious festival calendars are available to purchase in a range of formats from the Shap website. Permission to reproduce the information below should be sought from Shap. The Shap calendar of religious festivals was the first calendar of its kind, and is produced in consultation with religious organisations each year.

Note: Jewish festivals commence at sunset on the evening of the day prior to the date shown. Some Muslim, and certain Pagan and Druid festivals also commence in the evening. 

IFN has also produced a short guidance note on which of their religious festivals faith communities would appreciate receiving greetings from people of other faiths and beliefs, and suggested forms of greeting. This can be found here.

  • January 2020

    1 January (Wednesday) NEW YEAR’S DAY/HOGMANAY National

    A day widely observed, as is New Year’s Eve the preceding night, throughout the UK, and more especially in Scotland, where bagpipes, haggis and first footing are widespread.


    1 January (Wednesday) THE CIRCUMCISION OR NAMING OF JESUS Christian

    Celebrates the circumcision and naming of Jesus in accordance with Jewish custom.


    1 January (Wednesday) to 3 January (Friday) GANJITSU Japanese

    Three day New Year’s celebrations during which businesses are closed, families spend time together, decorations are put up and the first visit of the year is paid to Shinto shrines.


    2 January (Thursday) BIRTHDAY OF GURU GOBIND SINGH (1666 CE) (Bakrami Lunar Calendar) Sikh

    13 January (Monday) BIRTHDAY OF GURU GOBIND SINGH (1666 CE) (Nanakshahi Calendar) Sikh

    Birth Anniversary of the tenth Guru, who instituted the practice of the Five Ks and established the Order of the Khalsa on Vaisakhi (Baisakhi).   An akhand path, an unbroken reading of the whole of the Guru Granth Sahib, spreads over a 48 hour period.


    5 January (Sunday) or 12 January (Sunday) ANNUAL METHODIST COVENANT SERVICE Christian

    On the first (or sometimes the second) Sunday of the new year Methodists celebrate an annual Covenant Service in which they pledge themselves to the service of God using a specific form of words.


    6 January (Monday) THEOPHANY / BAPTISM OF CHRIST Christian (Orthodox)

    Orthodox Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. ‘Theophany’ means ‘Manifestation of God’.  Jesus’ miracle at Cana in Galilee is also remembered


    6 January (Monday) EPIPHANY Christian (Anglican and Roman Catholic)

    Celebrates the visit of the magi/wise men to the infant Jesus, bearing symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is the twelfth day of Christmas.


    6/7 January (Monday/Tuesday) CHRISTMAS EVE AND DAY Christian (Rastafarian)

    (Eastern Orthodox: Julian calendar); Rastafarian. Many Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas (and other fixed festivals) thirteen days after the Western churches.


    6/7 January (Monday/Tuesday) ETHIOPIAN CHRISTMAS DAY Christian

    To Rastafarians this is a time not only to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the manner prescribed by tradition, but also to reflect on this event in the context of the original prophecy of his birth, seen as a manifestation of God not only as Priest but as King


    12 January (Sunday) BIRTHDAY OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA Hindu

    Vivekananda, an Indian Hindu monk and a disciple of Ramakrishna, was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world.


    12 January (Sunday) BAPTISM OF CHRIST Christian (Anglican)

    Anglican Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist,


    12 January (Sunday) BAPTISM OF CHRIST Christian (Roman Catholic)

    Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist; they recall how at this event the heavens were opened and a voice was heard proclaiming Jesus, while God’s spirit descended on him in the form of a dove


    13/14 January (Monday/Tuesday) MAKAR SANKRANTI/LOHRI/PONGAL Hindu

    This is a day for almsgiving and patching up quarrels. It is celebrated with rice sugar, pancakes, halva or cornmeal chapattis, eaten around a fire


    16 January (Thursday) SHINRAN MEMORIAL DAY Buddhist

    Shinran was the founder of Jodo Shin-shu, one of the schools of Pure Land Buddhism.


    18-25 January (Saturday to Saturday) WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY Christian

    United services are held, and dialogue on unity is encouraged; some worshippers visit other people’s churches or invite preachers from denominations different from their own.


    19 January (Sunday) WORLD RELIGION DAY Baha'i and other groups

    This day promotes interfaith understanding by emphasizing factors common to all faiths. It was first introduced among Baha’i communities in the 1950s, and is now celebrated by a wider spread of communities, including the Baha’i, usually on the third Sunday of January.


    25 January (Saturday) NEW YEAR FESTIVAL/CHUNJIE/YUAN TAN Chinese

    Celebrations last for three or more days, and involve fireworks, dances (e.g. the famous Lion Dance) and gifts of paper money, flowers and sweets. Business accounts are settled and all debts paid before the New Year begins.

    2019 is the year of the Rat.


    25 January (Saturday) HONEN MEMORIAL DAY Buddhist

    Honen (1133-1212 CE) is one of the outstanding figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism, and was the founder of Jodo Shinshu, one of the schools of Pure Land Buddhism.


    25 January (Saturday) to 27 January (Monday) LOSAR Buddhist

    Tibetan New Year festival, but it is often celebrated in Nepal as well. Although largely a secular celebration, it also includes the rededication of the country to Buddhism. It especially celebrates the miracles performed by the historical Buddha at Sravasti, the capital city of the kingdom of Kosala.


    27 January (Monday) HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY National

    A day for remembrance of people who suffered, chiefly at the hands of the Nazis during the second World War but also in other persecutions. It aims to keep memory fresh and ensure that no such atrocity happens again.


    29 January (Wednesday) to 30 January (Thursday) SARASVATI PUJA/VASANT PANCHAMI Hindu

    Widely celebrated in North India, this festival marks the beginning of spring.  For Hindus it is usually linked with Saraswati, the goddess of learning and the arts.  Yellow is her associated colour.


    30 January (Thursday) JASHN-E SADEH Zoroastrian [Iranian]

    A mid winter bonfire festival to signify that days are getting longer. The litany to fire, the Atash Niyayeesh, is recited, and Iranian legends are told of King Hoshang (who discovered the art of making fire). Piping hot stew, dancing and merry making feature.

  • February 2020

    1 February (Saturday) IMBOLC/CANDLEMAS Pagan

    Imbolc/Candlemas celebrates the awakening of the land and the growing power of the Sun.  Snowdrops, which appear at this time of the year, are seen as the heralds of spring.



    Congregations hold lighted candles to recall the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and Mary’s following Jewish tradition after the birth of a son.  His recognition by the aged Simeon is expressed in the words of the Nunc Dimittis.


    3 February (Monday) SETSUBUN/BEAN SCATTERING Japanese

    The day for the Bean Scattering ceremony, performed both in homes and in temples.



