Spring and summer 2023 heritage and significant days guide


Jan. 1: New Year’s Day, the first day of the year according to the modern Gregorian calendar, celebrated in most Western countries.

Jan. 1: Kwanzaa ends, the seventh Kwanzaa principle, Imani (faith), is observed—to believe with all our hearts in our people, our families, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our challenges and triumphs.

Jan. 4: World Braille Day, observed to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication; celebrated on the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille.

Jan. 5: Twelfth Night, a festival celebrated by some branches of Christianity that marks the coming of the Epiphany. 

Jan. 6: Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), a holiday observed by Eastern and Western Christians that recognizes the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus twelve days after his birth.

Jan. 6: Armenian Orthodox Christmas, recognized on this day by Armenian Orthodox Christians, who celebrate the birth of Jesus on Epiphany. 

Jan. 7: Christmas, recognized on this day by Eastern Orthodox Christians, who celebrate Christmas 13 days later than other Christian churches because they follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian version of the Western calendar.  

Jan. 13: Lohri-Maghi, an annual festival celebrated by Sikhs commemorating the memory of forty Sikh martyrs.

Jan. 15: Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India.  

Jan. 15: World Religion Day, observed by those of the Bahá’í faith to promote interfaith harmony and understanding. 

Jan. 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorates the birth of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and an activist for nonviolent social change until his assassination in 1968. 

Jan. 20: Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs who initiated the Sikhs as the Khalsa (the pure ones) and who is known as the Father of the Khalsa.  

Jan. 22: Lunar New Year, Year of the Rabbit, one of the most sacred holidays in China. Lunar New Year is particularly celebrated in East and Southeast Asian countries. It is also a feature of the Hindu-Buddhist calendars of South and Southeast Asia, the Islamic calendar and the Jewish calendar. Although occurring on the same new moon day, celebrations are unique to cultures, each with its interpretations, zodiacs and traditions.

Jan. 26: Republic Day of India, celebrates the date on which the constitution of India came into effect in 1950, marking the transition from the British Monarchy as nominal head of the Indian Dominion to a fully sovereign republic in the Commonwealth of Nations with the president of India as the nominal head of the Indian Union.

January 27 (sundown to sundown): International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to “mourn the loss of lives, celebrate those who saved them, honor those who survived, and contemplate the obligations of the living.” —President Barack Obama 


February is Black History Month in the United States and Canada.

Feb. 1: National Freedom Day, celebrates the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished enslavement in the U.S. in 1865.

Feb. 1 – 2: Imbolc, a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring.

Feb. 3: Setsubun-Sai (Beginning of Spring), the day before the beginning of spring in Japan, celebrated annually as part of the Spring Festival.

Feb. 3: Four Chaplains Day, commemorates the sinking of the U.S. Army transport Dorchester and the heroism of the four chaplains aboard. 

Feb. 5: Lantern Festival, the first significant feast after Lunar New Year; participants enjoy watching paper lanterns illuminate the sky on the night of the event.

Feb. 5 – 6 (sundown to sundown): Tu B’shevat or Rosh Hashanah La’Ilanot, a Jewish holiday recognizing “The New Year of the Trees.” It occurs on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. In Israel, the flowering of the almond tree usually coincides with this holiday, which is celebrated by planting trees and eating dried fruits and nuts. 

Feb. 7: Black History Week originated by Carter G. Woodson, is observed for the first time in 1926. Black History Month is established by 1976 and formally recognized by the Ford administration and every American president since.

Feb. 11: Nelson Mandela is released from a South African prison in 1990 after being detained for 27 years as a political prisoner.

Feb. 14: Frederick Douglass Day, celebrated annually on Feb. 14 to honor one of the most important abolitionists, writers, orators and leaders on the day he was reportedly born. Carter G. Woodson established Black History Month in February because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Feb. 14: Morehouse College is organized in Augusta, Ga., in 1867. It later moves to Atlanta, Ga.

Feb. 14: St. Valentine’s Day, a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus. This holiday is typically associated with romantic love and celebrated by people expressing their love with gifts.

Feb. 15: Parinirvana Day (or Nirvana Day), commemoration of Buddha’s death at the age of 80, when he reached the zenith of Nirvana; Feb. 8 is an alternative date of observance.

Feb. 19: Meatfare Sunday (The Sunday of the Last Judgment), traditionally the last day of eating meat before Easter for Orthodox Christians.

Feb. 20: Presidents Day, a federally recognized celebration in the United States that honors the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as well as those of every U.S. president.

