Cheesefare Sunday (Orthodox Christianity)
Also known as the "Sunday of Forgiveness," this day often reflects on Adam and Eve and their exile from the Garden of Eden, emphasizing the human fall into sin and separation from God. This reminder prepares Orthodox Christians for the intense fasting of Lent.
Clean Monday (Eastern Christianity)
The beginning of Great Lent for Eastern Christian churches, which starts 40 days before Orthodox Easter (Pascha), counting Sundays. On this day, referred to as "Clean Monday," Orthodox Christians leave behind sinful attitudes and certain foods as they prepare for the Great Lent. This is a seven-week period of fasting to prepare for Orthodox Easter, the greatest feast of the year.
Fast of Ala (Baha'i)
The Baha'i calendar is comprised of 19 months of 19 days each. The fast of Ala occurs during the last month of the Baha'i year, when Baha'is fast from sun up to sun down. All healthy individuals between the ages of 15 and 70 participate in the fast, which is done in spiritual preparation for the New Year, Naw Ruz.
Orthodox Sunday (Orthodox Christianity)
Celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent, Orthodox Sunday recognizes the victory and restoration of icons for use in church services and private devotional life.
Magha Puja (Buddhism)
Also known as Sangha Day, it commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 disciples, completely enlightened monks, in the historical Buddha's presence.
Purim is a Jewish festival, beginning at sundown, that recognizes the deliverance of the Persian Jews from destruction during the reign of King Ahasuerus. This story, recorded in the book of Esther, is read aloud in Synagogues on Purim, and adults and children often wear costumes commemorating the characters.
A spring festival in India and Nepal dedicated to the god of pleasure, also known as the festival of colors or the festival of sharing love. Holi is a celebration of fertility, brotherhood, and the triumph of good over evil. Festivities surrounding Holi can lasts up to sixteen days. During the main day of celebration, people throw colored water or powder at each other until they are coated and indistinguishable from their neighbors. This symbolizes unity and brotherhood, as everyone looks the same coated in colors, and differences such as race, sex, class, and creed are forgotten. Bonfires are lit to represent the destruction of evil, recalling the legend of Prahlad miraculously escaping from the fire of the demoness Holika.
Hola Mohalla (Sikh)
An annual event which is a martial arts parade historically coinciding with Holi, the Hindu festival of colors. Celebrations related to Holla Mohalla may be held in various locations over several weekends preceding the actual date of the holiday. A week-long celebration that often coincides with the Sikh New Year, Hola Mohalla was started by Guru Gobind Singh as a day of mock battles and poetry. Today, those who celebrate the festival often camp out, watch demonstrations of fighting and bravery, and listen to music and poetry.
Birthday of L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology)
Born in 1911, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was a science fiction writer who founded the Church of Scientology in 1953, in Camden, New Jersey. Hubbard originally developed a self-help system called Dianetics in 1950, and these ideas grew into doctrines and rituals that became Scientology, an applied religious philosophy. Today, followers of the Church of Scientology recognize his birthday.
Ghambar Hamaspathmaeden (Zoroastrianism)
This is the last of the six Ghambar festivals in the Zoroastrian calendar. Ghambars are joyous occasions when communities gather to share a feast. Food is contributed anonymously, and participants give according to their means and ability to contribute. This particular five-day Ghambar celebrates the creation of humans and is a time to remember souls who have passed away.
St. Patrick’s Day (Christianity)
St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, was credited for spreading Christianity in Ireland and abolishing pagan practices in the fourth century. The symbol of the shamrock is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, as St. Patrick used the three leaves to explain the mystery of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
Higan, or Ohigan, is celebrated twice a year, during the spring and fall equinoxes. This is an important date for Jodo Shinshu Buddhists in particular. On this date, the day and night are the same length, symbolizing equality and harmony. Buddha appears on earth during this week to save stray souls, thus many Buddhists visit cemeteries and pay respects to their ancestors.
Saint Joseph's Day (Christianity)
This feast day celebrates Saint Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. One Italian tradition recalls a draught, where the peasants prayed to St. Joseph for rain. When the rains came, crops were planted and then a large harvest feast was given in St. Joseph's honor. Some cultures celebrate this day by creating St. Joseph Tables: a table full of elaborate foods, though all free of meat, as this day typically falls during the fasting period of Lent.
Ostara celebrates the coming of spring, the time when the days are getting longer. It is a time to celebrate the abundance of nature and the abundance of life, and to plant crops.
Naw Ruz and feast day Bahá (Baha’i)
Similar to Nowruz, Naw Ruz is the celebration of the New Year as adopted by Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith. The equinox is believed to be a symbol of the manifestations of God, and springtime to be the carrier of new life and new beginnings.
Nowruz is the celebration of the Iranian New Year and marks the first day of spring. On this day, Persian families wear new clothing, visit each other’s homes, give gifts, and act kindly, as it is said that when people act well on Nowruz, it will affect them positively for the entire year. Likewise, any fights or ill-temper on Nowruz will result in a poor year.
March 22 (Begins at sundown on the 21st)
Lailat al-Miraj (Islam)
Lailat al-Miraj, also known as Shab-e-Miraj in Iran, Pakistan, and India, or Miraç Kandili in Turkish, is the Muslim festival celebrating the “night journey” (isra) and “ascension” (mi'raj) of Muhammad, when he went from Mecca to Al-Haram al-Sharif (also known as the Temple Mount) and was then raised to heaven (Jannah), met with the prophets and eventually with God. It is celebrated on the 27th day of the month Rajab in the Islamic calendar. From this journey, Muslims believe, the command for five daily prayers (Salat) was given.
Feast of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary (Christianity)
This day commemorates when the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would bear a child, Jesus. The feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary is celebrated with prayers and church services.
Hindu New Year / Ugadi (Hinduism)
Ugadi is the Hindu New Year, often celebrated with a ritual bath, prayers, and the eating of pachhadi: six flavors that represent six different life experiences. There’s bitter, tang, sour, spice, sweet, and salty, to represent sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise.
March 25-April 2
Ramayana Week (Hinduism)
Commencing with the Hindu New Year, Ramayana Week celebrates the appearance of Sri Ram, a Hindu Lord. Hindus worship Sri Ram by fasting, singing songs and dancing, and reading from the Ramayana text.
The Zoroastrian celebration of the birth of Zoroaster, the founder of the Zoroastrianism religion. The holiday is specifically celebrated in India and Iran, immediately following the Persian new year, Nowrúz. Khordad Sal is the birthday celebration of Prophet Zarathustra, the founder of Zoroastrianism. Considered to be one of the most important holidays on the Zoroastrian calendar, the day is spent feasting, wearing new clothes, displaying fresh flowers and gathering in fire temples for prayers.