Skip to main content

Religious and Spiritual Observances Calendar: Spring (January - May)

This guide is intended as an educational resource by raising awareness of the diverse religious and spiritual observances celebrated by members of the University of South Dakota community that may impact one's school or work responsibilities.

Holidays and Recommended Accommodations

 

 

 

Date(s) Observed

JANUARY

 

Gantan-sai (Shinto)
Holiday with significant work restriction


Gantan-sai is the annual New Year festival of the Shinto religion.

General Practices: Practitioners pray for inner renewal, prosperity, and health, as well as visiting shrines and visiting friends and family.  

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date (work holiday)

·          Jan. 1, 2020

           Jan. 1, 2021

·        

Epiphany / Twelfth Night / Three Kings Day (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

This date is also known as Befana Day; commemorates the revelation of God through Jesus Christ and marks the time the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem and presented gifts to the baby Jesus.

General Practices: Prayer, festive meals, offerings, gifts

·          Jan. 6, 2020

           Jan. 6, 2021

·        

Christmas (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
Holiday with significant work restriction


Christmas is an annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah whose message and self-sacrifice began the Christian religion.

General Practices: Many celebrate this holiday by attending church services, holding celebratory meals, and visiting family.

Date details: Eastern Orthodox Christmas is determined by the Julian calendar which regulates ceremonial cycle of the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.

Recommended Accommodations: Because this holiday typically falls during winter break, academic accommodations may not be required. However many Eastern Orthodox employees will probably request this day off.

·         Jan. 7, 2020

          Jan. 7, 2021

·       

Chinese New Year (Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist)
Holiday with significant work restriction


This is the most important of traditional Chinese holidays.

General Practices: Families gather together to spend the evening preparing boiled dumplings and festive meals and giving of money to children in red envelopes.

Date details: Corresponds to the New Moon in Aquarius, which can fall from late January to mid-February

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on this date. Many Chinese employees will probably request this day off.

          Jan. 25, 2020

          Feb. 12, 2021

FEBRUARY

 

Imbolc / Candlemas (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Also referred to as the Feast of Pan, Feast of Torches, Feast of Waxing Lights, and Oimele. Celebrates the coming of spring and recovery of the Earth Goddess after giving birth to the Sun God at Yule. For many traditions, a time for initiations, re-dedication and pledges for the coming year. One of the four "greater Sabbats."

General Practices: Activities might include making candles, reading poetry and telling stories.

·         Feb. 1-2, 2020

          Feb. 1-2, 2021

·        

Setsubum-sai (Shinto)

Setsubum-sai marks the beginning of spring, and is known as the “bean-throwing festival. The faithful scatter roasted beans to bring good luck to the new season.

·         Feb. 3, 2020

          Feb. 3, 2021

·        

Magha Puja Day (Buddhist)

Magha Puja Day commemorates an important event in the life of the Buddha, in which the four disciples traveled to join the Buddha.

·         Feb. 10, 2020

     

·        

Ash Wednesday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

This is the first day of Lent, the period of forty days before Easter in which many Christians sacrifice ordinary pleasures to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice.

General Practices: On this day, there are special church services, and the faithful wear a cross of ashes marked on foreheads. Most Christians abstain from meat on this day.

Recommended Accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested—prohibitions include animal products.

          Feb. 26, 2020

          Feb. 17, 2021

MARCH

 

Purim (Jewish)

Purim commemorates the time when the Jews were living in Persia and were saved by the courage of a young Jewish woman called Esther.

General Practices: Many Jews hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, dressing in costumes, and read the Book of Esther. Triangular, fruit-filled pastries are eaten in opposition to the villain Haman, who wore a three-cornered hat.

Recommended Accommodations: Purim is not subject to the restrictions on work that affect some other holidays;  however, some sources indicate that Jews should not go about their ordinary business at Purim out of respect for the festival. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (kosher restrictions apply).

·         March 9-10, 2020

·         Feb. 26-27, 2021

Holi (Hindu)

Also known as the “Festival of Colors,” this holiday can be traced to Hindu scriptures commemorating good over evil. This date is also a celebration of the colorful spring and a farewell to the dull winter.

General Practices: Hindus often sprinkle colored water and powder on others and celebrate with bonfires and lights, signifying victory of good over evil.

Date details: Celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar moon in late February or early March.