    The Lantern Festival marks the first full moon of the year and the lengthening of the days. Strings of lanterns in various designs are hung up indoors and outside as decoration.


    8 February (Saturday) or 15 February (Saturday) PARINIRVANA Buddhist

    Mahayanists mark the final passing away from this world of Gautama Buddha at Kushinagara, India, at the age of 80. Pure Land Buddhists call this Nirvana Day.


    9 February (Sunday) MAGHA PUJA Buddhist

    1,250 enlightened disciples came to the Bamboo Grove on the full moon of Magha. The Buddha predicted his death and gave a summary of his teachings and a code of discipline which all monks are expected to recite every fortnight. The day is observed with meditation, chanting and listening to sermons.


    10 February (Monday) TU B'SHEVAT Jewish

    A popular minor festival which celebrates the New Year for trees. Jewish tradition marks the 15th of Shevat as the day when the sap in the trees begins to rise, heralding the beginning of spring. It is customary for Jews all over the world to plant young trees at this time and to eat fruit produced in Israel. 


    21 February (Friday) MAHASHIVRATRI [Great Shiva Night] Hindu

    This is the night on which Shiva is said to perform the cosmic dance, leading from creation to destruction. Many Hindus fast at this time. All-night prayers focus on Shiva and his shrines and statues. Milk is poured on his symbol, the lingam.


    25 February (Tuesday) SHROVE TUESDAY Christian (Western Churches)

    ‘Shrove’ relates to absolution from sin. Nowadays it is a day for eating and enjoyment.  In Britain it is called ‘Pancake Day’, as pancakes use up all the rich foods before Lent. Elsewhere it is known as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), and is a time for carnivals and fairs.


    26 February (Wednesday) ASH WEDNESDAY Christian (Western Churches)

    This first day of Lent recalls the temptations Jesus faced for forty days in the wilderness.   In Catholic and some Anglican churches, worshipper’s foreheads are marked with a cross of ash made from burning the palm crosses of the previous year – hence ‘Ash Wednesday’.


    26 February (Wednesday) - 11 April (Saturday) LENT Christian (Western Churches)

    A period of forty days fasting and self-discipline (not counting Sundays) that leads up to Easter. Traditionally Christians give up something during this time to mark the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. Many Christians feel it is a time for study groups, prayer and Bible reading.

  • March 2020

    1 March (Sunday) ST DAVID’S DAY Christian / National

    Anniversary of the death of St David, the 6th Century CE patron saint of Wales.


    2 March (Monday) FIRST DAY OF LENT / THE GREAT FAST Christian (Orthodox)

    This is the beginning of the Lenten Fast, which involves abstinence from meat, fish and dairy products until Easter. Unlike the Western tradition, where Lent begins on the Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent, Eastern Churches start Lent on the Monday before the first Sunday.


    3 March (Tuesday) HINAMATSURI / DOLLS’ FESTIVAL / GIRLS’ DAY Japanese

    Clay dolls representing the Emperor and Empress, are displayed in the home, and offerings of peach blossom, rice-wine and rice-cakes are placed before them. The dolls carry away any illness which is afflicting the daughters of the house, for whom prayers are offered.


    6 March (Friday) THE WOMEN’S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER Christian

    This international, interdenominational prayer movement was begun in 1887. The service material is produced by a different country each year. In 2018 the theme will be ‘All God’s Creation is Very Goodand the material has been prepared by Christian women in Suriname.


    9 March (Monday) to 10 March (Tuesday) PURIM Jewish

    Purim is a carnival festival, recalling the saving of the Jewish community of Persia, as retold in the Book of Esther (the Megillah), which is read through twice in each synagogue. The name of Haman is drowned out with rattles and hooters and boos by the congregation whenever it is read.


    10 March (Tuesday) HOLI / Hindu

    A spring festival lasting one to five days. Bonfires are lit and coloured powders and dyes are thrown over people.  Various stories of Vishnu and of Krishna and the gopis (milkmaids) are related throughout the festival.


    10/11 March (Tuesday / Wednesday) HOLA MAHALLA/HOLA MOHALLA Sikh

    In 1680 Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, introduced this festival at Anandpur in Punjab, India, on the day after the Hindu Holi. It includes displays of swordsmanship, horsemanship, archery and wrestling, together with displays of weapons and symposia of poetry, making it a lively and colourful occasion, particularly for young Sikhs.


    11 March (Wednesday) to 20 March (Friday) FRAVARDIGAN/MUKTAD Zoroastrian (Iranian)

    In the Fravardigan festival the immortal souls, together with their fravashis (the guardian spirits of departed ancestors, half man/half bird), come to reside in the place of worship.   Many Zoroastrians take time off to pray, recite the five Gathas and cleanse their houses. Daily samples of sacred food are tasted by them during the daily ceremonies.


    17 March (Tuesday) ST PATRICK’S DAY Christian / National

    The patron saint of Ireland, who lived in Britain in the 4th century CE, became a priest and set out to evangelise the Irish. His symbol is the shamrock, sprigs of which are worn on this day. Parades are held in Dublin and elsewhere, often of a secular nature.


    18 (Wednesday) to 24 (Tuesday) HIGAN Japanese

    20 March (Friday) SHUNBUN NO HI Japanese

    Marks the Spring equinox. As at the Autumn equinox, harmony and balance are the themes. Sutras are recited, and the graves of relatives are visited.



    A day to honour Joseph, who, along with Mary, was responsible for Jesus’ upbringing.


    20 March (Friday) SPRING EQUINOX (OSTARA) Pagan VERNAL EQUINOX (Alban Eiler or Alban Eilir) Druid

    By the Spring Equinox, the powers of the gathering year are equal to the darkness of winter and death. The God (the Green Man) awakens during this season. Some dedicate this time to Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility.


    20 March (Friday) NAW-RUZ Baha'i

    New Year’s Day and the end of the nineteen day fast that concludes the old year.


    21 March (Saturday) JAMSHEDI NORUZ Zoroastrian (Iranian)

    NoRuz (New Year’s Day) occurs on the first day of spring. It represents the resurgence of life and the symbolic victory of the forces of light over darkness.  New clothes are worn and gifts and prayers offered at the Fire Temple to seek blessings from Ahura Mazda, and to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony, followed by dancing and making merry.


    22 March (Sunday) MOTHERING SUNDAY (Simnel Sunday) Christian

    This is more popularly known as Mother’s Day. Traditionally, Christians visited their ‘mother church’ and took gifts to their mothers, which often included a simnel cake.



    This marks the night journey of the Prophet Muhammad through the heavens to the presence of God, when the command that Muslims should pray five times a day was given to the Prophet. The rock from which the Prophet ascended is now in Jerusalem’s ‘Dome of the Rock’.  Muslims mark this night by reading the Qur’an and saying additional prayers.


