Religious Holy Days


January 2020

January 1
Feast of St. Basil (Orthodox Christianity)
This day celebrates St. Basil, one of the great fathers of the Orthodox Church. An influential Christian theologian and monastic, Basil was also known for his attention to the underprivileged and poor, and his writings on asceticism.

Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (Orthodox Christianity)
This Feast commemorates the naming and circumcision of the baby Jesus, eight days after he was born.

Gantan-sai (Shinto)
Gantan-sai is the Shinto celebration of the new year (oshogatsu). This day is one of the most popular for shrine visits, as many pray for inner renewal, health and prosperity.

Mary, Mother of God (Catholic Christianity)
This liturgical feast celebrates the Virgin Mary and her motherhood of Jesus. Some countries recognize this day with church services.

January 5 
Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Birthday (Sikhism)
Gobind Singh (1666-1708) was the tenth Sikh Guru, and the last of the human-form Gurus. On his birthday, Sikhs celebrate Gobind Singh as a saint and a soldier: he worked toward reforming his religion and persevered in the face of persecution.

Twelfth Night (Christianity)
The Twelfth Night marks the conclusion of the twelve days of Christmas and the eve of Epiphany. According to tradition, three kings arrived in Bethlehem twelve days after Jesus' birth to bestow gifts. This night is celebrated much like Christmas Eve, with merrymaking, eating traditional foods like King Cake, and parties.

January 6 
Christmas (Armenian Orthodox Christianity)
Armenian Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on Epiphany, except for Armenians living in Israel, who celebrate Christmas on January 19th. This day marks the Armenian Orthodox celebration of Christ's birth and baptism. 

Epiphany (Christianity)
Known as Theophany in Eastern Christianity, it celebrates the manifestation of Jesus as Christ. In addition, the Western Church associates Epiphany with the journey of the Magi to the infant Jesus, and the Eastern Church with the baptism of Jesus by John. 

Dia de los Reyes / Three Kings Day (Latin American Christianity)
In Latin American countries, this day is referred to as Día de los Reyes, Three Kings Day, and children receive gifts from los reyes magos: the three wise men. Children and adults leave their shoes out for the Kings' presents before they go to bed the night before and leave treats to refresh the traveling Magi. 

January 7 
Christmas (Orthodox Christianity) 
Most Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas 13 days later than Western Christian churches based on their use of the Julian rather than the Gregorian version of the Western calendar. The Feast of the Nativity is the Orthodox Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is also the break of a 40-day fast, in which participants purify both body and soul in preparation for Christ's birth.

10th Tevet (Judaism)
The 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet is a Jewish fast day that reflects upon Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia's siege of Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. This event ultimately led to the destruction of the First Temple, Solomon's Temple, and Babylonia's conquest of Israel's Kingdom of Judah.

January 10–12 
Mahayana New Year (Buddhist)
In Mahayana countries the New Year starts on the first full moon day in January and lasts for three days. It is a time to reflect on the past and cleanse oneself from the prior year's sins to make a fresh start.

January 12 
Baptism of Lord Jesus (Christianity)
Although Eastern Christianity celebrates the baptism of Jesus at Epiphany, Catholics and Episcopalians celebrate his baptism by Jean the Baptist on the following Sunday. This day is also the beginning of ordinary time on the liturgical calendar.

January 13 
Maghi (Sikhism)
Maghi is the day in which Sikhs commemorate the martyrdom of the Forty Immortals, followers of Guru Gobind Singh, who were all killed while fighting a Mughal army. On this day, many Sikhs gather in Muktsar, India, the original site where Gobind Singh blessed the martyrs and cremated their bodies. Sikhs visit their places of worship (gurdwaras) and listen to hymns (kirtan).

January 15 
Makar Sankranti (Hinduism)
Seasonal celebration marking turning of the sun toward the north.

January 17 
Blessing of the Animals (Christianity)
Saint Anthony, the Patron Saint of the Animal Kingdom, is recognized on this day. Similar to St. Francis of Assisi's feast day, animals are welcome and blessed at many church services.

January 19 
World Religion Day (Bahá’í)
Observance to proclaim the oneness of religion and the belief that world religion will unify the peoples of the earth.

Feast of Theophany (Orthodox Christianity)
The Orthodox Church marks this day as the anniversary of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. For the Feast of Theophany, Orthodox Christians reflect on their own baptism and salvation.

January 20 
Timkat (Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity)
Timkat is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany: the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. During this celebration, there is a ritual reenactment of the baptism and a procession with the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant. The clergy often dress in bright robes, carrying colorful umbrellas, and sing and dance as they escort the Tabot back to the church.

January 25 
Lunar New Year (Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist)
Also known as the Spring Festival, an important festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. The most important holiday for the Chinese, the New Year is a time to reflect on the past and celebrate the future. This is a 15-day celebration with each day having special significance.

Conversion of St. Paul (Christianity)
On this day, Christians commemorate the conversion of Paul the Apostle. Previously known as Saul of Tarsus, a great persecutor of Christians, Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, when he had a vision of Christ.

January 29 
Vasant Panchami (Hinduism)
This festival is dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. On this day, schools and colleges often organize special worship of Saraswati, many participate in special activities at Hindu temples, and young children are taught their first words.

January 31
Birthday of Guru Har Rai (Sikhism)
Guru Har Rai (1630-1661) was the seventh of the 10 human-form Sikh Gurus. He is celebrated for his compassion for life and living things. Tradition says that at a young age, he was disturbed by the suffering of a flower after he accidentally damaged it in passing. This strong compassion continued throughout his life and his work.