Celebrations & Observances

Denison celebrates the diversity of our community in conjunction with national days and observances, as well as events initiated by our community on The Hill.

Lammas/Lughnasadh (August)

A Druid, Pagan or Wiccan celebration of the beginning of the harvest.

Tisha B’Av (August)

Commemorates a series of Jewish tragedies including the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem.

Raksha Bandhan (August)

Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu celebration in Shravana month during full moon day or Purnima day. A day to acknowledge siblings and their relationships.

Krishna Janmashtami (August)

A two-day festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, a widely-worshiped Hindu god. Krishna is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher, and philosopher

Ganesha Chaturthi (August)

In Hinduism, this 10-day festival marks the birth of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha

Mabon/Alban Elfed (September)

Druid, Pagan or Wiccan holiday also referred to as Harvest Home, the Feast of the Ingathering, and Meán Fómhair. Mabon is the second celebration of the harvest, a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months.

Rosh Hashanah (September)

The day of judgment and remembrance; the Jewish calendar celebrates the New Year in the seventh month (Tishrei) as a day of rest and celebration ten days before Yom Kippur.

Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month (September/October)

Recognizes the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success.

Navaratri (beginning of summer and the beginning of winter)

Navaratari literally means “nine nights.” Navratri is a time when Hindus celebrate the goddess Durga for killing the demon, Mahishasura. A more powerful God, Lord Brahma, had blessed Mahishasura with the gift of immortality because of his dedication to him, which meant he could never die. It is celebrated twice a year.

Yom Kippur (October)

Considered the holiest day of the year in the Jewish tradition, the day is dedicated to atonement and abstinence.

Mawlid-an-Nabi-Sharif

Observed as a public holiday in many countries with a large Muslim population, it commemorates the anniversary of the birth of the founder of Islam and the proclaimer of the Qurʾan.

Sukkot (October)

A week-long Jewish celebration that begins with the building of Sukkah for sleep and meals; Sukkot is named for the huts Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert before reaching the promised land.

Indigenous People’s Day (October)

The holiday recognizes the legacy and impact of colonialism on Native communities, and it also celebrates the cultures, contributions, and resilience of contemporary Native peoples.

Shemini Atzeret (October)

Also known as Atzereth, this is a Jewish fall festival, which includes a memorial service for the dead and features prayers for rain in Israel.

Simchat Torah (October)

The completion of the Jewish annual cycle of the reading of the Torah in the synagogue and the beginning of the new cycle.

Diwali/Kali Puja (October)

The Hindu “festival of lights” is an extremely popular holiday for multiple religions throughout Southern Asia. Diwali extends over five days, and celebrates the victory of good over evil. Fireworks, oil lamps, and sweets are common, making this a favorite holiday for children. The lamps are lit to help the goddess Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes.

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh (October)

The birthday of Bahá’u’lláh is one of the Baha’I faith’s most important figures. For Bahá’ís, the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh is a Holy Day celebrating the rebirth of the world through the love of God. Comparable to what Christmas is for Christians.

Coming Out Week (October)

Each year during the second week of October, Outlook (Denison’s Queer-Straight Alliance) and the Center for Belonging and Inclusion celebrate National Coming Out Day with a week of events across campus.

Denison Day of Pride (October)

The Denison Day of Pride, held on the second Thursday in October, sponsors events in honor of the fight for equality and visibility of LGBTQAI+ people. Together, we celebrate and promotes awareness of sexual diversity across our campus.

Samhain (October 31)

One of the four “greater Sabbats and considered by some to be the Wiccan New Year. A time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, welcome those born during the past year into the community, and reflect on past relationships, events and other significant changes in life.

All Saints’ Day (November 1)

Also known as All Hallows’ Day, or Hallowmas, is a Christian celebration in honor of all the saints from Christian history.

All Souls’ Day (November 2)

Known simply as “the Day of the Dead,” it’s a day for Christians to remember all the dearly departed: friends, relatives, and ancient ancestors.

Trans Day of Remembrance (November 20)

Outlook (Denison’s Queer-Straight Alliance) and the Center for Belonging and Inclusion co-sponsor events in honor of our trans community.

Advent (November/December)

Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas the coming of Jesus into the world.

Bodhi Day (December 8)

Celebrates the day in which Siddhartha Gautama sat underneath the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment. This one defining moment would become the central foundation upon which Buddhism has been built upon for the last 2,500 years. It is a day on which followers can renew their dedication to Buddhism; reaffirm themselves to enlightenment, compassion, and kindness to other living creatures.

Immaculate Conception (December 8)

Celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of Saint Anne; and nine months later, on September 8, Christians celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hanukkah/Chanukah (December)

The Jewish festival of lights lasts for eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish struggle for religious freedom. The history of the holiday involves a historic military victory in which a Jewish sect called the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks. The celebration commemorates a miracle in which a sacred temple flame burned for eight days on only one day’s worth of oil.

Winter Solstice/Yule (December 21)

The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

Christmas Eve (December 24)

Also known as the Vigil of Christmas, is perceived as the culmination of the Advent season.

Christmas (December 25)

A Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus, has evolved into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian and pagan traditions into the festivities.

Kwanzaa (December 26)

An African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Given the profound significance Kwanzaa has for African Americans and indeed, the world African community, it is imperative that an authoritative source and site be made available to give an accurate and expansive account of its origins, concepts, values, symbols and practice.

