Major Religious Observances
Stanford has long supported faculty, students and staff in observing religious holidays of significance to them. In the complex process of creating the academic calendar, religious holy days are but one of many considerations. The university administration has always been helpful in facilitating communication and encouraging respect and understanding when there are academic calendar conflicts with religious holy days.
Most instructors will be cooperative and flexible regarding religious observance when they receive appropriate and early communication. Students should work with their instructors in advance. If a student is planning NOT to attend class or take an exam because of a religious holiday, they should convey this information to instructors at the beginning of the quarter so that the student will not be disadvantaged as a result of religious practice. Students and instructors should work together to plan for the absence and any class notes or assignements that might be missed.
The Office for Religious & Spiritual Life makes available to faculty, staff and students this list of significant religious holidays at the beginning of each academic year. For any questions or concerns, please contact the Office for Religious & Spiritual Life.
- Log in to your web calendar at webcal.stanford.edu
- On the left side of the screen, click on the “Add Calendar” link
- A window will pop up. On the left-hand side menu, click on “Add from Directory”
- You will be prompted to enter the calendar name. Type in “ORL CAL Religious Holidays” and select it from the drop-down menu
- The ORL CAL Religious Holidays calendar will now appear under your Other Calendars list for viewing
August 2021-June 2022
- 10 The First of Muḥarram Islam - The First of Muḥarram (first month of the Islamic year 1442 AH) celebrates the Ḥijra (migration) of Muḥammad and his followers in 622 CE, from Mecca to Medina, where they established the first Islamic community.
- 19 Ashura Islam - For Shi’ite Muslims ’Āshūrā’, which they call Muḥarram, has special importance as it commemorates the martyrdom of Ḥusain, Prophet Muḥammad’s grandson, in AH 61 (680 CE).
- 6 Erev Rosh Hashanah Jewish - Eve of Rosh Hashanah
- 7-8 Rosh Hashanah Jewish - New Year’s Day, year 5781, and anniversary of the creation of the world. The first of the Ten Days of Awe (or Repentance).
- 15 Kol Nidre Jewish - Eve of Yom Kippur
- 16 Yom Kippur Jewish - The Day of Atonement is the year's holiest day and a day of fasting. To re-establish oneness with God, Jews ask forgiveness and forgive others. Then can they confess their sins and ask God's forgiveness.
- 20 Erev Sukkot Jewish - Eve of Sukkot
- 21-27 Sukkot Jewish - A pilgrimage feast and a time of thanksgiving, it celebrates God's presence in creation and among the Jewish people.
- 27 Erev Shemini Atzeret Jewish - Eve of Shemini Atzeret
- 28 Shemini Atzeret Jewish - Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Assembly) is a separate holiday concluding Sukkot and the entire fall holiday season. It marks the beginning of winter in the land of Israel. At sundown: Erev Simchat Torah
- 29 Michaelmas Christian - Feast of St. Michael and all Angels
- 29 Simchat Torah Jewish - Simḥat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law) is the beginning of the synagogue's annual Torah reading cycle.
- 7 Navarati Hindu Begins- Hindu festival that spans nine nights (and ten days). It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere, the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). Celebrations include worshipping nine goddesses in nine days, stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism.
- 15 Navarati Hindu Ends
- 18 Mawlid al Nabi Islam (Sunni)- The anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muḥammad. Some Muslims mark this occasion by fasting or with parades, special prayers or conferences. Other Muslims may mark the occasion by dedicating more time to read the Qur‘an.
- 23 Mawlid al Nabi Islam (Shia)- Same observance as the Sunnis
- 31 Samhain Pagan - This day celebrates the Celtic New Year. The dying God returns to the womb of the Goddess in preparation for rebirth at Yule. The souls of those who have died during the turning of the past year’s wheel are bid farewell. It also marks the third and final harvest. Vegan Wiccans harvest nuts, the kernels of which are symbols of wisdom. As the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is thinnest at this time, ancestors can join the celebrations.
