Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

Below are many, but not all, of the religious holidays observed by members of the Vassar community.

Please note that individual practices and dates may vary, including for holy days that are determined by the lunar calendar (e.g., the actual start date for Ramadan in the Islamic calendar is determined by the sighting of the new moon).


HolidayReligion / NotesDescription
July 9 - 10 (sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday)Eid al-Adha MuslimOne of the two main Islamic festivals (the other is Eid al-Fitr), this festival commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son.
August 2 (Tuesday)Nag PanchamiHinduWorship of snake-deities
August 7 - 8 (sundown Sunday to sundown Monday)Ashura Shi’aMuslimA day of great mourning, marking the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
August 11 (Thursday)Raksha BandhanHinduThe tying of thread, talisman, or amulet on the wrist as a form of ritual protection. The protection is primarily offered by sisters to brothers, but also by priests to patrons, and sometimes by individuals to real or potential benefactors.
August 15 (Monday)AssumptionCatholicA Feast Day to celebrate the assumption of Mary, Jesus’ mother, into heaven.   A holy day of obligation in the Roman Catholic Church
August 19 (Friday)Krishna JanmashthamiHinduAnnual Hindu festival that demarcates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of god Vishnu.
September 22 (Thursday)Fall EquinoxPaganA celebration of the transition from life to death, the harvest, and the bounty of the earth.
September 25 - 27 (sundown Sunday 9/25 to sundown Tuesday 9/27)Rosh Hashanah JewishThis marks the beginning of the Jewish year and is the first of the High Holidays and the 10 Days of Awe. Observance includes refraining from work, attending services, hearing the sound of the shofar, and holiday meals
September 26 - October 5 (Monday to Wednesday)NavaratriHinduA festival dedicated to the Hindu God Shakti.
October 4 - 5 (sundown Tuesday 10/4 to sundown Wednesday 10/5)Yom Kippur JewishThe Day of Atonement, at the end of the 10 Days of Awe, and second of the High Holidays is devoted to prayer, repentance and fasting. The Sabbath of Sabbaths in the Jewish calendar, it is the most widely observed Jewish holiday of the year. Observance includes refraining from work, refraining from eating and drinking from sundown to sundown, and attending services.
October 5 (Wednesday)VijayadashamiHinduHindu celebration of victory and valor.  Lord Rama is remembered as winning a victory over evil.
October 9 - 16 (sundown Sunday to sundown the following Sunday)SukkotJewishThe Feast of the Tabernacles commemorates the dwelling of the Israelites in the wilderness. Jews build sukkot (booths) and spend time in them over the week. Observance includes refraining from work on the first two days and eating in the sukkah. All are invited to use the campus sukkah during this holiday.
October 16 - 17 (sundown Sunday to sundown Monday)Shemini AtzeretJewishThe eighth day of Sukkot, this holiday coincides with the beginning of the rainy season in Israel, and incorporates prayers for rain and a good harvest. Observance includes refraining from work.
October 17 - 18 (sundown Monday to sundown Tuesday)Simchat TorahJewishA celebration of the Torah, this festival marks the end of the annual cycle of Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle. Observance includes refraining from work and attending services.
October 23 - 27 (Sunday - Thursday; with special emphasis on Monday, October 24)Diwali (Deepavali) Hindu, Jain, SikhThe festival of lights, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. October 24 is the Hindu Amavasya, or new moon, when puja is offered to Maha Lakshmi.
October 30 (Sunday)ChhathHinduNative to the Madhesh and Mithila regions, Chhath is the worship of the Sun and his wife Usha, thanking them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.
October 31 (Monday)Reformation DayProtestant ChristianThe Protestant Christian anniversary of their tradition and its emphasis on the place of the Bible and religious freedom.
October 31 - November 1 (sundown Monday to sundown Tuesday)SamhainPaganOn this night, nearly halfway between the Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice, Pagans honor a liminal time when the boundary between the physical and the spiritual world is thinnest, and access to knowledge of the dead is possible.