           March 9-10, 2020

          March 28-29, 2021

          March 17-18, 2022

Ostara / Alban Eilir / Spring Equinox (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

Also known as Eostre. Regarded as a time of fertility and conception. In some Wiccan traditions, it is marked as the time when the Goddess conceives the God's child, which will be born at the winter solstice. One of eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: Lighting fires to commemorate the return of light in the spring and to honor the God and Goddess. Coloring eggs as a way of honoring fertility is also practiced.

·         March 19, 2020

          March 20, 2021

          

·        

Naw Ruz (Baha’i)

This is the Baha’i New Year, a traditional celebration in Iran adopted as a holy day associated with Baha’i. It is a celebration of spring and new life.

General Practices: Festive music dancing, prayers, meetings, meals

·         March 19-20, 2020         

APRIL

 

Palm Sunday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant / Eastern Orthodox Christianity)

A commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as crowds lined his path with palm fronds

General Practices: Prayer, distribution of palm leaves commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion.

         April 5, 2020

         March 28, 2021

Pesach / Passover (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction


Pesach is a week-long observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II (one of three pilgrimage festivals).

General Practices: Family gatherings, ritualized meals called Seders, reading of the Haggadah, lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the last night of Passover.

Date details: Begins at sundown of preceding day.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first two and last two days of the holiday, provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply—the use of leavening is prohibited so, for example, matzah is eaten in place of bread.)

         April 8-16, 2020

        March 27 - 3, 2021

 

Buddha Day / Visakha Puja (Buddhist)

This holiday is traditionally known as Buddha’s birthday. It is the major Buddhist festival, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.

General Practices: Buddhists often decorate their homes and visit their local temples. Observers are encouraged to refrain from slaughtering and to avoid eating meat on this date.

Recommended Accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested, and offer vegetarian options when planning menus for events on this date.

         April 8, 2020

         April 8, 2021

Maundy Thursday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

Thursday before Easter, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles.

General Practices: Prayer, Communion (Eucharist), meals, and foot-washing ceremonies among some Christian denominations

Date details: Always falls on the Thursday before Easter Sunday.

          April 9, 2020

Good Friday (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)

Friday before Easter, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; among some sects of Christianity and in many countries marks a day of fasting.

General Practices: Prayer, fasting, and noon or afternoon services in some Christian denominations.

Date details: Always falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Recommended Accommodations: Provide food accommodation as requested—meat (fish is not considered meat) is prohibited during meals for some.

        April 10, 2020

        April 1, 2021 

Holy Friday / Good Friday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)

Friday before Easter, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; among some sects of Christianity and in many countries marks a day of fasting.

General Practices: Prayer, fasting, confession, and church services as well as the wrapping or dying of eggs (often red) in preparation for Easter Sunday.

Date details: Orthodox Good Friday is determined by the Julian calendar which regulates ceremonial cycle of the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the date.

         April 10, 2020

         April 30, 2021

 

Easter (Christian / Roman Catholic and Protestant)
Holiday with significant work restriction


Annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

General Practices: Celebratory meals, family gatherings, distribution of colored eggs, baskets and chocolate bunnies. It is a celebration of renewal.

Date details: Easter Sunday is determined by the Gregorian calendar (Gregorian calendar regulates ceremonial cycle of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches).

        April 12, 2020

        April 4, 2021 

 

Vaisakhi (Sikh)

Vaisakhi is the Sikh new year festival and commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born. Vaisakhi is also a long-established harvest festival.

General Practices: There are often parades, dancing, and singing throughout the day. These celebrations involve music, singing, and chanting of scriptures and hymns.

         April 13, 2020

         April 13, 2021 

         April 14, 2022

Pascha / Easter (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
Holiday with significant work restriction


Annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

General Practices: Celebratory meals, family gatherings, distribution of colored eggs and baskets of breads, meats, eggs, cheeses and other foods. It is a celebration of renewal.

Date details: Easter Sunday is determined by the Julian calendar which regulates ceremonial cycle of the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.

         April 19, 2020· 

         May 2, 2021

Ramadan (Islamic)

Ramadan is an occasion to focus on faith through fasting and prayer, and is one of the most important Muslim holidays. Ramadan is notable because the Qur’an was first revealed during this month, and Muslims see the Qur’an as the ultimate form of guidance for mankind. The night that the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad is called Lailat ul Oadr, and standing in prayer this one night is thought to eclipse months of worship.

General Practices: Fasting is required during the entire month of Ramadan. Muslims refrain from food and beverages during the daylight hours, and smoking and sexual relations are forbidden. Worshipers break the fasting each night with prayer, reading of the Qu’ran, and a meal called the iftar. In addition, many Muslims also attend night prayers at Mosques. Muslims also believe that their good actions bring a greater reward during this month than any other time of the year, so almost all Muslims try to give up bad habits during Ramadan.