- 1El Día de Muertos - A holy day set aside to honor and remember loved ones who have died.
- 1 All Saints Day Christian - A day to honor Christian saints throughout the ages.
- 2 All Souls Day Christian - A day set aside for honoring the dead.
- 4 Diwali Hindu, Jain, Sikh - The Festival of Lights, Diwali (Deepavali) is dedicated to the Goddesses Kali in Bengal and Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth) in the rest of India. Diwali is associated with a story about the destruction of evil by Lord Vishnu in one of his many manifestations.
- 6 Birth of Báb Bahá’í - The birth anniversary of The Báb (Herald of the new age for Bahá’ís)
- 7 Birth of Baha’u’llah Bahá’í - The anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh the founder of the Bahá’í faith.
- 19 Birthday of Guru Nanak Sikh - Founder of the Sikh faith and first of the Ten Gurus, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 CE. He was an accomplished poet; 974 of his hymns are contained in the Sikh Scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
- 28 Advent (begins) Christian - Advent is the period of preparation for Christmas. The three faith-filled people who help Christians in their journey through Advent are the Prophet Isaiah who foretold the coming of the Messiah; John the Baptist who was his immediate forerunner; and, Mary the Mother of Jesus who carried the Savior of the world and expectantly awaited his birth.
- 28 Eve of Hanukkah Jewish
- 29 First Day of Hanukkah Jewish - The Festival of Lights (and the Feast of Dedication), commemorates the victory of Judah the Maccabee and religious freedom, and the re-dedication of the Temple in 165 BCE. It also celebrates the power of God and the faithfulness of Israel. (November 28-December 6)
- 6 Last Night of Hanukkah Jewish - The Festival of Lights
- 8 Bodhi Day Buddhist - Anniversary of the historical Buddha’s awakening.
- 12 Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe/Our Lady of Guadalupe Christian - Feast day celebrates the Virgin Mary – who is the Patron saint of Mexico – and commemorates her appearing to a man in Mexico City twice in 1531.
- 24 Christmas Eve Christian (Western)
- 25 Christmas Christian (Western) - Celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.
- 26-January 1 Kwanzaa Pan-African - Celebrated by people of African Descent from all over the world in recognition of their shared African heritage. The candles of a seven-branched Kinora representing seven values (Nguzo Saba) such as unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith, are successively lit over the seven days of the festival. The final day Faith or “Imani” a Harambee Feast is held either in community or intimately with family and friends.
- 6 Epiphany Christian - Known as the Feast of Theophany “appearance of God” in Orthodox churches, the Feast of Epiphany “appearance” or “manifestation” comes 12 days after Christmas and closes the Christmas season with a second festival of “manifesting” Jesus as the Son of God, the first being the Feast of the Nativity.
- 7 Christmas Christian (Eastern Orthodoxy) - Celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.
- 9 Guru Gobind Singh's Birthday Sikh - Festival that commemorates the birthday of the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. It is a celebration in which prayers for prosperity are offered.
- 13 Lohri Hindu, Sikh - Lohri - Used to mark the coldest day of the year, Lohri (LOH-ree) signifies the start of winter solstice and is followed by the longest night and shortest day of the year. Often referred to as the ‘Bonfire Festival’ or the ‘Festival of Farmers,’ Lohri is a time to express gratitude and socialize with festive songs and dances to mark the arrival of longer days. During Lohri, the significance of a fire represents energy, spiritual strength, and renewal.
- 14 Maghi/Makar Sankranti Hindu, Sikh - Marks the change from a decrease to an increase of the sun. This observance is twinned with Lohri (celebrated by people from the Punjab region of South Asia), which also marks the passing of the winter solstice. This solar holiday marks the transition of the sun into Capricorn (Makar) on its celestial path and honors Surya (the sun god) and Goddess Saraswati. This holiday is noted as the Hindu New Year for many, and is considered to be an auspicious time to pursue new goals and new endeavors. Charity on this day is also a common practice. Celebrations often involve flying kites—the spiritual metaphor explains that as one soars through life, they remain grounded by their connection to a higher power.
