Spiritual & Religious Life

Religious Holidays

Southwestern University for Religious Holidays, Observance Days, and Related Absences

Southwestern is a community made up of individuals of various faiths and backgrounds. We encourage students, faculty, and staff to be aware and respectful of the diverse religious observances of University community members. Required accommodations exist for: Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Pesach (Passover), Good Friday, Easter (see below for Southwestern’s Religious Observance Excused Absence Policy).Suggested accommodations may range: adjusted due dates, proctoring exams (if during fasting) at times best for student fasting, offering halal/kosher/vegetarian options when food is offered. 

Major Holy Days 2020-2021

The days listed below are the ones most likely to affect the academic calendar.

NOTE: Dates in bold indicate holy days where work is prohibited or fasting is involved. An asterisk (*) indicates the holy day begins at sundown the day before this date and ends at sundown on this date.

2020

Date

Holy Day Name

Tradition

Brief Description

July 31*

Eid Al-Adha

Muslim

Work is generally prohibited. The Festival of Sacrifice remembers Abraham’s devotion. 

August 11

Krishna Janmashtami

Hindu

The birthday of Sri Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who helped restore the balance of good over evil.

August 16-23

Paryushana 

Parva

Jain 

Eight-day Festival of Forgiveness and Self-Discipline.

August 22

Ganesh Chaturti

Hindu

Birthday of Sri Ganesha, revered as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and the remover of obstacles.

August 29*

Ashura

Muslim

For Shias, a commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of 

the Prophet Muhammad, at Karbala.

September 19-20*

Rosh Hashanah

Jewish

Beginning of the Jewish Year and 

High Holy Days. Work is generally prohibited.

September 28*

Yom Kippur

Jewish

The Day of Atonement. Most solemn Jewish holy day. Adults fast from 

food and drink. Work is generally prohibited.

October 3-9*

Sukkot

Jewish

The Feast of the Tabernacles. Harvest

Festival. Work is generally prohibited on the first two days.

October 10*

Shemini Atzeret

Jewish

Marks the end of Sukkot. Work is generally prohibited.

October 11*

Simchat Torah

Jewish

Work is generally prohibited. Marks end and beginning of public Torah readings. 

October 17 -October 26

& October 27

Navaratri &

Vijayadashami/

Dusshera

Hindu

Festival of 9 nights celebrating the Goddess. 10th day is a festival celebrating the Goddess’ 

triumph over evil.

October 20*

Birth of the Bab

Bahá’í 

Day honoring the birth of one of the founders of the Bahá’í Faith.

November 1*

Samhain

Wiccan/

Pagan

Harvest holiday that honors the ancestors.

November 1

All Saint’s Day

Christian

Honors all the saints known and unknown.

November 14

Diwali

Hindu, 

Jain, Sikh

Festival of Lights. Light symbolizes a force against darkness, ignorance, evil. Diwali is celebrated over 5 days.

December 

11-18

Hanukkah

Jewish

Festival of Lights. Marks the victory of 

the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

December 25

Srimad Bhagavad Gita Jayanti

Hindu

Gita Jayanti is the date that Lord 

Krishna revealed the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu sacred text, to Prince Arjuna.

December 25

Christmas

Christian

Celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

December 26-

January 1 

Kwanzaa

African American

Kwanzaa celebrates 7 principles of African heritage. Each of the 7 days are dedicated to a principle.


2021

January 2

Bodhi Day

Buddhist

Celebration of Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment.

January 7 

Feast of the Nativity

Orthodox Christian

Celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

January 14

Makara 

Sankranti 

Hindu

A celebration marking the advent of the Sun’s northern migration and 

forthcoming Spring.

February 12

Chinese 

New Year

Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist

A festival marking the new year for the Chinese calendar.

February 17

Ash 

Wednesday

Christian

The beginning of Lent, a 40-day fast and time of reflection. 

February 26* 

Purim

Jewish

Celebration of the story of Esther.

March 2 – 20*

Nineteen Day Fast

Bahá’í 

Bahá’ís between the ages of 15 - 70 fast without food or drink from 

sunrise to sunset.

March 10*

Lailat al Miraj

Muslim

Commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s ascension to Heaven.

March 12

Maha Shivaratri

Hindu

An evening celebration of the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

March 21*

Nowruz (New Year)

Zoroastrian and Bahá’í

Celebration of the Persian New Year.

March 28

Palm Sunday

Christian

Beginning of Holy Week, prior to Easter.

