2020-2021 Religious Observances Calendar

Following is a calendar of religious holidays including the faith tradition in which it is celebrated. While this list is not completely comprehensive, it indicates the major holidays of religious faiths currently represented in the Lawrence community. These include Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, among others. If you wish to make suggestions regarding the recognition of a religious holiday or a religious faith, contact Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life.

*Note: all Jewish and Muslim observances begin at sundown on the evening of the first date given.

2020-2021 Academic Year (beginning August)


Sri Krishna Jayanti (Hinduism) - August 11
Observes the birth of the Hindu god Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the God Vishnu.  Hindu students should not have any interruption to the regular academic schedule.

*Ashura (Islam)  August 28-29
This is the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar.  It marks the mourning of Hussein ibn Ali and calls for remembrance and atonement.

*Rosh Hashanah (Judaism) September 18-20
Expect Jewish students to attend synagogue locally on the evening of the first full day and the morning and possibly afternoon of the second day.  The holiday is traditionally two days not one; some students may choose to go home for the weekend.  This is considered a major holiday on which ordinary work is not pursued, although most Jewish students at Lawrence will go about their ordinary business after formal worship is concluded.

Shūbun no Hi (Shinto) - September 22
The Autumn memorial falls on the Autumnal equinox.  This observance is in the center of the time when Japanese families visit the family graves and offer respect through flowers, offerings, and cleaning.  Incense is often lit to comfort the spirits of the ancestors.  Lawrence students will not experience any interruption of their academic activities.

*Yom Kippur (Judaism) September 27-28
The holiest day of the year and a solemn day; a complete fast from before sundown on the first evening until dark on the second evening. Expect Jewish students to need time for a pre-holiday meal and then go to synagogue locally in the evening.  More will attend this service than any other during the year.  Expect many also to attend local synagogue for morning, afternoon, and concluding/evening services on the second evening, and then to break the fast after dark, either at the congregation’s communal meal or together with friends.  Although Jewish students at Lawrence are generally not strictly observant in a traditional sense, most will deeply resent having academic or extra-curricular obligations on this day, i.e., from late afternoon on the first evening through the night of the second evening.

Sukkot (Judaism)  October 2-9
Although the first day and last day are major holidays, i.e., days on which ordinary work is not to be pursued, expect Jewish students at Lawrence only to gather for a festival evening service and meal on the weekend. 

Birth Anniversary of The Bab/ Bahá'u'lláh  (Baha’i)  October 21-22
Observance of the birth date of the founder of the Baha’I faith.  Baha students may ask to suspend work on this day.

*Ayambil Oli  (Jainism) October 23-31
During this time, devout Jains will undertake a special fast.  Students observing this fast will eat only specially prepared foods once a day.

Samhain (Pagan)  October 31-November 1
This festival is the observance of the Celtic New Year beginning at sundown.  This is a time of harvest celebrations and rituals.  Students should not have interruptions to their academic work.

*Diwali (Hinduism)  November 14
This festival of lights will most likely be celebrated in the evening and should not interfere with any academic commitments, unless there is an evening class scheduled on this day

*Advent begins – Dec. 1-24 (Christianity)
This season in the Christian calendar observes the period of preparation leading up to the celebration of Christmas.  Students should not have any conflicts with the academic responsibilities.

Buddha’s Enlightenment Day / Bohdi Day (Buddhism) - December 8
This is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment
Christmas (Christian-Catholic/Protestant) - December 25
Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ

Christmas (Eastern Orthodox Christian)  January 7
Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Imbolc (Pagan)   February 1
Celebrated as a fire festival and associated with fertility, this is a midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox in March.

Ash Wednesday (Christian-Catholic/Protestant)  February 17
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, the forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance, and self-denial that precedes Easter (Western Churches).  Students may choose to fast, but the observance should not impact the normal academic day.  On-campus worship service may take place that evening

The month of ‘Alá’  (Baha’i)  March 1-20
a nineteen-day period each year during which adult Bahá’ís fast from sunrise to sunset each day. This period immediately precedes the Bahá’í new year. It is a time of prayer, meditation, and spiritual rejuvenation.

Ostara (Pagan)  March 20
Ostara is the Pagan celebration of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.  The day and the night are the same length on this day when spring begins according to the solar calendar

Naw Ruz (Baha’i) March 21
Naw-Ruz (`New Day') is the Bahá'í and Iranian new year, which occurs on the date of the vernal equinox, about 21 March. It is one of the nine Bahá'í holy days on which work is suspended. Naw-Ruz is celebrated rather like the Christian Easter, with many symbols indicating spring and renewal

Passover-(Judaism)  March 27 - April 4
Pesach (Passover):  Begins at sundown on the first day, and ends at dark on the final day.  The major celebration for Lawrence students will be the holiday meal called the Seder, held by more traditional Jews on both the first and second evenings of Passover and by liberal Jews only on the first night.  The one aspect of Passover observance that our students generally do adhere to is refraining from eating products made from leavened grain (bread, cereal, noodles, beer, etc.) during the seven or eight days of the holiday’s duration.

Palm Sunday (Christian-Catholic/Protestant)  March 28
Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the start of Holy Week that culminates in Easter.

Holy Thursday (Christian-Catholic/Protestant)  April 1
Also called Maundy Thursday, celebrates the institution of the Lord's Supper by Jesus.  Many Christians will attend worship services during the evening.

Good Friday (Christian-Catholic/Protestant)  April 2
Commemorates the Passion of Jesus and his submission to death by crucifixion.  Some students may request time to attend special worship services during the day.

Easter (Christian-Catholic/Protestant)  April 4
Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.  It is the oldest and most important festival in the Christian year and initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost.  Many Christian students will go home if possible for this observance. 

Vesak Day (Buddhism-Southeast Asia) April 8
Vesak Day is a Buddhist holiday that celebrates the birth of its founder. In Theravada countries it is observed in the 5th or 6th lunar month.  In some regions, it is sometimes informally called "Buddha's Birthday" and commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha.

Ramadan (Islam)  April 12-May 11
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to sunset. Ramadan fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Vaisakhi (Sikh)  April 14
Celebrates the foundation of Sikhism in 1699.  Vaisakhi is also a harvest festival in the Punjab region of India.

Palm Sunday (Eastern Orthodox Christian) April 25 
Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the start of Holy Week that culminates in Easter.

Holy Friday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)  April 30
Commemorates the Passion of Jesus and his submission to death by crucifixion.  Some students may request time to attend special worship services during the day.

Beltane (Pagan)  May 1
Celebration of the midway point of the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. One of the 4 quarter day festivals, Beltane is important in the turning of the wheel of the year.  As this day is just prior to reading period, Lawrence Pagan students may be making preparations for a fire festival.

Pascha (Easter) (Eastern Orthodox Christian)  May 2
See description above. 

Buddha’s Birthday (Buddhism)  May 8
Celebrated annually on this day in Japanese culture.

Eid al-Fitr – last day of fasting (Islam) May 12
This 'feast of breaking the fast' is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan and the last day of fasting.

Id al-Adha (Islam)  July 31
The Festival of the Sacrifice is the concluding act of pilgrimage and is observed even by Muslims who are not on pilgrimage.  As Abraham offered his son, Ishmael, to God, so the Muslim community offers sheep, goats, and camels.  The food is distributed to the poor in the community.  Lawrence  students will often observe the day with special prayers, and a feast with the Muslim community.