Date Details: Dates are determined by the lunar calendar. Lunar calendars can vary based on region and practice.  The observed date marks the beginning of a 30 day observation.

Recommended Accommodations: If possible, avoid scheduling major academic deadlines during this time. Be sensitive to the fact that students and employees celebrating Ramadan will be fasting during the day (continuously for 30 days) and will likely have less stamina as a result. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

          April 23-May 23, 2020

MAY

 

Beltane (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid)

The fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

General Practices: Jumping the balefire,dancing the MayPole.

·         May 1, 2020

          May 1, 2021

·        

Yom HaSho’ah (Jewish)

Holocaust Remembrance Day; a day to remember the lives and names of Jewish victims and activists of the Holocaust.

General Practices: Ceremonies or events to remember Holocaust victims who died during World War II; activities may include lighting memorial candles and reciting the Kaddish, which is a prayer for the departed.

Date details: Begins at sundown on the preceding day.

Recommended Accommodations: This is not a work holiday—academics and work are permitted. Provide food accommodation as requested (kosher restrictions apply).

·         April 20-21, 2020

          April 8-9, 2021

·        

Eid al-Fitr (Islamic)
Holiday with significant work restriction


Eid al-Fitr means "break the fast", and is the last day of Ramadan, marking the end of a month of fasting.

General Practices: Muslims often pray, exchange gifts, give money to children, feast, and celebrate with friends and family.

Date Details: Dates are determined by the lunar calendar. Lunar calendars can vary based on region and practice. Eid al Fitr is a three day celebration and begins at sundown on the preceding day.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on this date. Employees will likely ask to take a vacation day on this day, and that request should be granted if at all possible.  If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).

           May 23-24, 2020

Shavuot (Jewish)
Holiday with significant work restriction


Commemorates receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai (two of three pilgrimage festivals)

General Practices: Evening of devotional programs and studying the Torah, lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the second night of Shavuot.

Date details: Begins at sundown on the preceding day.

Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first two and last two days of the holiday. Provide food accommodation as requested.  (Kosher restrictions apply—although it is customary to eat dairy).

·         May 28-30, 2020

          May 12-13, 2021

·        

Ascension of the Baha’ullah (Baha’i)

Commemorates the death of the founder of the Baha’i faith; Baha’llah died on May 29, 1892.

General Practices: Devotional programs and reading from the scriptures

·         May 29, 2020

          

·        

 

 

 

 

 

 

Points to Remember

This guide is intended as an educational resource by including dates and practices of the diverse religious and spiritual observations celebrated by members of the University of South Dakota community that may impact one's school or work responsibilities. Possible academic and food accommodations are include for informational purposes, as well. We hope that the information will be valuable to those planning classroom activities and other academic co-curricular events. 

Points to Remember

  • Dates are assembled from several calendars and organized by semester: summer, fall, spring. Lunar calendars can vary based on region and practice.
  • Kosher restrictions apply: refers to the dietary guidelines of Jewish law which apply daily throughout the year. Restrictions include: pork, shellfish (fish is allowed) and mixing meat with dairy.
  • Halal dietary restrictions apply: refers to the foods prohibited according to Islamic dietary law throughout the year. Restrictions include alcohol and pork.

Native American Ceremonies

Spring was and is an important time of year for the spiritual beliefs of the Lakota and related peoples. The annual journey of spiritual renewal that reminded the people of their connection to Wakan Tanka, the Black Hills, and mother earth began with a pipe ceremony held on the spring equinox around the time the bison began to return through Buffalo Gap.  The Welcoming back the thunders ceremony at Hearney Peak and Welcoming back all life in peace ceremony at Pe Sla followed. The spiritual renewal concluded with the Sun Dance ceremony at Devil's Tower on the summer equinox. The particular place in the Black Hills mirrored the suns travel through the Lakota constellations. The first three ceremonies were/are conducted by the spiritual leaders with a small but growing number of others attending in recent years. The Sun Dance was and is a community ceremony.

Goodman, Ronald (1992). Lakota Star Knowledge: Studies in Lakota Stellar Theology. Sinte Gleska University, Rosebud, South Dakota.

TEXTBOOKS / 2ND FLOOR E99.O3 G66 1992

CHILSON COLLECTION / 3RD FLOOR E99.O3 G66 1992

Footer for USD LibGuide v2.0