Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Calendar of Religious Festivals – January - April 2009

Issue 60 – January 2009

1 February IMBOLC (Pagan) also called Oimeic or Candlemas. Celebrates the awakening of the land and the growing power of the sun.
2 February THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD IN THE TEMPLE (Christian) or Candlemas because lighted candles are held during the Gospel reading in church. This day commemorates the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple as enjoined by Jewish law.
3 February SETSUBUN - Bean Scattering (Japanese) the Bean Scattering ceremony is performed both in homes and temples.
8 February PARINIRVANA (Buddhist) Mahayanists mark the final passing away from this world of Gautama Buddha at the age of 80. Pure Land Buddhists call this Nirvana Day.
9 February TENGH CHIEH (Chinese) The Lantern Festival that marks the first full moon of the year and the lengthening of the days. Strings of decorative lanterns are hung out.
23 February MAHASHIVRATRI (Hindu) Great Shiva Night. A particularly important new moon celebration commemorating the night on which Shiva performed the cosmic dance from creation to destruction. All-night prayers focus on Shiva, his shrines and statues. Milk is poured on the lingam, his symbol.
25 February – 11 April LENT (Western Christian Churches). The forty days of Lent are a time of fasting and discipline in preparation for Easter. Many Christians give up some luxury/pleasure and give the cost of these to a charity; many also take Lent as a time for group prayer, study and Bible reading.
1 March ST DAVID'S DAY (National) 6th century bishop celebrated as the patron Saint of Wales.
2 March – 19 April GREAT LENT (Orthodox Christian) Eastern Christian Churches begin the Lenten Fast, which involves abstinence from meat, fish and dairy products until Easter, on the Monday before the first Sunday calculated on the lunar calendar so this year a week later than Western Christians who go by the solar calendar.
3 March HANAMATSURI (Japanese Buddhist) celebrating the birthday of the Buddha, fixed by Mahayana Buddhists in 565 BCE.
6 March WOMEN'S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER (Christian) In 2008 the theme is God's Wisdom Provides New Understanding. The order of service comes from the women of Guyana. Ecumenical services are held in many places and are open to all comers.
9 March THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S BIRTHDAY (Muslim) 20th August 570 CE. The celebration is on the 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal. UK Muslims celebrate at the mosque.
10 March PURIM (Jewish) Celebrates the saving of the Jewish community of Persia as told in the Book of Esther (the Megillah) which is read twice in the synagogue. Many come in fancy dress with rattles and whistles to drown out Haman's name when it occurs in the reading. Poppy-seed cakes called 'Haman's ears' are eaten.
21 March There are many celebrations on this date every year including:
NAW RUZ (Bahá'í) New Year's Day and the end of the nineteen day fast that concludes the old year.
SHUNBUN NO HI (Japanese Higari,) Marks the spring equinox. Harmony and balance are the themes. Sutras are recited and family graves visited.
OSTARA – Spring Equinox (Pagan) and
JAMSHEDI NORUZ (Zoroastrian Fasli calendar) New Year – a family day with eggs and evergreens as symbols of life, continuity and eternity.
26 March KHORDAD SAL (Zoroastrian) The birthday of Zarathustra on the Fasli calendar.
3 April RAMA NAVAMI (Hindu) The birthday of Rama the seventh avatar of Vishnu. It is celebrated at noon by aarti (ritual offering of light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor) in front of a picture of Rama swinging in a cradle or sometimes a doll in a real cradle.
5-12 April HOLY WEEK (Western Christian Churches) The most solemn week of the year in which Christians recall the events of the week in which Jesus was crucified.
9-16 April PASSOVER/PESACH (Jewish) Commemorates the Exodus from slavery Egypt. The festival begins with the story being told at the Seder meal held in family homes.
Return to top         Return to Newletter

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict         Valid CSS!