Feb. 21: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), Black American nationalist, is assassinated.

Feb. 26: Cheesefare Sunday or Forgiveness Sunday, the last Sunday prior to the commencement of Great Lent for Orthodox Christians.

Feb. 27 – April 8: Beginning of Great Lent in the Orthodox Christian faith. Feb. 27, the day Great Lent begins this year, is also known as Clean Monday.

Feb. 26 – March 1: Intercalary Days or Ayyám-i-Há, celebrated by people of the Bahá’í faith. At this time, days are added to the Bahá’í calendar to maintain their solar calendar. Intercalary days are observed with gift giving, special acts of charity and preparation for the fasting that precedes the New Year.


March is Women’s History Month.

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

March is National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month.

March 1: National Women of Color Day, established in 1986 on the first day of Women’s History Month to recognize and build a strong network for women of Black, Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Island heritages.

March 2: In 1955, Claudette Colvin refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., nine months before Rosa Parks’ arrest for the same action sparks the Montgomery bus boycott.

March 5: Orthodox Sunday, celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent. It is the celebration of the victory of the iconodules over the iconoclasts by the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Therefore, the service is to commemorate the restoration of icons for use in services and private devotional life of Christians.

March 6 – 7 (sundown to sundown): Holi, the annual Hindu and Sikh spring religious festival observed in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, along with other countries with large Hindu and Sikh populations. It is often celebrated on the full moon (the Phalguna Purnima) before the beginning of the Vernal Equinox as based on the Hindu calendar.

March 7 – 8 (sundown to sundown): Lailat al Bara’a, also known as Lailat Al Baraah, Barat, or popularly as Shab-e-Bara or Night of Forgiveness. It is an Islamic holiday during which practitioners of the faith seek forgiveness for sins. Muslims spend the night in special prayers. It is regarded as one of the most sacred nights on the Islamic calendar.

March 8: International Women’s Day, first observed in 1911 in Germany, it has now become a major global celebration honoring women’s economic, political and social achievements.

March 8 – 10: Hola Mohalla, a Sikh festival that takes place on the second day of the lunar month of Chet, a day after the Hindu spring festival Holi.

March 15: Equal Pay Day, an annual observance that symbolizes the ongoing issue of pay disparity and the wage gap between women and men. The date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to make as much as men during the previous year. As such, this observance usually occurs around March or September.

March 16: Mississippi ratifies 13th Amendment in 1995, which abolishes enslavement, 130 years after the other U.S. states had approved it.

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday started in Ireland to recognize St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who brought Christianity to the country in the early days of the faith.

March 20: Ostara, a celebration of the spring equinox commemorated by pagans and Wiccans. It is observed as a time to mark the coming of spring and the fertility of the land.

March 21 – 22: Naw-Rúz, the Bahá’í New Year is a holiday celebrated on the vernal equinox. It is one of the nine Bahá’í holy days on which work is suspended.

March 21 – 22: Nowruz/Norooz, Persian New Year, a day of joy, celebration and renewal. It is held annually on the spring equinox.

March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed annually to commemorate lives of those who died fighting for democracy and equal human rights for all in South Africa during apartheid, and institutionally racist system built upon racial discrimination. The Sharpeville Massacre is the specific reference day for this public holiday.

March 22 – April 21 (sundown to sundown): Ramadan, an Islamic holiday marked by fasting, praise, prayer and devotion to Islam.

March 22: Hindu New Year.

March 25: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Enslavement and the Transatlantic Trade, a United Nations international observation that offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. First observed in 2008, the international day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

March 31: International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated to bring awareness to transgender people and their identities as well as recognize those who helped fight for rights for transgender people.


April is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at WSU.

April is Autism Awareness Month.

April is Celebrate Diversity Month.

April is National Arab American Heritage Month.

April is National Deaf History Month.

April is National Volunteer Month.

April 2: Palm Sunday, a Christian holiday commemorating the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of the Holy Week.

April 2: World Autism Awareness Day, created to raise awareness of the developmental disorder around the globe.

April 4: Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

April 4: Lord’s Evening Meal, Jehovah’s Witnesses commemorate an event believed to have occurred on the first night of Passover in approximately 33 CE, the Last Supper, known as the Lord’s Evening Meal.

April 5 – 13: Passover, an eight-day Jewish holiday and festival in commemoration of the emancipation of the Israelites from enslavement in ancient Egypt.

April 7: Good Friday, a day celebrated by Christians to commemorate the execution of Jesus by crucifixion. It is recognized on the Friday before Easter.