March 28 -

April 4*

Pesach

(Passover)

Jewish 

Festival of liberation of Israelites from Slavery in Egypt. Work is prohibited on the first two and last two days. 

March 29

Holi

Hindu

Festival of colors. A two-day festival celebrates the advent of spring and the message that good victorious over evil.

April 1,

April 2,

April 4 

Holy Thursday,

Good/Holy 

Friday, Easter

Christian

Commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus with the Disciples; Commemoration of the Crucifixion of Jesus; Celebration of the Resurrection

of Jesus.

April 13- May 14*

Ramadan

Muslim

Holy month of fasting without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.

April 14

Vaisakhi

Sikh

Marks the formation of the Khalsa (religious community of Sikhs) by Guru Gobind Singh.

April 16- 

May 2*

Ridvan

Bahá’í

Commemoration of the 12 days when founder, Baha’u’llah, declared mission.

April 21

Rama Navami

Hindu

Celebration of the birth of Sri Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who helped restore balance of good over evil.

April 27

Hanuman 

Jayanti

Hindu 

Celebrates the birthday of Hanuman, foremost devotee of Sri Rama and Sita.

May 2

Pascha

Orthodox Christian

Celebration of Resurrection of Jesus.

May 13*

Eid al Fitr  

Muslim

Holy day celebrated to end Ramadan.

Major Holy Days 2021-2022

2021
Date Holy Day Name Tradition Brief Description
July 19* Eid Al-Adha Muslim Work is generally prohibited. The Festival of Sacrifice remembers Abraham’s devotion.
August 19* Ashura Muslim For Shias, a commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of
the Prophet Muhammad, at Karbala.
August 30 Krishna Janmashtami Hindu The birthday of Sri Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who helped restore the balance of good over evil.
September 4 - 11 Paryushan
Parva
Jain Eight-day Festival of Forgiveness and Self-Discipline.
September 7-8* Rosh Hashanah Jewish Beginning of the Jewish Year and
High Holy Days. Work is generally prohibited.
September 10 Ganesh Chaturthi Hindu Birthday of Sri Ganesha, revered as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and the remover of obstacles.
September 16* Yom Kippur Jewish The Day of Atonement. Most solemn Jewish holy day. Adults fast from
food and drink. Work is generally prohibited.
September 21-27* Sukkot Jewish The Feast of the Tabernacles. Harvest
Festival. Work is generally prohibited on the first two days.
September 28* Shemini Atzeret Jewish Marks the end of Sukkot. Work is generally prohibited.
September 29* Simchat Torah Jewish Work is generally prohibited. Marks end and beginning of public Torah readings.
October 7 -October 15
& October 15
Navaratri &
Vijayadashami/
Dusshera
Hindu Festival of 9 nights celebrating the Goddess. 10th day is a festival celebrating the Goddess’
triumph over evil.
November 1* Samhain Wiccan/
Pagan
Festival of Darkness honoring the dead.
November 1 All Saint’s Day Christian Honors all the saints known and unknown.
November 4 Diwali Hindu,
Jain, Sikh
Festival of Lights. Light symbolizes a force against darkness, ignorance, evil. Diwali is celebrated over 5 days.
November 7* Birth of the Bab Bahá’í Day honoring the birth of one of the founders of the Bahá’í Faith.
November 28 - December 6 Hanukkah Jewish Festival of Lights. Marks the victory of
the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
December 14 Srimad Bhagavad Gita Jayanti Hindu Gita Jayanti is the date that Lord
Krishna revealed the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu sacred text, to Prince Arjuna.
December 25 Christmas Christian Celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
December 26-
January 1
Kwanzaa African American Kwanzaa celebrates 7 principles of African heritage. Each of the 7 days are dedicated to a principle.
2022
January 7 Feast of the Nativity Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
January 10 Bodhi Day Buddhist Celebration of Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment.
January 14 Makar
Sankranti
Hindu A celebration marking the advent of the Sun’s northern migration and
forthcoming Spring.
February 1 Chinese
New Year
Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist A festival marking the new year for the Chinese calendar.
March 1* Lailat al Miraj Muslim Commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s ascension to Heaven.
March 1 Maha Shivaratri Hindu An evening celebration of the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
March 2 Ash
Wednesday
Christian The beginning of Lent, a 40-day fast and time of reflection.
March 2 – 20* Nineteen Day Fast Bahá’í Bahá’ís between the ages of 15 - 70 fast without food or drink from
sunrise to sunset.
March 17* Purim Jewish Celebration of the story of Esther.
March 18* Holi Hindu Festival of colors. A two-day festival celebrates the advent of spring and the message that good victorious over evil.
March 22* Nowruz (New Year) Zoroastrian and Bahá’í Celebration of the Persian New Year.
April 3 - May 1* Ramadan Muslim Holy month of fasting without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.
April 10 Palm Sunday Christian Beginning of Holy Week, prior to Easter.
April 10 Rama Navami Hindu Celebration of the birth of Sri Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who helped restore balance of good over evil.
April 14 Vaisakhi Sikh Marks the formation of the Khalsa (religious community of Sikhs) by Guru Gobind Singh.
April 14,
April 15,
April 17
Holy Thursday,
Good/Holy
Friday, Easter
Christian Commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus with the Disciples; Commemoration of the Crucifixion of Jesus; Celebration of the Resurrection
of Jesus.
April 16 - 23* Pesach
(Passover)
Jewish Festival of liberation of Israelites from Slavery in Egypt. Work is prohibited on the first two and last two days.
April 16 Hanuman
Jayanti
Hindu Celebrates the birthday of Hanuman, foremost devotee of Sri Rama and Sita.
April 21-
May 2*
Ridvan Bahá’í Commemoration of the 12 days when founder, Baha’u’llah, declared mission.
April 24 Pascha Orthodox Christian Celebration of Resurrection of Jesus.
May 3* Eid al Fitr Muslim Holy day celebrated to end Ramadan.