    23 March (Monday) AVA MAH PARAB (ABAN JASHAN) Zoroastrian (Shahenshahi - Parsi)

    Ava is the guardian/protector of the waters, and is associated with fertility. Zoroastrians celebrate the birth of the waters by going to seas, rivers and streams to recite a litany to the waters, to which they offer flowers, sugar, coconuts and flat cakes of sweet lentils.


    25 March (Wednesday) THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD / LADY DAY Christian (Anglican / Roman Catholic)

    Celebrates the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she is to bear a child, and her response in the Magnificat.


    26 March (Thursday) KHORDAD SAL Zoroastrian (Iranian)

    On the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra there are visits to the Fire Temple to give thanks to Ahura Mazda for his gift of the Prophet; to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony; to listen to stories of the miraculous birth and life of the Prophet; and to share in a happy community meal, a drink and a dance.


    29 March (Sunday) PASSION SUNDAY Christian 

    This is the 5th Sunday in Lent, when Christians begin to concentrate their thoughts on the Passion or suffering of Jesus.

  • April 2020

    2 April (Thursday) RAMA NAVAMI Hindu

    The birthday of Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, is celebrated at noon in the aarti ceremony, performed in front of a doll or of a picture depicting Rama swinging in a cradle.



    The first occasion in the year when family graves are visited. Many families cleanse and sweep them, offer food to the spirits, and picnic/feast by the grave with their ancestors.


    5 April (Sunday) PALM SUNDAY Christian

    First day of Holy Week, when Christians remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In many churches the entry is commemorated by processions, with the congregation carrying symbolic branches of trees, or palm leaves folded in the form of a cross.


    5 April (Sunday) - 11 April (Saturday) HOLY WEEK Christian

    The most solemn week of the Christian year, in which Christians recall the events of the week in which Jesus was crucified.


    6 April (Monday) MAHAVIRA JAYANTI (599 BCE) Jain

    The birthday of the last Tirthankara, or great teacher and model of the Jainas. His birth and the events surrounding it are re-enacted.  Monks or nuns read from the scriptures and teach about the rest of Mahavira’s life. Lay people then return home to a celebratory feast.


    8 April (Wednesday) HANAMATSURI Buddhist (Japanese)

    Mahayana flower festival to celebrate the Buddha Shakyamuni’s birthday. Shrines are erected and an image of the infant Buddha is bathed. Theravadins celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away later in the year, at the full moon in May.


    8 April (Wednesday) HANUMAN JAYANTI Hindu

    This Hindu festival recalls the birth of Lord Rama’s supreme devotee, the monkey-headed Hanuman, whose feats figure in the Ramayana epic.  Hanuman’s birth is celebrated at sunrise on the full-moon day of the lunar month of Chaitra.


    9 April (Thursday) to 10 April (Friday) (14th Sha'ban) THE NIGHT OF FORGIVENESS / LAILAT-UL-BARA'AH Muslim
    BIRTHDAY of 12th IMAM, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi (Shi‘a)

    Muslims seek forgiveness for their sins at this time.  Many hold that on this night a person’s destiny is fixed by Allah for the coming year. The night is spent in prayer, asking for forgiveness and God’s guidance. Some fast during the daytime in preparation.  In certain parts of the world Muslims visit the graves of relatives, and the giving of charity is also traditional. In many places the night is marked with firework displays.


    9 April (Thursday) - 16 April (Thursday) PASSOVER / PESACH Jewish

    An eight day festival when Jews commemorate the Exodus from their slavery in Egypt. The Seder meal is held in each family’s home at the beginning of the festival, when the story of their deliverance is recounted. Matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten throughout the festival.


    9 April (Thursday) MAUNDY THURSDAY Christian (Western Churches)

    Christians remember the Last Supper when Jesus blessed bread and wine and commanded his disciples to remember him whenever they did this.  The name ‘maundy’ comes from a Latin term ‘mandatum’ (‘commandment’), signifying Jesus' new commandment to his disciples, as recorded in John 15:17.


    10 April (Friday) GOOD FRIDAY Christian (Western Churches)

    This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. Meditative services are held in church to mark the time that Jesus spent on the cross.


    11 April (Saturday) HOLY SATURDAY (Easter Eve) Christian

    This is the last day of Lent. Special services involving the lighting of the Paschal Candle and the renewal of baptismal vows take place in the evening in preparation for Easter.


    12 April (Sunday) EASTER DAY Christian (Western Churches)

    Easter Day is the most important festival of the Christian year, as it is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Many Easter traditions, such as the giving of chocolate Easter eggs symbolise the gift of new life.
    Matthew 28:1-11, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-10.


    13 April (Monday) to 15 April (Wednesday) SONGKRAN Buddhist

    Traditional New Year’s Day festival in Thailand. Containers of water are thrown as a symbol of washing away all that is evil. Fragrant herbs are often placed in the water jug or bucket.


    13 April (Monday) VAISAKHI/BAISAKHI – Sikh

    In 1699, on Vaisakhi, the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, founded  the Order of the Khalsa. Five men (Five Beloved Ones), offered their lives when the Guru asked for volunteers. The ‘Five Ks’, the outward signs of Sikhism, were made obligatory and Sikh men took the name ‘Singh’ (lion) and women ‘Kaur’ (princess). The initiation ceremony, amrit, was introduced.


    19 April (Sunday) PASCHA/EASTER Christian (Orthodox) (Rastafarian)

    Easter Day, the most important festival of the Christian year, is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. A vigil is kept during the preceding night and the resurrection is greeted with the lighting of candles and the glad affirmation, ‘Christ is risen’.


    20 April (Monday) - 1 May (Friday) RIDVAN Baha’i

    The most important Baha’i festival.  In these 12 days, in the garden outside Baghdad after which the festival is named, Baha’u’llah declared himself the Promised One, prophesied by the Bab. The first, ninth and twelfth days are especially significant and are holy days, when no work is done.   It is during this period that Baha’is elect all their governing bodies.


    21 April (Tuesday) YOM HA-SHOAH (Holocaust Day) Jewish

    A day of remembrance for the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Memorial candles are lit and special services are held.


    21 April (Tuesday) ADAR MAH PARAB Zoroastrian (Shenshai - Parsi)

    On the ninth day of Adar, the 9th month, Zoroastrians celebrate the birthday of fire. They pay visits to the fire temple to make offerings of sandalwood or incense, and to thank the holy fire for the warmth and light it has given throughout the year. Traditionally on this day food is not cooked in the house as the fire is given a rest and the Atash Niyayeesh or litany to the fire is recited in honour of the house fire or the ceremonial oil lamp.