Solemnity of Mary (January 1)

Mother of God is a Christian liturgical celebration observed on January 1. The use of the word “solemnity” is a designation used for certain days within the liturgical (church-based) calendar of the Church.

Epiphany (January 6)

Also known as the Fest of Three Kings, marks the day when Jesus was Baptized and began to teach people about God (when he was about 30). Epiphany means ‘revelation’ and both the visit of the Wise Men and his Baptism are important times when Jesus was ‘revealed’ to be very important.

Christmas (Feast of the Nativity) (January 7)

The Orthodox Feast of the Nativity (Christmas) in the United States is celebrated on or near January 7 in the Gregorian calendar.

Orthodox New Year (January 14)

The Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year is an informal traditional holiday, celebrated as the start of the New Year by the Julian calendar.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations (January)

As an educational community, we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in ways that go beyond the observances of towns and cities across the country. King was himself an educated man and he talked often and persuasively about education as the way for all persons to achieve their potential and for men and women alike to overcome their preconceptions and biases. As a college, we have a special stake in the value of education, and by commemorating King, we affirm that value.

Mahayana New Year (January)

In countries where Mahayana Buddhism is the most dominant religion, January is the month of celebration.

Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year (January/February)

The Chinese New Year’s Day is the new moon day of the first lunar month. According to the Chinese Lunar calendar the first lunar month is the second new moon after the lunar month contains Winter Solstice.

Tu Bishvat (January/February)

An ancient and authentic Jewish “Earth Day” that educates Jews about the Jewish tradition’s advocacy of responsible stewardship of God’s creation as manifested in ecological activism.

Isra and Mi’raj (January/Feburary)

This event commemorates the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascent into heaven.

Black History Month (February)

Denison celebrates Black History Month through arts and events that take place across campus.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February)

An annual campaign to educate the public about the realities of eating disorders and to provide hope, support, and visibility to individuals and families affected by eating disorders.

Maha Shivaratri (February/March)

“The Great Night of Shiva” is the most significant event in India’s spiritual calendar. Sadhguru explains what makes this night so important, and how we can make use of it.

Ash Wednesday (February/March)

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.

Clean Monday (February/March)

Also known as Orthodox Shrove Monday or Ash Monday. Great Lent corresponds to Lent as found in Western Christianity, though the length of the periods are calculated in different ways.

Magha Puja Day (February/March)

Commemorates an important event in the life of the Buddha, in which the four disciples traveled to join the Buddha.

Women’s History Month (March)

Denison celebrates Women’s History Month through arts and events that take place across campus, including the EmpowHERment Conference, Denison’s annual women’s leadership development conference held in March.

Purim (March)

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

Holi (March)

Also known as the “Festival of Colors,” Holi 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.

Ostara/Alban Eilir/Spring Equinox (March 20)

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.

Naw Ruz (March 20)

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.

Trans Day of Visibility (March 31)

Outlook (Denison’s Queer-Straight Alliance) and the Center for Belonging and Inclusion co-sponsor events in honor of our trans community.

Ramadan (Feb/March/April)

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.

Rama Navami (March/April)

Rama is believed to have been an incarnation of the god Vishnu and a wise and good king whose reign (the “Rama Rajya”) brought about great prosperity. The holiday is also celebrated in Nepal and by Hindus around the world.

Palm Sunday (March/April)

Palm Sunday is a commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as crowds lined his path with palm fronds.

Pesach/Passover (March/April)

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.

Holy/Maundy Thursday (March/April)

Holy/Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles.

Good Friday (March/April)

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

Holy Saturday (March/April)

In the primitive Church Holy Saturday was known as Great, or Grand, Saturday, Holy Saturday, the Angelic Night, the Vigil of Easter, etc. It is the close of the season of Lent and penance, and the beginning of paschal time, which is one of rejoicing.

Hanuman Jayanti (April)

In Hinduism, Hanuman Jayanti celebrates the birth of Lord Hanuman. Hanuman was the son of Anjana, a female spirit of the clouds and waters, and Desari, the chief of the vanara, a group of powerful monkey people who lived in the forests. The wind god Vayu also played a role in the conception and birth of Hanuman.

Easter Sunday (March/April)

Easter is the annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Good Friday (March/April)

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

Orthodox Easter (March/April)

Easter is the annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yom HaSho’ah (April/May)

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

Eid al-Fitr (March/April)

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

Lavender Graduation (April/May)

An annual celebration that honors LGBTQ+ students and acknowledges their accomplishments and contributions, Lavender Graduation provides an important link between graduating seniors and Denison Pride, our LGBTQ+ alumni network.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut (April/May)

Yom Ha’atzmaut is Israel’s Independence Day. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, which is the Hebrew date of the formal establishment of the State of Israel, when members of the “provisional government” read and signed a Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv. The original date corresponded to May 14, 1948.

Beltane (May)

Beltane is 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 for Druids.

Shavuot (May/June)

In Judaism, Shavuot commemorates receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai (two of three pilgrimage festivals).

Ascension of the Bahá’u’lláh (May)

Bahá’u’lláh commemorates the death of the founder of the Baha’i faith; Bahaullah died on May 29, 1892.

Pride Month (June)

Celebrates the LGBTQIA community in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan.

Juneteenth (June 19)

Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas.

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