Religious Holy Days

October 2019 

For Native Americans, October marks the season of the Cherokee Green Corn Ceremony and the season of Xlaaw, the season to put up food for the coming winter.


Wednesday, October 2

  • Jashan-e Mehregan – Zoroastrianism

A celebratory festival of friendship, righteousness and justice.

Friday, October 4

  • Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi – Christianity

A celebration of the patron saint of animals and ecology and the founder of the Franciscan Roman Catholic religious order, known for its ethic of simplicity and service.  Many Christians mark this festival by bringing their animal companions to churches for a blessing.

Saturday, October 5

  • Bodhidharma Memorial – Buddhism

This day celebrates the monk (5th – 6th centuries C.E.) who emigrated from India and is credited with transmitting Ch’an [Zen] Buddhism to China. 

  • 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.

Sunday, October 6

  • World Communion Sunday – Christianity

Tuesday, October 8

  • 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.

  • 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.

Saturday, October 12

  • Ghambar Ayathrem – Zoroastrianism [through Wednesday, October 16]

This festival celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of winter crops, and herds’ return from pasture. 

Sunday, October 20

  • Installation of the Gurū Granth Sahib – Sikhism

This date in the Nanakshahi tradition celebrates the transmission of the gurūship to the Holy Scriptures (the Gurū Granth Sahib Ji) by the tenth gurū, Gobind Singh Ji.  

  • Shemini Atzeret [Eighth Day of Assembly] – Judaism

This eighth day of Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] features prayers for rain and a good harvest in the coming year.  It begins at sundown.

Monday, October 21

  • Simchat Torah – Judaism

This festival, also known as “Rejoicing with the Law,” marks the end of Sukkot and the completion of the Torah reading cycle with the beginning of reading the first book again.  Jews celebrate this day by singing, dancing, and marching around the synagogue or temple with Torah scrolls.  This festival begins at sundown.

Thursday, October 24

  • United Nations Day
  • Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Gurū Tegh Bahadur Ji – Sikhism

This day commemorates the martyrdom of the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurūs (1621-1675 C.E.).  He is remembered for defending the Sikh faith, as well as the rights of Hindus and the cause of religious liberty.  

Sunday, October 27

  • Diwali (Deepavali) – Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism

The festival of lights and Hinduism’s most popular festival.  It is dedicated to the Goddess Kali in Bengal and to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in the rest of India.  Diwali is also associated with stories of the destruction of evil by the god Vishnu in one of his many forms, as well as with the coronation of Sri Rama.  Sweets and gifts are exchanged, and it is a time for cleaning and preparing for the future.  This festival is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains, with this day bearing additional names and significance as shown immediately below.

  • Bandi Chhor Divas – Sikhism

Called “the day of the prisoner’s release,” this festival marks the return of the sixth gurū, Sri Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him to the holy city of Amritsar after being released from detention in 1619 C.E.

  • Mahavira Nirvana – Jainism

On this day Jains celebrate that the soul of Lord Mahavir (6th century B.C.E.), the 24th Tirthankara, attained nirvana and release from the cycle of rebirth [moksha].

Monday, October 28

  • Atmasiddhi Rachna Divas (Creation Day) – Jainism

On this day Jains celebrate that, in 1896, the poet Shrimad Rajchandra-ji (who was a spiritual guide for Mohandas Gandhi) wrote the legendary treatise Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra, which explains the quintessence of Jainism.

Tuesday, October 29

  • Birth of the Báb — Bahá’í

Anniversary of the birth of the Báb, one of the twin Prophet founders of the Bahá’í faith, in 1819 C.E.  His nineteen disciples, known as Letters of the Living, taught his religion throughout 19th century Persia.  His shrine is located in Haifa, Israel.  Bahá’ís suspend work on this day.

Wednesday, October 30

  • Birth of the Bahá’u’lláh — Bahá’í

Anniversary of the birth of the Bahá’u’lláh (“Glory of God”), the founder of the Bahá’í faith, in Tehran, Persia [modern-day Iran], in 1817 C.E.  Devout followers suspend work on this day; some begin their observance of the day on the previous day’s sundown.

Thursday, October 31  Halloween

  • Reformation Day – Christianity [Protestant churches]

This day commemorates October 31, 1517 C.E., when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, eventually leading to the Protestant Reformation in Europe.  Most Protestant Christian churches will mark this on Sunday, October 27th.

  • Samhain – Wicca

Celebration of the Celtic New Year.  The dying God returns to the womb of the Goddess in preparation for rebirth at Yule.  The souls of ancestors and those who have died during the turning of the past year’s wheel are remembered.  Vegan Wiccans harvest nuts, the kernels of which symbolize wisdom.   

November 2019 

Observing Native American Heritage Month

For Native Americans, November marks Gwilatkw, the blanket season of the first snow, in which the Earth covers herself for her winter sleep.

Friday, November 1
All Saints Day – Christianity [Western churches]
A commemoration of the lives of people, known and unknown, whose holiness and compassion toward others represent the best Christian virtues.  In some Christian traditions, the following day is reserved for intercessions for the dead and is known as All Souls’ Day.  Latino/a/x people in North and Central America mark these days in connection with celebrations of Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

Saturday, November 2
Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I – Rastafari
Because Rastafarians recognize Haile Selassie (born Ras Tafari Makonnen in 1892; died in 1975) as an incarnation of God and a messiah who will lead the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora to freedom, peace, and prosperity, his coronation day as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 is remembered as a major festival.

Monday, November 4
Qudrat – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the thirteenth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “power.”

Friday, November 8
Mawlid al-Nabi – Islam
The anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca in ca. 570 C.E., observed by Sunni Muslims beginning at sundown.  Shi’a Muslims celebrate five days later, on November 13th.

Tuesday, November 12
Gurū Nanak’s Birthday – Sikhism
Sikhs commonly celebrate the birthday of their founder, Gurū Nanak Dev Ji, on the full moon day of Kartik, even though the guru’s biographers record his birth on April 15, 1469 C.E.  A poet and mystic, Guru Nanak wrote 974 hymns that are included in the Sikh scriptures, known as the Gurū Granth Sahib. 

Thursday, November 14  
The Advent (or Nativity) Fast – Christianity (Eastern churches)
The beginning of a forty-day vegetarian fast in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas) commences at sundown.  For Orthodox Christians who follow the old calendar, this fast begins two weeks later.

Sunday, November 17 date has not been finalized at press time
Lokasha Jayanti – Jainism
Celebrating the births of revered and scholarly persons, such as the 15th century reformer Lonka Saha, whose opposition to temple worship and the use of images led to the founding of the Sthanakavasi sect.

Thursday, November 21
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Christianity (Catholic churches)

Entry of the Mother of God (Theotokos) into the Temple – Christianity (Eastern churches)
This day commemorates the entrance of the three-year-old Virgin Mary into the temple at Jerusalem to receive an education and begin her life of absolute dedication to God.  According to some apocryphal writings, Mary also entered the Temple’s Holy of Holies on this occasion, thus becoming the first and only woman ever to enter that sacred space.

Saturday, November 23
Qawl – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the fourteenth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “speech.”

Sunday, November 24  
Christ the King Sunday – Christianity 
This feast day commemorates Jesus’ teaching that he will return at the end of time to judge humanity.  In the Western Christian liturgical year, this is the last Sunday; the following Sunday (i.e., the first Sunday of Advent) marks the beginning of a new year.

Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji – Sikhism
This day commemorates the martyrdom of the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurus (1621-1675 C.E.).  He is remembered for defending the Sikh faith, as well as the rights of Hindus and the cause of religious liberty.   

Tuesday, November 26
Day of the Covenant – Bahá’í 
A celebration of the appointment of ’Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of Bahá’u’lláh, as the Center of the Covenant in New York City in 1912 C.E.  Devout followers begin their remembrance the preceding evening and do not suspend work on this day.  

Thursday, November 28
Thanksgiving Day
This national holiday was first officially observed after a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, in 1863 C.E.  Establishing the fourth Thursday of November for the observance, Lincoln wrote that “[The blessings enjoyed in this country] are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

Ascension of ’Abdu’l-Bahá – Bahá’í 
The commemoration of the death of the Center of the Covenant in Haifa, Palestine, in 1921 C.E.  Devout followers begin their remembrance the preceding evening and are allowed to work on this day.

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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