April 9: Easter, a holiday celebrated by Christians to recognize Jesus’ return from death after the Crucifixion.

April 14: The Day of Silence, during which students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.

April 17 – 18: Yom HaShoah, Israel’s day of remembrance for the approximately 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

April 18: Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night of the year for Muslims, is traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of Ramadan. It is known as the Night of Power and commemorates the night that the Quran was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad.

April 21 – 22 (sundown to sundown): Eid al-Fitr, the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal, marking the end of Ramadan. Many Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to a khutuba (sermon) and give Zakat al-Fitr (charity in the form of food) during Eid al-Fitr.

April 22: Earth Day promotes world peace and sustainability of the planet. Events are held globally to show support of environmental protection of the Earth.

April 24: Armenian Remembrance Day, recognizes the genocide of approximately 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 in Turkey.


May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

May is Older Americans Month.

May 1: Beltane, an ancient Celtic festival celebrated on May Day, signifying the beginning of summer.

May 4: National Day of Prayer, a day of observance in the United States when people are asked to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

May 5: Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday commemorating the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861 – 1867). This day celebrates Mexican culture and heritage, including parades and mariachi music performances.

May 8 – 9 (sundown to sundown): Lag BaOmer, a Jewish holiday marking the Day of Hillula of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, a global celebration and advocacy of sexual-orientation and gender diversities.

May 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a day set aside by the United Nations as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together in harmony.

May 25: George Floyd Day of Enlightenment, a day of remembrance for communities, the nation and the world to turn pain into purpose, hate into hope and tragedy into triumph in honor of the life and memory of George Floyd.

May 26: Buddha Day (Vesak or Visakha Puja), a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. It falls on the day of the full moon in May and it is a gazetted holiday in India.

May 29: Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday established to honor military veterans who died in wars fought by American forces.


June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

June is Immigrant Heritage Month.

June 8: Corpus Christi, a Catholic holiday celebrating the presence of the body and blood of Christ, in the Eucharist.

June 13: Thurgood Marshall is appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

June 14: Flag Day in the United States, observed to celebrate the history and symbolism of the American flag.

June 19: Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It is observed as a public holiday in 14 U.S. states. This celebration honors the day in 1865 when enslaved Black people in Texas and Louisiana finally received word of their emancipation, two years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

June 21: National Indigenous Peoples Day or First Nations Day, a day that gives recognition to the Indigenous populations affected by colonization in Canada.

June 21: Litha, the summer solstice celebrated by the Wiccans and pagans. It is the longest day of the year, representing the sun’s “annual retreat.”

June 27 – 28 (sundown to sundown): Waqf al Arafa, the second day of pilgrimage within the Islamic faith.

June 28 (or last Sunday in June): LGBTQ+ Pride Day in the United States, commemorating the Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969.

June 28 – 29 (sundown to sundown): Eid al-Adha, an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Muslims around the world observe this event.


July 1: Canada Day, or Fête du Canada, is a Canadian federal holiday that celebrates the 1867 enactment of the Constitution Act, which established the three former British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as a united nation called Canada.

July 3: Asalha Puja, or Dharma Day, is a celebration of Buddha’s first teachings.

July 4: Independence Day (also known as the Fourth of July), a United States federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The original 13 American colonies declared independence from Britain and established themselves as a new nation known as the United States of America. Enslaved Black peoples did not receive independence in the U.S., fully, until June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth).

July 11: World Population Day, an observance established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme. The annual event is designed to raise awareness of global population issues.

July 14: International Non-Binary People’s Day, aimed at raising awareness and organizing around the issues faced by non-binary people around the world while celebrating their contributions.

July 14: Bastille Day, a French federal holiday that commemorates the Storming of the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris that held political prisoners who had displeased the French nobility. The Storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789, was regarded as a turning point of the French Revolution. Celebrations are held throughout France.

July 18: Nelson Mandela International Day, launched on July 18, 2009, in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday via unanimous decision of the U.N. General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices: “It is in your hands now.” It is more than a celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and to change the world for the better.

July 23: The birthday of Haile Selassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia.

July 26: Disability Independence Day, celebrating the anniversary of the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

July 26 – 27: Tisha B'Av, a fast in commemoration of the destruction of two holy and sacred temples of Judaism destroyed by the Babylonians (in 586 B.C.E) and Romans (in 70 C.E.). At the Tisha B’Av, after select passages from the Torah are read and understood, netilat yadayim or the washing of the hands, is performed.

July 30: International Day of Friendship, proclaimed in 2011 by the U.N. General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.