November 1 (Tuesday)All Saint’s DayChristian   Refraining from class or assigned work is not expected, but please note there is a 5pm on-campus Mass for this significant holy day in the Catholic calendar.Honors all the saints, known and unknown   A holy day of obligation in the Roman Catholic Church    
November 1 - 2 (Tuesday to Wednesday)Día de los MuertosMesoamerican native and ChristianA festive Mexican holiday when families remember their dead and the continuity of life.
November 2 (Wednesday)All Soul’s DayChristianA day commemorating the faithful departed.
November 24 (Thursday)ThanksgivingInterfaith, USADay celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year.
November 27  - December 24 (Sunday to  Saturday)AdventChristianThe season in which Christians prepare and expectantly wait for the birth of Jesus. In the Western Church, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas Day.
November 28 - January 6 (Monday to  Friday)Nativity Fast Orthodox ChristianThe Nativity Fast begins forty days before the Nativity Feast (Jesus’ birth) and is a time to prepare, through fasting and prayer, for the upcoming feast.
December 8 (Thursday)Immaculate ConceptionCatholic   Refraining from class or assigned work is not expected, but please note there is a 5pm on-campus Mass for this significant holy day.A feast in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary   A holy day of obligation in the Roman Catholic Church
December 8 (Thursday)Bodhi DayBuddhistIn the Northern or Mahayana tradition, this day celebrates the Buddha’s attainment of Enlightenment.
December 18 - December 26 (sundown Sunday to sundown Monday)Hanukkah JewishThe Festival of Lights marks the victory of the Maccabees and rededication of the Temple. It is a celebration of religious freedom and an affirmation of God’s saving power.
December 21 (Wednesday)Winter Solstice/YuleNeo–Pagan/ WiccanThe shortest day of the year, Winter Solstice symbolizes the natural cycle of life and death, and the return of light into the world.
December 25 (Sunday)ChristmasChristianThe celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
December 26  - January 1 (Monday to Sunday)KwanzaaAfrican–AmericanAn African American and Pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture, Kwanzaa is a secular observance with some religious participation. Seven life virtues are presented. The dates are always December 26 - January 1.


January 1 (Sunday)Feast of Mary, Mother of GodCatholicA holy day of obligation during which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is celebrated.
January 6 (Friday)Holy Epiphany/Día de los Reyes/Feast of the TheophanyChristianA celebration of the epiphany (or manifestation) of Jesus’ divine nature. Eastern or Orthodox Christian churches commemorate the baptism of Jesus; Western churches commemorate the coming of the Magi or "Wise Men".
January 7 (Saturday)Orthodox ChristmasOrthodox ChristianCelebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
January 7 (Saturday)Mahayana New YearBuddhistBegins on the first full moon of January (actual date is not always predictable because the beginning is marked by the sighting of the full moon).
January 22 (Sunday)Chinese/Vietnamese/ Korean New YearBuddhist/ Daoist/ Confucian (secular in origin; observed across religious and secular communities throughout East Asia cultural regions excluding Japan)Celebrated as the most important holiday of the year in the East Asian Lunar calendar (also known as the Chinese lunar calendar). The holiday is observed primarily in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Vietnam and Korea, and also many Southeast Asian countries with significant populations from the above regions. The Year of the Rabbit begins.
January 26 (Thursday)Vasant PanchamiHinduA spring festival that is treated as the start of spring.  This also marks the start of preparation for Holika bonfire and Holi, which occurs forty days later
February 5 - 6 (Sunday to Monday)    Tu B’shevatJewishThe traditional Jewish New Year for trees, this holiday has become a modern celebration of earth and the environment.
February 15 (Wednesday)Nirvana DayBuddhistThis day is the celebration of the day with Buddha is said to have achieved Parinirvana upon the death of his physical body.
February 18 (Saturday)Maha ShivaratriHinduA Hindu festival in honor of Lord Shiva and his marriage to Goddess Parvati.