The days listed below are the ones most likely to affect the academic calendar.

NOTE: Dates in bold indicate holy days where work is prohibited or fasting is involved. An asterisk (*) indicates the holy day begins at sundown the day before this date and ends at sundown on this date.

Southwestern’s Religious Observance Excused Absence Policy 

Policy Reminders: One-time University events should not be scheduled during the following holidays; these are events which either (1) require attendance, (2) may not be mandatory, but those not attending would miss an important opportunity to be included in a campus event, and/or (3) are one-time opportunities for participants to receive the services offered: Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas Day, Pesach (Passover), Good Friday, Easter.

Chapel Services: In addition to the above religious holidays, the following dates and times have been identified for Chapel services during the 2020-2021 academic year. These are priority events which no student, faculty, or staff member may be denied the opportunity to attend because of a conflicting class, meeting, or event. 

  • Welcome Week worship service, Sunday, August 16, 2020, 11:00am-12:00pm (virtual)
    • Candlelight worship services, Thursday, December 3, 2020, 6:00pm & 8:00pm (virtual)
    • Ash Wednesday, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 (reflection and ashes to go offered 11:30 to 12:30)
    • Homecoming worship service, Sunday, April 11, 2021, 10:00am-11:00am 
    • Baccalaureate worship service, Friday, May 7, 2021, 7:00pm-8:00pm

Religious Absences: Because the religious holidays listed above reflect some, but not all, of the most commonly observed holidays, the University policies also permit any student to miss class in order to observe any religious or cultural holidays that are part of their tradition, including holidays that are not listed above. Students are expected to notify their professor of religious absences as far in advance as possible and fulfill missed assignments prior to the absence. Additionally, University policies permit faculty and staff, including student employees, to miss work in order to observe religious and cultural holidays that are part of their tradition, including holidays that are not listed above. This time-off may be without pay or taken as accrued vacation time, and in the case of student employees, it can include a change in work hours within a pay period to accommodate the absence. The University policy notes that faculty members are still expected to meet their class schedules and should work with their Department chair or the Dean of the Faculty to arrange these absences. 

Please feel free to contact Alisa Gaunder, Dean of the Faculty, (gaundera@southwestern.edu) or the University Interim Chaplain, if you have any questions. These policies can also be found in the Student and Faculty Handbooks.

Religious Observance GoogleCalendar 

Directions to subscribe to the Religious Observance Calendar for GoogleCalendar. 

  1. On your computer, open Google Calendar.
  2. On the left side, find “Other calendars” and click the plus sign
  3. Select Add by URL.
  4. Enter the following calendar’s address in the field provided: https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/1fkc78ne7p70f5dmt8mac79ems%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics
  5. Click Add calendar. The calendar will appear on the left side under “Other calendars.”  (Thank you to our friends at  the Yale University Chaplain’s Office for developing the calendar.)