    23 April (Thursday) ST GEORGE’S DAY National

    St George is the patron saint of England. He lived and died in the Middle East, but his popularity grew after the Crusades, when his red cross on a white background became the symbol of the English Crusaders.


    24 April (Friday) to 23 May (Saturday) RAMADAN Muslim

    Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, when the Prophet received the first revelation of verses of the Qur’an.  It is the holiest month for Muslims, and they dedicate themselves to spiritual renewal, prayer and intensive devotional reading of the Qur’an.   During the month of Ramadan Muslims are required to fast from daybreak until after sunset. No food or drink may be consumed during the hours of fasting, and those fasting must also abstain from smoking and from sexual relations. After the custom of the Prophet, the fast is traditionally broken each evening by taking dates and water.


    29 April (Wednesday) YOM HA'ATZMA'UT Jewish

    Israeli Independence Day, commemorating the declaration of independence of Israel in 1948.


    30 April (Thursday) BELTAINE/MAY EVE Pagan

  • May 2020

    1 May (Friday) BELTAINE/MAY EVE Wiccan / Pagan

    The wheel of the year continues to turn and fertile spring yields to the height of summer.   Many pagans celebrate Beltaine by lighting fires and leaping over them, and/or with maypole dances, symbolizing the mystery of the Sacred Marriage of Goddess and God.


    7 May (Thursday) VESAKHA PUJA / WESAK / BUDDHA DAY Buddhist

    Wesak is the biggest of Buddhist festivals. Theravadins celebrate the birth, enlightenment   and final passing away of Gautama Buddha. Mahayanists have separate days for each of them, and on Bodhi Day celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha. Houses are decorated with lanterns and garlands, and temples are ringed with little oil lamps.  People often send ‘Wesak cards’ to their friends, and lay people come together at monasteries at this time.


    10 May (Sunday) – 16 May (Saturday) CHRISTIAN AID WEEK Christian

    Initiated in 1945, this fund raising week raises money for work with the needy throughout the world; mainly done by house to house collections and sales of goods of various kinds.


    12 May (Tuesday) LAG B'OMER Jewish

    The Omer lasts 49 days from Pesach to Shavuot. A time of sadness, it is relieved on the 33rd day. It recalls the end of a plague in Roman times. Weddings often take place on this day, since they are not usually permitted during the rest of the Omer period.


    15 May (Friday) LAILAT-UL-QADR [Shi'a] THE NIGHT OF POWER
    19 May (Tuesday) LAILAT-UL-QADR [Sunni] THE NIGHT OF POWER

    This commemorates the night in 610 CE when the Prophet Muhammad received his first visit from the angel Jibril (Gabriel) and his revelation of the Qur’an. Muslims believe that the date of this night is kept secret by God, but that they ‘may seek the Night of Dignity in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan’ (Bukhaari, quoting Aisha, who heard it from the Prophet).


    21 May (Thursday) ASCENSION DAY (40th day after Easter) Christian (Western Churches)

    This day commemorates the last earthly appearance of the Risen Christ, who, according to Christian belief, ascended into heaven in the presence of many witnesses.



    The Bab heralded the arrival of Baha’ullah and was co-founder of the Baha’i faith. He first declared his mission in Persia in 1844. He inaugurated the Baha’i calendar which numbers itself from the year of this declaration.


    23 May (Saturday) ZARATOSHT NO DISO Zoroastrian (Shahenshahi; Parsi) [26 December (Tuesday) (Iranian)]

    This is the death anniversary of the Prophet Zarathushtra. Tradition records he was assassinated at the age of 77. It is customary to visit the Fire Temple, and ponder upon the Gathas, the Hymns of Zarathushtra, which embody his eternal message to humanity.


    24 May (Sunday) EID-UL-FITR/FEAST OF FAST BREAKING (1st Shawwal) Muslim

    This is a time - once the fast of Ramadan has been completed - for making gifts to the poor. It is especially a time for new clothes, good food, and presents for children. Families get together and contact friends, especially those who live far away. The community assembles for Eid prayer and a sermon at its mosques. The traditional greeting is ‘Eid Mubarak’ – ‘a happy and blessed Eid’.



    Commemorates the death of Baha’u’llah at Bahji, near Acre, in 1892. His shrine there has become the place towards which all Baha’is face when praying.


    28 May (Thursday) ASCENSION DAY (40th day after Easter) Christian (Orthodox Churches)

    This day commemorates the last earthly appearance of the Risen Christ, who, according to Christian belief, ascended into heaven in the presence of many witnesses.


    29 May (Friday) - 30 May (Saturday) SHAVUOT / THE FEAST OF WEEKS / PENTECOST

    Seven weeks after Pesach, Shavuot celebrates the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai and the early harvest season in Israel. Summer flowers and dairy foods abound.


    31 May (Sunday) PENTECOST / WHIT SUNDAY Christian (Western Churches)

    Pentecost, named after the Jewish festival when the disciples of Jesus first proclaimed the Gospel after the gift of the Holy Spirit,is seen as the ‘birthday’ of the Church.  Its alternative name comes from the custom of baptizing converts dressed in white.

  • June 2020

    7 June (Sunday) TRINITY SUNDAY Christian (Western Churches)

    On Trinity Sunday, Christians reflect on the mystery of God, who is seen as One but is understood in and through God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit.


    7 June (Sunday) PENTECOST Christian (Orthodox Churches)

    An important festival in the Christian year, Pentecost is often seen as the ‘birthday’ of the Church, since this is when the disciples of Jesus first proclaimed the Gospel after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is named after the Jewish festival day on which this event happened.


    11 June (Thursday) Day of Thanksgiving for the institution of Holy Communion Christian (Anglican) Also known as Corpus Christi

    This day recalls the act of Jesus in instituting the celebration of Holy Communion.


    11 June (Thursday) CORPUS CHRISTI (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) Christian (Roman Catholic)

    Popular festival to celebrate the institution of the Mass/Eucharist.


    16 June (Tuesday) MARTYRDOM OF GURU ARJAN (1606) Sikh

    The fifth Guru was executed on the orders of the Moghul Emperor, Jehangir, for refusing to pay a fine arising from a charge of treason. Guru Arjan made the first compilation of the Sikh Scriptures, called the Adi Granth, and supervised the completion of what is now the Golden Temple in Amritsar. A gurpurb is held on this day, including  an akhand path.


    20 June (Saturday) MIDSUMMER SOLSTICE Wiccan / Pagan
    20 June (Saturday) SUMMER SOLSTICE (Alban Heruin or Alban Hefin) Druid

    The summer solstice is the festival of Midsummer, sometimes called Litha. The light of the sun is at the height of its power. It is a time of plenty and celebration.


