Religious Holy Days


September 2017

For Native Americans, September marks the season of Genuuqwiikw, the season of mountain trails and the beginning of the fall hunt for game; the Iroquois Green Corn Ceremony, a time of renewal involving dances, fasting, offerings, and readings from the code of Handsome Lake; and the Jicarilla Apache Ghost Dance in New Mexico.


Friday, September 1
Eid al-Adhá – Islam
This three-day festival of sacrifice begins at sundown and is the concluding act of pilgrimage for Muslims; adherents offer sheep, goats, and camels, whose meat is then distributed to the poor.

First Parkash – Sikhism
The commemoration of the installation of the Adi Granth, the first edition of the Sikh scriptures, in the Golden Temple by Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh guru, in 1604 C.E.

Monday, September 4
Ksamavani – Jainism
A day of universal forgiveness, in which Jains ask forgiveness of others for wrongs committed during the previous year, and they also forgive those who have caused them suffering.

Tuesday, September 5
Anant Chaturdashi – Jainism and Hinduism
For Hindus this day celebrates Anant, one form of Lord Vishnu. If a devout Hindu vows to honor Vishnu and keeps that vow for 14 years, it is believed that she or he will see wealth. This is also the last day of Ganesh Utsav, a 10-day Hindu celebration. Statues of Lord Ganesha are carried to bodies of water to be submerged, accompanied by devotional songs and dancing.  Jains celebrate this day with special worship services and processions to the community’s main temple. 

Zhōngyuán Jié [Ghost Festival] – Taoism  
According to Chinese Taoist belief, this day is when deceased ancestors visit the homes of the living.  Families prepare feasts and set tables with empty chairs so that the living and the dead can share the meal together.

Thursday, September 7
‘Izzat – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the tenth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “might.”

Pitr-paksha or Mahalay Paksha – Hinduism  
The beginning of a two-week period during which Hindu adherents perform shraddha rites to gratify the spirits of their deceased ancestors, including giving food or other donations as a form of charitable service.

Friday, September 8
Nativity of the Mother of God [Theotokos] or Birth of the Blessed Virgin – Christianity  
This festival celebrates the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth.  In Eastern Orthodox churches she is known by the honorific of Theotokos.

Monday, September 11
Ethiopian New Year – Rastafari
A sacred day for Rastafarians because they consider Ethiopia to be their spiritual homeland, to which they aspire to return.

Tuesday, September 12
Ghambar Paitishahem – Zoroastrianism [through Saturday, September 16]
This festival celebrates the creation of the earth and the summer harvest.
Thursday, September 14
Elevation or Exultation of the Holy Cross – Christianity
This day recognizes the Cross as a symbol of Christ’s love for humankind and God’s victory over death.  It also marks the finding of the Holy Cross by St. Helen after it had been stolen in the 7th century C.E.  Orthodox churches begin their commemoration at sundown on the preceding day. In the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, this day is known as Meskel and is marked on September 27th.

Wednesday, September 20
Ra’s al-Sanat al-Hijriyah: Islamic New Year [First of Muharram] – Islam
Commemorating the migration of the prophet Muhammad and his small band of followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., in order to escape persecution and to establish the first Muslim community.  The Islamic year 1439 begins at sundown.

Rosh Hashanah begins – Judaism
Beginning at sundown is New Year’s Day for the year 5778 and the anniversary of the creation of the world.  Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) and apples and honey, marking it as the first of the Ten Days of Awe [or Repentance].  

Thursday, September 21
Navaratra or Navaratri Dusserha – Hinduism  
The beginning of a nine-day festival of the divine mother, honoring Shiva’s wife Durga and seeking her blessings.  It is also observed as a celebration recalling the days of Lord Krishna.  Fasting and prayer are practiced.

Friday, September 22   autumn equinox
Shuki-sorei-sai – Shinto
A memorial service similar to the March equinox service (Shunki-sorei-sai), this day is marked by the cleaning and purification of gravesites and the reverence of ancestors as kami, or divine spirits.

Ohigon – Buddhism
A celebration of the equinox that is of particular importance to Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan Buddhists.  During this festival, the six Paramitas [virtues] are emphasized: generosity, morality, wisdom, honesty, endeavor, and patience. 

Autumn Feast – Native American spirituality
A day to honor the harvest end and the coming and going of the seasons, including prayers, songs, and the telling of tribal stories. 

Mabon [Harvest Home] – Wicca
Marking the second or continuing harvest, this festival celebrates life’s encapsulation as a seed to survive the cold winter, as well as the Harvest of the Vine, which symbolizes the divine power to transform the nectar of youth into the wine of elders’ wisdom and spiritual maturity.

Sunday, September 24 
Fast of Gedaliah – Judaism
A fast in memory of Gedaliah Ben Ahikam, the governor of Israel during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia, who was assassinated in 581 B.C.E.  Following his death, the Jews who had returned to Judah fled to Egypt, thus vacating the land of a Jewish presence and completing the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, September 26
Mashí’yyat – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the eleventh month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “perfection.”

Thursday, September 28
Birth of Confucius – Confucianism
The birthday of the philosopher Confucius [K’ung-tzu] in 551 B.C.E. in the Chinese state of Lu, known today as Shandong Province.

Friday, September 29
Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] – Judaism
The holiest day of the Jewish year.  To reestablish their relationship with God, Jews ask for forgiveness and forgive others [Kol Nidre], and then they can confess their sins and ask for divine forgiveness.  Prayer and fasting begin at sundown on this day and continue through the following day. 

St. Michael and All Angels – Christianity
A celebration of the archangel Michael and all angels (from the Greek angelos, “divine messenger”) mentioned in the Bible.

Saturday, September 30
Dashara, Vijaya Dashami, or Dussehra – Hinduism
Celebrates the triumph of Durga, the Divine Mother who manifests fierce compassion, over the forces of evil, as well as commemorating Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana.

Worldwide General Conference begins – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
This is the largest worship service for Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) and lasts for two days.  Conference proceedings are broadcast live over the Internet and through other electronic media.

Thank you

Thank you to ACPE Supervisor Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark at UCSF Medical Center Spiritual Care Services, San Francisco, CA, for compiling this list each month. Email him for more information.  

Also our thanks to the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, the Multifaith Action Society of British Columbia (Canada), BBC’s Religion Website, Peel Schools District Board (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), the Arizona State University Provost’s Office, the NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad, the Anti-Defamation League, Project Interfaith (Omaha, NE), the University of Victoria Faculty of Law (British Columbia, Canada), and www.interfaithcalendar.org

To subscribe to this calendar and sync it with your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendars, visit ucsfspiritcare.org and select the “Resources” menu.