- 1 Lunar New Year Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist - The first day after the new (dark) moon is a religious and cultural festival celebrated by Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans of Buddhist and other backgrounds as New Year’s Day.
- 2 Candlemas Christian - Commemorating the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple when he was a baby..
- 1 Laylat al-Mi'rāj (or Isra and Mi'rāj) Islam - Commemorates the ascension (Mi'rāj) of the Prophet to heaven. Muslims may attend special prayer services at a mosque, or they may commemorate the holiday privately at home by telling the story to children or reciting special night-time prayers.
- 2 Ash Wednesday Christian - The beginning of Lent, the forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter (Western).
- 16 Erev Purim Jewish - Eve of Purim
- 17 Purim Jewish - Celebrates victory over an oppressive ruler, as related in the Book of Esther, which is read at this time.
- 21 Nowruz Bahá’í, Persian/Zoroastrian - Celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire (symbolic of Asha or righteousness). Zarathustra received his revelation on this day.
- 29 Holi Hindu - A religious spring festival celebrated by people throwing colourful powder and coloured water at each other. Holi is dedicated to Krishna or Kama.
- 2 Ramadan begins Islam - Month of fasting during which physically able Muslims do not eat or drink from the first sign of dawn until sunset. It is a time of self-examination and religious devotion.
- 10 Palm Sunday Christian - Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
- 14 Maundy Thursday Christian - Celebrates the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus.
- 15 Good Friday Christian - Commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e., his submission to death by crucifixion.
- 15 Eve of Passover Jewish
- 16-23 Passover Jewish - Celebrating the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
- 17 Easter (Western) Christian - Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.
- 14 Vaisakhi Sikh - on this day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru, removed the clerical system from Sikhism. Thus he reaffirmed the direct connection between Sikhs and the Divine.
- 21 1st Day of Ridvan Bahá’í - The festival commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration of His mission to His family and closest followers.
- 24 Easter Christian (Eastern Orthodoxy) - Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.
- 29 Laylat al-Qadr Islam - Also known as the ‘Night of Power,’ Laylat al-Qadr commemorates the first revelation of the Qur‘an (Islamic scriptures) to Prophet Muḥammad in 610 CE.
- 29 9th Day of Ridván Bahá’í - Commemoration of when Bahá’u’lláh’s family joined Him at the garden of Riḍván in Baghdad.
- 2 12th Day of Ridvan Bahá’í - Concludes the important Bahá’í festival of Ridvan
- 2 Ramadan ends Islam
- 3 Eid al-Fitr Islam - One of the two most important Islamic celebrations (the other occurs after the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca). People dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children, and enjoy visits with friends and family.
- 23 Declaration of The Bab Bahá’í - Commemorates the day in 1844 on which He announced His identity as The Báb, or Gate, the Herald of the new age.
- 26 Ascension Day Christian (W) - The anniversary of Jesus’ ascension into heaven and enthronement as universal sovereign. It comes forty days after Easter.
- 29 Ascension of Baha'u'llah Bahá’í - Marks the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Bahá‘í faith.
- 4 Erev Shavuot Jewish - Eve of Shavuot
- 5-6 Shavuot Jewish - Marks the conclusion of the period of seven weeks that follows Passover. Commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Israelites and the completion of God’s purpose to create a special people.
- 5 Pentecost Christian (W) - Commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus following his ascension.
- 12 Trinity Sunday Christian - Celebration of the Christian understanding of God in Three Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
- 16 Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji Sikh - The first Sikh Martyr and the fifth Guru, Sikhs remember Guru Arjan Dev Ji for contributing to and compiling the Sikh Scriptures. He built the Harimandir Sahib (Home of the Divine) in which Sikhs could meet to learn, in the town of Amritsar (Pool of Nectar). To emphasize that the Sikh way was open to all, regardless of caste, he constructed the Gurdwara with doors facing all four directions.