    21 June (Sunday) WORLD HUMANIST DAY National

    This Humanist holiday is celebrated annually around the world on the June solstice. It is seen as a time for Humanists to gather socially to promote the positive values of Humanism. Methods of celebration are left to individuals, but some groups develop intricate social rituals, music, and proceedings which highlight the celebration.


    23 June (Tuesday) RATHA YATRA Hindu

    ‘Chariot journey’. This is observed most notably at Puri in the Indian state of Orissa, where processions of thousands of devotees pull huge waggons (rathas) supporting images of Krishna.  He is known under the name of ‘Jagannath’, (Lord of the Universe), from which the English term ‘juggernaut’ comes. Krishna is attended on his journey by his brother and sister.  The festival and others like it are celebrated in Britain with processions through various parts of London on appropriate Sundays.


    24 June (Monday) MIDSUMMER DAY National

    One of the four Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar.



    Great dragon boat races take place between slim rowing boats (sometimes 100 feet long) shaped like dragons. People also go down to the rivers to picnic and celebrate on boats.

  • July 2020

    1 July (Wednesday) JASHN-E TIRGAN (TIR JASHAN) Zoroastrian (Iranian)

    Jashn-e Tirgan is an ancient summer festival, celebrated some three months after the spring NoRuz. Tirgan is devoted to the divinity Tir and is associated with the dog-star Sirius, the coming of the rains in Iran and the fertility they bring. On this day it is customary to visit the Fire Temple to give thanks to Ahura Mazda, and to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony.


    5 July (Sunday) ASALHA PUJA or DHAMMA DAY Buddhist

    Dhammacakka day – ‘The turning of the wheel of teaching’.  A Theravada celebration of the First Proclamation by Gautama to five ascetics in the Deer Park near Benares. In it he taught the Middle Way, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.


    7 July (Tuesday) - 16 July (Thursday) FRAVARDIGAN Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

    In the Fravardigan festival the immortal souls, together with their fravashis (the guardian spirits of departed ancestors, half man/half bird), come to reside in the place of worship.   Many Zoroastrians take time off to pray, recite the five Gathas and cleanse their houses. Daily samples of sacred food are tasted by them during the daily ceremonies.


    13 July (Monday) - 15 (Wednesday) O-BON Japanese [not Tokyo]

    A Japanese festival when the spirits of the departed are welcomed back home with feasting and dancing. Fires are often lit to illuminate their arrival and departure.


    17 July (Friday) NAVROZE / NO RUZ Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

    New Year’s Day on the Shenshai Calendar. By the twentieth century the Parsis of India had become the largest group in the world practising Zoroastrianism, and in the twenty first century over 95% of Zoroastrians in the UK are Parsis. Like their Indian counterparts, they celebrate two new years – giving more time for making merry!



    19 July (Sunday) ANNIVERSARY OF THE MARTYRDOM OF THE BAB - 1850 - Baha’i

    The Bab was executed by firing squad in Tabriz, Persia, at noon on this day. The Bab’s death is commemorated at noon with readings and prayers from the Baha’i Scriptures.


    22 July (Wednesday) to 31 July (Friday) - 1st to 10th DHUL-HIJJAH Muslim

    For Muslims the first 10 days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah are held to be especially holy when good deeds are particularly rewarded by God. These days encompass the allotted days for the performance of the Hajj (pilgrimage) and the first day of Eid-ul-Adha (the feast of sacrifice).


    22 July (Wednesday) KHORDAD SAL Zoroastrian (Kadmi)

    Khordad Sal is the Birthday of Zarathushtra and falls on the sixth day after NoRuz. Khordad means perfection and the festival of Khordad Sal symbolically celebrates the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra. It is customary on this day to visit the Fire Temple, to give thanks to Ahura Mazda for giving humanity the Prophet Zarathushtra, to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony, to listen to stories of the miraculous birth and life of Prophet Zarathushtra, and to share in a happy community meal, a drink and a dance.


    23 July (Thursday) BIRTHDAY OF HAILE SELASSIE I Rastafarian

    One of the holiest days of the Rastafarian year. It is celebrated with Nyahbinghi drumming, hymns and prayers.


    24 July (Friday) CHOKOR (also CHO KOR DU CHEN) Buddhist

    This Tibetan/Nepalese festival commemorates the first teaching (the turning of the wheel of law) given by the historical Buddha. It is a colourful and relaxed mid-summer festival in which statues of the Buddha and copies of the scriptures, engraved on narrow, rectangular wooden blocks, are carried round the district with music and jollity, symbolising the promulgation of the Buddha’s teaching. The whole community, clerical and lay, male and female, joins in the processions and the picnics that follow.


    28 July (Tuesday) to 2 August (Sunday) HAJJ / PILGRIMAGE TO MAKKAH (8th to 12th Dhul-Hijjah) Muslim

    All Muslims who can afford to do so, and are not prevented through ill-health, are required to make this pilgrimage once in their lifetime (although there is no prohibition on making the pilgrimage more than once). A series of ritual acts are performed by the pilgrims during the first two days of Hajj.


    30 July (Thursday) YAUM-ARAFAH / THE DAY OF ARAFAT (9th Dhul-Hijjah) Muslim

    Muslims who are on Hajj spend the day in prayer on Mount Arafat to commemorate the end of the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet. Those not on Hajj are also expected to pray and to fast.


    30 July (Thursday) TISHA B'AV Jewish

    Full day fast mourning the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem and other tragedies in Jewish history. The Book of Lamentations is read.


    31 July (Friday) - 4 August (Tuesday) EID-UL-ADHA / THE FESTIVAL OF SACRIFICE (10th Dhul-Hijjah) Muslim

    This major festival (al-Eid al-Kabir) commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail. Muslims all over the world sacrifice an animal if they can afford it.  Much of the meat is distributed to the poor, and some is shared with relatives and friends.

  • August 2020

    1 August (Saturday) LAMMAS/LUGHNASADH Wiccan LUGHNASADH Pagan

    Lughnasadh, otherwise called Lammas, is the time of the corn harvest, when Pagans reap those things they have sown and when they celebrate the fruits of the mystery of Nature. At Lughnasadh, Pagans give thanks for the bounty of the Goddess as Queen of the Land.


    3 August (Monday) RAKSHA BANDHAN Hindu

    Raksha means ‘protection’ and bandhan means ‘to tie’.   Girls and married women in families of a north Indian background tie a rakhi (amulet) on the right wrists of their brothers, wishing them protection from evil influences of various kinds.


    6 August (Thursday) THE TRANSFIGURATION Christian

    This festival commemorates the occasion when Jesus went up a mountain with three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, who saw his face change and his clothes become dazzling white. They witnessed him in conversation with Moses and Elijah, and heard a voice saying, ‘This is my own dear Son with whom I am pleased – listen to him’. For many Christians this confirms the divine nature of Jesus.


    6 August (Thursday) – 15 August (Saturday) FRAVARDIGAN/MUKTAD Zoroastrian (Shahenshahi-Parsi)

    In the Fravardigan festival the immortal souls, together with their fravashis (the guardian spirits of departed ancestors, half man/half bird), come to reside in the place of worship.   Many Zoroastrians take time off to pray, recite the five Gathas and cleanse their houses. Daily samples of sacred food are tasted by them during the daily ceremonies.


    8 August (Saturday) THE FESTIVAL OF THE POOL / EID UL GHADEER Muslim (Shi‘a)

    This is a festival observed by Shi‘a Muslims, for whom it is an extremely important day. It commemorates an event shortly before the death of the Prophet and his announcement concerning Ali, which they understand to be his clear appointment to be successor to the prophet as the spiritual and temporal leader of Islam.


    12 August (Wednesday) JANMASHTAMI / KRISHNA JAYANTI  Hindu

    Birthday of Krishna. Many Hindus fast till midnight, the time of Krishna’s birth.  Those unable to fast will have some fruit and milk. In the temples Krishna is welcomed with singing, dancing and sweets.  In some homes and temples an image of the new-born Krishna is put in a cradle.  Krishna is a very popular avatar or incarnation of Vishnu and this festival is celebrated widely.


    13 August (Thursday) - 15 August (Saturday) O-BON Japanese [in Tokyo - for rest of Japan see 13 July]

    A Japanese festival when the spirits of the departed are welcomed back home with feasting and dancing. Fires are often lit to illuminate their arrival and departure.


    15 August (Saturday) ASSUMPTION (DORMITION) OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Christian (Roman Catholic)

    This celebrates the ‘taking up’ of Mary, body and soul, to heaven. Many Catholic communities mark the festival of the Assumption with processions and fêtes.


    15 August (Saturday) ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Christian (Anglican)
    28 August (Friday) THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD Christian (Eastern Orthodox, Julian Calendar)

    On this day, Eastern Orthodox Christians commemorate the passing of Mary, Mother of Christ, in the presence of the Apostles.  The apostles buried Mary at Gethsemane, where Jesus had also been buried; but on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, Mary appeared to them, saying "Rejoice".  When the apostles went to the grave, her body was gone, leaving a sweet fragrance.  This event conveys the idea of death as ‘falling asleep’ (this is what ‘dormition’ means), to be followed by eventual resurrection.


    16 August (Sunday) NAVROZE / NO RUZ Zoroastrian (Shenshai-Parsi)

    New Year’s Day on the Shenshai Calendar. By the twentieth century the Parsis of India had become the largest group in the world practising Zoroastrianism, and in the twenty first century over 95% of Zoroastrians in the UK are Parsis. Like their Indian counterparts, they celebrate two new years – giving more time for making merry!


    16 August (Sunday) to 23 August (Sunday) PARYUSHAN PARVA BEGINS Jain

    These are eight days of purification, devoted to study, prayer, meditation and fasting, and ending with a period of confession and forgiveness. Often monks will be invited to give teachings from the Jain scriptures. Paryushana means ‘to stay in one place’, which signifies a time of reflection and repentance. Originally the practice was monastic for the most part.


    21 August (Friday) KHORDAD SAL Zoroastrian (Shahenshahi) [26 March (Monday) Zoroastrian (Iranian)]

    Khordad Sal is the Birthday of Zarathushtra and falls on the sixth day after NoRuz. Khordad means perfection and the festival of Khordad Sal symbolically celebrates the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra. It is customary on this day to visit the Fire Temple, to give thanks to Ahura Mazda for giving humanity the Prophet Zarathushtra, to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony, to listen to stories of the miraculous birth and life of Prophet Zarathushtra, and to share in a happy community meal, a drink and a dance.


    22 August (Saturday) ISLAMIC NEW YEAR 1441 / AL-HIJRA / RA'S UL 'AM (Muharram 1) Muslim

    This day commemorates the Hijra or migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Medina in 622 CE, which led to the establishment of the Muslim community there. The day is not universally celebrated amongst Sunni Muslims but is notable as Muslim years are dated from this time and are marked AH (After the Hijrah). In 2018 CE the Muslim year 1440 AH begins.


    22 August (Saturday) GANESH CHATURTHI  Birthday of Ganesh Hindu

    This is a Hindu festival in honour of Ganesh, the god of good fortune and new beginnings. He was the elephant headed son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, and is often referred to as Ganupati. Celebrations conclude with the immersion in water of the image of Ganesh.


    23 August (Sunday) SAMVATSARI  Jain

    (International Forgiveness Day for Jains), is the last day of Paryushana. It is the holiest day of the Jain calendar. Many Jains observe a complete fast on this day. The whole day is spent in prayers and contemplation.



    This Double Seven festival perpetuates an ancient folk tale of two stars, one on either side of the Heavenly River (the Milky Way). They are held to have been a herd boy and a heavenly weaving maid who had married but were separated when she returned to heaven. The lovers are allowed a reunion on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month when a flock of magpies form a bridge across the Heavenly River.


    29 August (Saturday) ASHURA (10th Muharram) Muslim

    For Sunni Muslims Ashura is a minor fast observed by the Prophet. Shi‘a Muslims recall a great tragedy that took place in AH 61 (680 CE). The Imam Husayn (son of Ali and Fatimah and therefore grandson of the Prophet) was attacked and killed at Karbala (now in Iraq) along with his family and followers by the troops of the Caliph Yazid.

  • September 2020

    * Sept/Oct HARVEST FESTIVAL Christian (Western, Anglican and Free Churches)

    Displays of various foods are made in churches and Sunday schools and services are held to give thanks for the goodness of God’s gifts in nature.


    The Golden Temple, Amritsar 1604 CE - Sikh

    The Sikhs’ fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, installed the volume of scripture, the Adi Granth, on this date. It consisted of the hymns of the first five Gurus plus those of other ‘saint-poets’. Hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur were later added to form the present Guru Granth Sahib.



    Chinese Buddhist and ancestral festival, when paper objects for use in the spirit world are made and offered to aid those spirits who have no resting place or descendants. Large paper boats are made and burnt at temples to help spirits cross the sea of torment to Nirvana.


    3 September (Thursday) FRAVARDIN MAH PARAB Zoroastrian (Shahenshahi; Parsi)

    At Fravardin Zoroastrians visit the Towers of Silence in India (or in the UK the Zoroastrian Cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey) to participate in a jashan ceremony in memory of the departed fravashis (guardian spirits and souls of the community). Sacred food is prepared as an offering to the departed during the jashan and is later shared by the participants.


    11 September (Friday) ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR’S DAY Rastafarian

    Rastafarians have a four year cycle, in which each year is named after one of the evangelists.


    19 September (Saturday) - 20 October (Sunday) ROSH HASHANNAH Jewish

    5779 years from the creation of the world, this festival begins ten days of self examination. The ram’s horn (shofar) blown in the synagogue recalls Abraham’s sacrifice of a ram instead of his son, Isaac. Apples dipped in honey are eaten in the hope of a ‘sweet’ new year. The greeting is ‘Leshanah Tovah Tikatev’ (may you be inscribed for a good year).


    20 September (Sunday) – 26 September (Saturday) HIGAN
    23 September (Wednesday) SHUUBUN NO HI Japanese

    Marks the autumn equinox. As at the spring equinox, harmony and balance are the themes; sutras are recited and the graves of relatives are visited.


    22 September (Tuesday) AUTUMN EQUINOX (MABON) Wiccan Pagan
    22 September (Tuesday) AUTUMN EQUINOX (ALBAN ELUED or ALBAN ELFED) Druid

    Day and night stand hand in hand as equals. As the shadows lengthen, Pagans see the darker faces of the God and Goddess. For many Pagans, this rite honours old age and the approach of Winter


    28 September (Monday) YOM KIPPUR Jewish

    The last of the ten days of repentance, this ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths’ is the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is marked by ‘afflicting the soul’ – expressed through a total fast 25 hours long. Jews spend the eve and most of the day in prayer, asking for forgiveness for past wrongs and resolving to improve in the future. The Book of Jonah is read.


    29 September (Tuesday) MICHAELMAS National

    One of the four Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar.

  • October 2020

    * Sept/Oct HARVEST FESTIVAL Christian (Western, Anglican and Free Churches)

    Displays of various foods are made in churches and Sunday schools and services are held to give thanks for the goodness of God’s gifts in nature.


    1 October (Thursday) JASHN-E MEHERGAN (or MIHR JASHAN) Zoroastrian (Iranian)

    The festival of Mehergan is dedicated to the divinity Meher or Mithra, who is associated with the sun and with justice. Thanks are offered at the fire temple and the community shares in a meal that includes dry fruits and nuts, along with a drink, dancing and merrymaking.



    This Mid-Autumn festival celebrates the moon’s birthday. Offerings are made to the rabbit in the moon, who is pounding the elixir of life with a pestle. ‘Spirit money’ is brought along with incense and offered to the moon by women, who also make special ‘moon’ cakes containing ground lotus and sesame seeds or dates.


    1 October (Thursday) PAVARANA DAY Buddhist

    The last day of the Rains Retreat (the Vassa) is known as Pavarana Day or ‘Leaving the Vassa’. Pavarana means ‘to invite’ and on this day monks who have completed the Retreat invite their fellows to admonish them for any failings. It is also known as ‘Sangha Day’.


    2 October (Friday) GANDHI JAYANTI Hindu

    Gandhi Jayanti is an Indian national holiday that celebrates the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who is referred to as the ‘Father of the Nation’. He was the driving force behind the foundation of the state of India. His birthday is celebrated with services, prayers and painting and essay contests, using topics that glorify peace and non-violence, and the singing of Gandhi’s favourite devotional song entitled ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ (Ram Dhun for short).


    3 October (Saturday) to 9 October (Friday) SUKKOT Jewish

    This harvest festival recalls the 40 years the Jews spent in the wilderness on the way from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. A temporary hut or booth – called a sukkah – is used for eating meals and for visits and socialising.  The roof, which has to be open in part to the elements, is covered with branches and decorated with fruit.


    11 October (Sunday) SIMCHAT TORAH Jewish

    The annual reading of the Torah is completed on this day.  The reading moves from the last words of Deuteronomy to the first ones of Genesis.  All the Torah scrolls are paraded around the synagogue, while children dance and sing, as do many of the adults.


    11 October (Sunday) to 18 October (Sunday) INTER FAITH WEEK OF PRAYER FOR WORLD PEACE

    Prayers from the literature of several different world religions are published each year in a special leaflet.  They are composed and used by many different religious communities.


    17 October (Saturday) to 25 October (Sunday) NAVARATI Hindu
    22 October (Thursday) to 26 October (Monday) DURGA PUJA Hindu
    25 October (Sunday) DUSSEHRA / VIJAYA DASHAMIPUJA Hindu

    Navaratri means ‘nine nights’, which is how long the festival lasts. In Northern India the performance of the Ram Lila during Navaratri commemorates Rama’s victory over Ravana, the demon king of Sri Lanka. The day after the end of Navaratri is celebrated as the 'victorious tenth' (Vijaya Dashami) and huge figures of Ravana are filled with fireworks and burned on Ram Lila grounds (public areas). In the UK some temple congregations carry this out on a smaller scale. Elsewhere the goddess Durga is worshipped on the eighth day.  Panjabis mark the day by giving food and other items to young girls.


    18 October (Sunday) ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF THE BAB Baha'i

    The Bab (the title means ‘Gate’) called people to religious renewal and to await the coming of a messenger from God, believed to be Baha’u’llah (a title that means ‘Glory of God’).



    Founder of the Baha’i faith, he was born the eldest son of a Persian nobleman in Tehran, Persia, in 1817.



    In 1708 Guru Gobind Singh declared that, instead of having another human Guru, from now on Sikhs would regard the scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, as their Guru.



    This is the day for hill climbing or ‘going up on a high place’, where kites are flown, family graves visited, and a ‘golden pig’ is shared by large families with fruit, wine, tea and rice.


    29 October (Thursday) THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S BIRTHDAY / MILAD UL NABI (12th Rabi'ul-Awwal) (Sunni)              3 November (Tuesday) THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S BIRTHDAY / MILAD UL NABI (17th Rabi'ul-Awwal) (Shi'a)

    Widely celebrated and a public holiday in many Muslim countries. Qur’anic readings and songs in praise of the Prophet feature.  The exact date of the Prophet’s birth is uncertain.


    30 October (Friday) ANAPANASATI DAY Buddhist

    The last day on which the Kathina may be held. On the final day of the three months long Rains Retreat, a Kathina robe is made of patches of cloth. It is presented to a particularly deserving or virtuous monk, in a ceremony conducted by four of his colleagues.


    31 October (Saturday) SAMHAIN (pronounced Sow-in) Wiccan Pagan SAMHUINN Druid

    The Celtic wheel of the year turns and the veil between life and death is drawn aside. Samhain is the festival of death when Pagans remember and honour those who have gone before. Fires are lit and ‘dead wood’ is burned before stepping into the darkness of winter.  