February 22 (Wednesday)Ash WednesdayChristian   Refraining from class or assigned work is not expected but attentiveness to the 5pm ecumenical service on campus is encouraged–it is attended by many Christian studentsThe beginning of Lent, the 40–day period (excluding Sundays) of preparation, prayer and repentance leading up to Easter, the most important time in the Christian calendar.
March 6 - 7 (sundown Monday  to sundown Tuesday)PurimJewishThis joyous celebration of the story of Esther commemorates the victory of the Jews over a tyrannical enemy.
March 7 (Monday)Clean MondayOrthodox ChristianEastern Orthodox churches begin the season of Lent, marked by fasting, prayer, and charity.
March 8 (Wednesday)HoliHinduA widely-celebrated festival during which participants throw colored water or powder at one another to celebrate episodes in the life of Krishna.
March 17 (Friday)  St. Patrick’s Day  ChristianChristian celebration of Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland in early days of the faith.
March 20 (Monday)  Spring EquinoxNeo–Pagan/ WiccanA day that marks the rebirth of the year, and celebrates the change of seasons and the rebirth of the spirit after death.
March 22 (Wednesday)New YearHinduThe new year is celebrated at various times of the year, usually during spring harvest time, based on the solar or lunar calendars.
March 22 - April 21 (sundown Wednesday 3/22  to sundown Friday 4/21)RamadanMuslimThe (lunar) month of fasting. Adult Muslims abstain from eating from dawn until sunset.
March 30 (Thursday)Rama Navami HinduThe first day of a nine-day festival in honor of the birth of Rama. The Ramayana, an Indian Epic, is performed.
April 2 - 9 (Sunday to Sunday)   April 2 - Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday April 6 - Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday April 7 - Good Friday April 8 - Holy Saturday April 9 - EasterHoly Week and EasterChristianThe most important Christian holidays, marking the Last Supper, passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, with a day of holy observance on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
April 4 (Tuesday)Mahavir JayantJainJain festival honoring Lord Mahavira on the founder’s birthday.
April 5 - 13 (sundown Wednesday 4/5 to sundown Thursday 4/13)   Seder Nights: April 5 and 6Passover JewishPassover commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Seders, ritual feasts at which the story of the Exodus is recounted, are conducted on the first and second nights, followed by six more days of observance during which dietary restrictions apply.
April 9 - 17 (Sunday to Monday) April 9 - Palm Sunday April 13 - Holy Thursday April 14 - Great Friday April 15 - Holy Saturday April 16 - Pascha April 17 - Easter MondayOrthodox Holy Week and Pascha (Easter)Orthodox ChristianEastern Orthodox churches observe Holy Week, including Holy Thursday and Great Friday and Easter or Pascha. On Holy Friday, adults abstain from food and drink as their health allows.
April 14 - 16 (Friday to Sunday)Songkran/Thingyan/ Pi Mai LaoBuddhistThese days mark the New Year for many countries in Southeast Asia. Cleansing rituals are performed, which represent a cleansing of the soul and a washing away of the old year.
April 17 - 18 (sundown Monday to sundown Tuesday)  Yom HaShoahJewishHolocaust Rememberance Day.
April 21 - 24 (sundown Friday to sundown Monday)Eid al FitrMuslimThis three-day celebration marks the end of the month-long Ramadan fasting and is known as the “Festival of the Breaking of the Fast."  
May 18 (Thursday)AscensionCatholicA Feast Day to commemorate the ascension of Jesus into heaven after his resurrection
May 25 - 27 (sundown Thursday to sundown Saturday)ShavuotJewishA harvest festival celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Observance includes refraining from work.
May 28 (Sunday)PentecostChristianPentecost celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the founding events of the Christian church.
June 4 (Sunday)Orthodox PentecostOrthodox ChristianPentecost celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the founding events of the Christian church.
June 21 (Wednesday)Summer SolsticePaganMidsummer, or the day of "solstinium" ("standing still of the sun") is associated with symbols of fertility, rebirth, the harvest and the bounty of nature.
June 29 (Thursday)The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul ChristianA liturgical feast in honor of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul.