Religious Holy Days

May 2019

Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May and June mark the season of the Hopi Kachina Dances, in which Arizona Hopi celebrants represent various spirit-powers and perform ritual dances in open pueblo areas.  It is also the time of Yansa’altt, the season of berry blossoms—anticipating the berry harvest in summer, which is essential for survival in winter.

Wednesday, May 1  
Beltane [also called Beltain or May Day] – Wicca
Celebration of the sacred marriage of the divine forces—and the conception of the sun-child—that are the basis of all creation.

Thursday, May 2
Birthday of Gurū Arjan Dev – Sikhism
Gurū Arjan Dev (1563 – 1606 C.E.) was the fifth of the Sikh Gurūs.

Twelfth Day of Ridván – Bahá’í 
The conclusion of the Bahá’í festival that commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s exile in Baghdad leading up to his declaration as the one announced by the Báb in 1863 C.E.
Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Day) – Judaism
A day of remembrance for the six million Jews who died because of Nazi atrocities during World War II.  The date chosen is the closest date on the Jewish calendar to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

Friday, May 3
National Day of Prayer – Multi-faith, USA

Saturday, May 4
Ghambar Maidyozarem ends  – Zoroastrianism
The end of the celebration of the creation of the sky and the harvesting of the winter crops.

Sunday, May 5
Ramadān begins – Islam
A holy month of fasting and prayer, in which all adult and physically competent Muslims abstain from food, water, and sexual relations from dawn to sunset.  Ramadān ends on June 4th. 

Tuesday, May 7
Akshaya-tritiya [Immortal Third] – Jainism
A day celebrating when Lord Adinatha or Rishabhadeva, the traditional founder of the Jain faith and the first tīrthankar (a being who helps others to cross the great ocean of worldly life and achieve liberation), broke his first year-long fast by drinking juice from a sugar cane.

Wednesday, May 15
Restoration of the Aaronic priesthood – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Marking the restoration of this order by John the Baptist and conferred upon the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on this date in 1829 C.E. 

Friday, May 17
‘Azamat – Bahá’í
The beginning of the fourth month of the Bahá’í year, ‘Azamat means “grandeur.”

Monday, May 20
Visakha Puja [Buddha Day] – Buddhism 
Celebrated by Theravdin Buddhists on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, this is a triple commemoration of the historical Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death and entrance into nirvana.

Thursday, May 23
Birthday of Gurū Amar Das – Sikhism
Gurū Amar Das (1479 – 1574 C.E.) was the third of the Sikh Gurūs.
Lag B’Omer –  Judaism
The 33rd day in the counting of the period between Pesach [Passover] and Shavuot [the giving of the Law]; the festival begins at sundown.

Friday, May 24
Declaration of the Báb – Bahá’í
The celebration of the day in 1844 C.E. when he announced his identity as the Gate or herald of the new age in Shiraz, Persia (modern-day Iran).

Monday, May 27  Memorial Day
Wednesday, May 29
Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh – Bahá’í
The anniversary of the death of the founder of the Bahá’í faith in Palestine in 1892 C.E.  Adherents suspend work on this day.

Thursday, May 30
Ascension Day – Christianity (Western churches)
The anniversary of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, celebrated forty days after Easter.  In the Roman Catholic Church, this day is celebrated on Sunday, June 2nd. 
Laylat al-Qadr [Night of Power or Destiny] – Islam
A festival commemorating the first revelation of the Qur’ān to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 C.E., at the age of forty.  Often fixed as the 27th day of the Islamic month of Ramadān, Sunnis may also observe it on the 21st, 23rd, 25th or 29th. Shi’ites observe it on the 19th, 21st or 23rd of Ramadān. The festival begins at sundown.   

June 2019

For Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, June marks Miso’o, the season of Sockeye salmon, which is the most important food source for the coming year.  In Arizona, this is also the season of the Hopi Kachina Dances, in which long lines of dancers (representing various spirit-powers) perform in the open plazas of Hopi pueblos.

Friday, May 31
Jum’at al-Wadā [Farewell Friday] – Islam
As the last Friday in the month of Ramadān and the Friday immediately preceding Eid al-Fitr, this day is not a festival day, but it is still considered special by many Muslims.

Monday, June 3
Eid al-Fitr – Islam
This is the Breaking of the Fast that celebrates the end of the month of Ramadān.  Usually lasting three days, this festival begins at sundown with communal prayer and may also include charitable acts, visiting family and friends, preparing special foods, dressing in new clothes, and giving gifts.

Wednesday, June 5
Ascension Day – Christianity (Eastern churches)
The anniversary of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, celebrated forty days after Easter with services beginning at sundown.    
Núr – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the fifth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “light.”

Saturday, June 8
Shavuot [Feast of Weeks] – Judaism
A two-day festival, beginning at sundown, that celebrates the harvest of first fruits and the giving of the Law (or Torah) to Moses at Mt. Sinai.  The name Shavuot derives from the Hebrew words for “seven” and “week,” because it marks seven weeks following Pesach or Passover.

Sunday, June 9
Pentecost Sunday – Christianity (Western churches)
A celebration of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the Apostles following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Pentecost [which derives from the Latin for “fifty,” because it occurred fifty days after Easter] is often known as “the birthday of the Christian Church.

Saturday, June 15
Pentecost – Christianity (Eastern churches)
A celebration of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the Apostles following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Pentecost [which derives from the Latin for “fifty,” because it occurred fifty days after Easter] is often known as “the birthday of the Christian Church.  Services begin at sunset.

Sunday, June 16
Trinity Sunday – Christianity (Western churches)
Marking the celebration of God manifested in three Persons: as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Martyrdom of Gurū Arjan Dev Ji – Sikhism [Nanakshahi tradition]
The first Sikh martyr and the fifth gurū, Arjan (1563 – 1606 C.E.) built the Harimandir (Temple of God) in the town of Amritsar with door facing all four directions, in order to emphasize that the Sikh way was open to all regardless of their socio-economic status.  He also compiled the Sikh scriptures known as the Gurū Granth Sahib.   

Wednesday, June 19
Enlightenment of Kwan Yin Bodhisattva – Buddhism [Mahāyāna Pure Land tradition]
A celebration of the enlightenment of the bodhisattva of compassion—an enlightened being who vows to attain final, supreme enlightenment in order to save all sentient beings from suffering.  In the Pure Land tradition, this bodhisattva frequently accompanies Amida Buddha in icons and other depictions.
New Church Day – Swedenborgian Christianity (Church of the New Jerusalem) 
Annual commemoration of the visionary document The True Christian Religion, written by Emanuel Swedenborg in 1770 C.E.

Friday, June 21  Summer solstice
Summer Feast – Native American spirituality
A day to honor the coming and going of the seasons, celebrated with songs, prayers, and story-telling.
Litha [Midsummer’s Eve] – Wicca
A celebration of the consummation of the sacred marriage, in which the male divine energy is poured out in the service of life.

Saturday, June 22
All Saints – Christianity (Eastern churches)
Celebrating the lives of those saints, known and unknown, whose prayers and exemplary lives have a positive influence on the lives and Christian faith of others.  Western Christian churches celebrate this festival on November 1st.

Sunday, June 23
Corpus Christi – Christianity [Roman Catholic]
Named for the Latin phrase “Body of Christ,” this festival is a time when Catholic Christians express their faith in Christ’s real presence in the elements of Holy Communion.

Monday, June 24
Rahmat – Bahá’í
The beginning of the sixth month of the Bahá’í year, Rahmat means “mercy.”
Birthday of St. John the Baptizer [Baptist] – Christianity (Eastern churches)
Celebrates the prophet who foretold of the coming of the Messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, whom he later baptized in the Jordan River.

Thursday, June 27
Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Joseph Smith – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Recalling the assassination of the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum while they were incarcerated in Carthage, Illinois, in 1844 C.E.

Friday, June 28
Sacred Heart – Christianity [Roman Catholic]
A devotional feast during which Catholic Christians reflect on God’s compassionate love, symbolized by Christ’s heart.

Saturday, June 29
Ghambar Maidyoshem begins – Zoroastrianism
A celebration of the creation of water, the sowing of the summer crops, and the harvesting of grain.  This festival continues through Wednesday, July 3rd.
Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul – Christianity (Western churches)
Celebrates the two apostles who preached the Christian gospel in Rome.  In Eastern churches this festival begins at sundown on June 24th.

Thank you

Thank you to ACPE Certified Educator 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

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