    The wheel of the year is seen to begin at Samhain. Pagans celebrate death as part of life. This is not a time of fear, but a time to understand more deeply that life and death are part of a sacred whole.

    31 October (Saturday) HALLOWE'EN Heathen

    Halloween / Hallowe’en is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting ‘haunted houses’, and carving jack-o-lanterns.   Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.   Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

  • November 2020

    1 November (Sunday) LOY KRATONG Buddhist

    Loy Kratong is celebrated in most of the village and town temples in Thailand and often coincides with a temple's Kathina Day. Degradable baskets are made and filled with carefully folded banana leaves, incense sticks, a candle and sometimes a coin. These are then launched on rivers, canals ponds or the sea, while a wish for good fortune is offered to the spirits of the water.


    1 November (Sunday) ALL SAINTS’ DAY Christian (Western Churches)

    This day provides a chance to offer thanks for the work and witness of all saints, recognising that not all are known or specially celebrated. Many churches stress this day by holding events especially designed for children.


    2 November (Monday) ALL SOULS’ DAY Christian

    The departed are remembered on this day and prayers are offered on their behalf.



    One of the holiest days of the Rastafarian year; it celebrates Haile Selassie’s accession to the Ethiopian throne.


    8 November (Sunday) REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY National

    The Sunday nearest to Armistice Day, devoted to remembering the dead of the two World wars and subsequent wars.


    8 November (Sunday) to 15 November (Sunday) INTER-FAITH WEEK

    Held in the second week of November Inter-Faith week seeks to strengthen good inter-faith relations, increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities, and increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.


    14 November (Saturday) to 18 November (Wednesday) DIVALI / DIWALI / DEEPAVALI Hindu / Jain

    For Hindus this is a New Year festival lasting from one to five days, during which fireworks are set off and lights are hung out.  It is a festival of light, coinciding with the darkest night of the lunar month. It is generally associated with Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity, or with the victorious return of Rama and Sita after their exile. Divali marks the beginning of the Indian financial year.


    14 November (Saturday) DIVALI / BANDI CHHOR DIVAS Sikh

    Sikhs also celebrate Divali since Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, was released from Gwalior prison on this day. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is illuminated and firework displays take place there.  It is a time for new clothes, presents and sweets.


    15 November (Sunday) SHICHI-GO-SAN (Seven-Five-Three) Japanese

    Girls of seven, boys of five and girls of three are dressed up in new clothes and taken to a Shinto shrine to pray for their future well-being.


    24 November (Tuesday) MARTYRDOM OF GURU TEGH BAHADUR (1675) Sikh

    Under orders from the Moghul emperor, the ninth Guru was executed in public opposite the Red Fort in Delhi, so sacrificing his head rather than his faith, on behalf of Kashmiri Hindus, who had turned to him for help.


    29 November (Sunday) ADVENT SUNDAY Christian (Western Churches)

    The start of the Christian year, four Sundays before Christmas. It is often celebrated by lighting the first candle in the advent crown – a circular wreath of greenery. A further three candles are lit on subsequent Sundays, culminating with the Christmas candle on the 25th December. This signifies the transition from darkness to light.


    30 November (Monday) BIRTHDAY OF GURU NANAK (1469 CE) Sikh

    This is the birthday of Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. To celebrate it, Sikhs gather at the gurdwara to hear sermons and sing hymns about the life of the first Guru. The congregation will share a free meal (langar).


    30 November (Monday) ST ANDREW’S DAY National

    The patron saint of Scotland since the 8th century. Andrew was an apostle and brother of St Peter. In the Anglican communion he is associated with missionary activity.

  • December 2020

    8 December (Tuesday) BODHI DAY Buddhist

    Some Buddhists (eg Pure Land followers) celebrate Gautama’s attainment of Enlightenment on this day under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, North India.


    8 December (Tuesday) IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Christian (Roman Catholic)

    This day celebrates the doctrine, held mainly by Roman Catholics, that Mary herself was born free from Original Sin, leaving her sinless for the conception and bearing of Jesus.


    10 December (Thursday) HUMAN RIGHTS’ DAY (National)

    In 1948 The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: ‘All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.’


    11 December (Friday) to 18 December (Friday) HANUKAH Jewish

    Celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was recaptured from the Syrian Greeks by the Maccabee brothers in 165 BCE. For the eight evenings of the festival, candles are lit from right to left in a hanukkiah, a nine-branched menorah – one candle for each evening. The ninth candle is the shamash (the servant candle) from which the other candles are lit. Foods cooked with oil - such as doughnuts and latkes (potato cakes) – are traditional to remember the miracle with oil that happened at this time.


    21 December (Monday) WINTER SOLSTICE (Alban Arthan or Alban Arthuan) Druid
    21 December (Monday) YULE (archaic form Geola, pronounced Yula) Wiccan / Pagan

    Yule is the time of the winter solstice, when the sun is reborn, an image of the return of all new life. Heathens celebrate Yule for twelve nights and days, starting the evening before the Winter Solstice (called Mother’s night), when they think of their female ancestors and spiritual protectors. The night heralds the beginning of the major holiday in Heathenry.


    24 December (Thursday) CHRISTMAS EVE Christian

    Evening carol services, crib services and Midnight Masses inaugurate the festival of Christmas. Santa Claus (from the Dutch Sinter Klaus) is a legendary figure, based on St Nicholas of Myra, and is supposed to bring presents to children on Christmas Eve.


    25 December (Friday) CHRISTMAS DAY Christian (see also 6/7 January 2020)

    Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus, whom Christians believe to be the son of God. Gifts are given as reminders of the offerings brought to the infant Jesus, and Christmas carols, plays and evergreens are associated with this time, while nativity sets are displayed in many churches and in some homes.


    26 December (Saturday) ZARATOSHT NO DISO Zoroastrian (Iranian)

    Zaratosht no diso is the death anniversary of Prophet Zarathushtra and is a sorrowful occasion. Tradition records that he was assassinated at the age of 77. It is customary to visit the Fire Temple, participate in special remembrance prayers and ponder upon the Gathas or Hymns of Zarathushtra, which embody his eternal message to humanity.


    31 December (Thursday) OMISOKA Japanese

    Japanese festival which prepares for the new year by cleansing Shinto home shrines and Buddhist altars. The bells of Buddhist temples are struck 108 times to warn against the 108 evils to be overcome.


    31 December (Thursday) HOGMANAY National

    A celebration widely observed throughout the UK, and especially in Scotland, where bagpipes, haggis and first footing are widespread.  Clearing one’s debts, cleaning the house, welcoming guests and strangers and a host of other traditions feature at this time.


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