Religious Observances Calendar

This calendar of major religious observances is intended to indicate significant religious observances of traditions currently represented in the Lawrence community. As a diverse and welcoming community, we hope that you will find this to be a helpful resource in learning about and supporting religious observances and practices of the Lawrence Community, which include observances originating from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Paganism, among others.

If you wish to make suggestions regarding the recognition of a religious holiday or a religious tradition, contact 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.

2023-2024 Academic Year (beginning August)

Rosh Hashanah (Judaism) - September 15-17
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.

Yom Kippur (Judaism) - September 24-25
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) - September 29-October 6
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.

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) Hindu Lunar Calendar - November 12
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 – December 3-24 (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.

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 14
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 1-19
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.

Purim (Judaism) - March 23 - 24
Purim (held on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar — usually March or April) commemorates the day Esther, Queen of Persia, saved the Jewish people from execution by Haman, the advisor to the Persian king. Esther bravely exposed her previously hidden Jewish heritage to her husband the king and asked him to save her people, which he did.

Holi (Hinduism) March 25
Sometimes called a 'festival of love,' Holi is a day to forget your resentments and bad feelings toward others, and express your love for life and humanity. It begins in the evening, Holika Dahan (lighting of the bonfires), and in the daytime the celebration is called Dhuleti.

Good Friday (Christian-Catholic/Protestant) - March 29
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) - March 31
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.

Ramadan (Islam) - March 10-April 9
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.

Eid al-Fitr – last day of fasting (Islam) - April 9-10
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.

Passover (Judaism) - April 22-30
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.

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.