Interfaith Calendar

In a commitment to celebrating diversity, Saint Thomas Health makes available an interfaith calendar that compiles the sacred days in several of the world's major religious traditions.

Interfaith calendar
Source - BBC News / BBC Sport / - © 2012 BBC

Some religious traditions, such as Judaism and Islam, mark sacred days according to dusk, sunset, or dawn; therefore the exact times for the beginning and end of each religious day will vary from city to city. Below are calendars with accurate times for each zip code.

About Major Global Religious Groups

Christian faith is based on the belief in one God, who exists in three persons (the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). The general pattern of Christian religious observance is based on both a weekly and a yearly cycle. Most Christian groups worship weekly on a Sunday, although some such as Seventh Day Adventists worship on a Saturday. One of the major divisions within Christianity is between the Orthodox tradition and those churches which are based in, or arose from, the Catholic tradition. These different parts of the Christian tradition celebrate the same annual cycle of festivals, but at slightly different times. Advent, the preparation for Christmas, and Lent, leading up to Easter, are the two main periods of religious observance.

Muslims believe in one God who promised humans guidance through a series of prophets; the last and greatest of these is Mohammed. The patterns of Islamic worship are based on daily, weekly and yearly cycles, and also on events that are significant for a lifetime. The daily pattern is of five set times for prayers.* The weekly pattern involves an obligation for Islamic men, especially, to attend the Friday mid-day congregational prayer at a mosque or prayer space. The most significant part of the yearly cycle is the month of Ramadan, which is marked by an intense time of prayer and fasting. The fast lasts from sunrise to sunset. It begins with Lailat al Bara’ah, or “Night of forgiveness”, and finishes thirty days later with Eid ul-Fitr. The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, is a special event required at least once during a lifetime, during the season of the Hajj which occurs annually. Chief amongst festivals and observance days associated with the Hajj is Eid ul-Adha, a very significant three day festival at the end of the Hajj.  *Online prayer schedule. Downloadable prayer schedule.

The Torah is central to Judaism and is believed to be the holy word revealed to Moses. This “law book,” together with the “halachah”, or legal tradition, sets out the way of life to be followed in Judaism. Within Judaism the name of the holy one is not written or spoken. Essential beliefs include that the Holy One is a single being who creates the world. The final triumph of good over evil will only come in the time of the Messiah, who is awaited. Jewish patterns of faith follow daily, weekly and yearly cycles. The daily cycle is of three designated times for prayer. The weekly cycle is based around the keeping of the Sabbath (Shabat), which is on Saturday. Shabat, as with other Jewish festivals, is understood to begin at sunset on the day before.*  Observant Jews will refrain from work on Shabat, and attend worship at the Synagogue. The Jewish year is marked by a cycle of holy days with different observances. Some of these holy days also bring an obligation to refrain from work.  *Shabat calendar

This faith is the youngest of the world’s independent religions. Its founder, Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá’ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers that stretches back beyond recorded time and which includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Mohammed. Devotional programs are simple, consisting of prayers, meditations, and the reading of selections from the sacred scriptures of the Bahá’í Faith and other world religions. The major Bahá’í festivals and holy days have been fixed by the founders and central figures of the Bahá’í faith. The most important Bahá’í festival is the twelve-day period known as the festival of Ridvan. It commemorates the twelve day period that marks the beginning of the prophetic ministry of Bahá’u’lláh. The first, ninth, and twelfth days of this twelve-day period are considered holy days on which work should be suspended.

The Sikh religion is a way of life and philosophy that preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and social justice. The Sikh religion denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its ten Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The most noticeable religious practice of a devout Sikh is the wearing of the “Five Ks”, which includes wearing a turban and carrying a small dagger. There is a number of festival days in the Sikh calendar but only a few are listed here. Maghi is a Sikh day of commemoration of a battle. The festival honors the martyrdom of the “forty immortals” who were followers of Guru Gobind Singh and died in his defense. Vaisakhi is another special day. This celebrates the day that Guru Gobind Singh gathered thousands at Anandpur Sahib and founded the Khalsa order by baptizing five brave Sikhs who were willing to give their lives for the Guru. The Five Beloved Ones in turn baptized Guru Gobind Singh into the Khalsa brotherhood. This day, celebrated around April 13, is considered the birthday of the Khalsa order.

The most important part of the Vedic literature is the Upanishads, which set out belief in an essential, single spiritual reality underlying all things (Brahman). Popular Hinduism involves the worship of a variety of gods and goddesses. Devotion to the gods is shown through worship, singing and reading Scriptures, celebrating special festivals and traveling on pilgrimage to holy sites. Worship frequently takes place within the home, but can also occur in temples. There are many different festivals in the Hindu cycle and different traditions may celebrate these at different times of the year. This calendar lists only a few of the significant Hindu festivals.

Buddhism does not consist of belief in a God or gods, but is an understanding of life and existence. Buddhist belief includes an understanding of reincarnation, living many lives on the individual’s path to nirvana. The central religious practice of Buddhism is meditation to calm the mind and move the person beyond rational thought towards enlightenment. The most significant celebrations in the Buddhist Calendar are festivals marking the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha over 2,500 years ago. The most significant of these are Buddha Day celebrated every May on the night of the full moon, and the Buddhist New Year which occurs at different times in the Western Calendar according to tradition and country.