NASA Goddard encourages and celebrates different faiths – Part 5!


A very happy holiday to anyone observing this month. :)

Like the ones in February, April, July, and August, below is the section of the email sent to all NASA Goddard employees with the holidays for the month of July, including some links at the bottom with additional information and a diversity calendar. As always, thank you to Matt for sharing!

October 1

Sukkot (Feast of Booths) (Jewish): An eight day festival commemorating the divine protection given to the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the desert. It is also a festival of giving thanks and celebrating the fall harvest. Begins at sundown the previous day.

October 5       

National Diversity Day: “Embrace diversity, embrace our world” is the slogan of this day, celebrated each year on the first Friday of October.

October 8 

Columbus Day: Columbus Day was first celebrated on October 12, 1792 to honor the day Christopher Columbus, a well known Italian explorer, landed in the Bahamas in 1492. One hundred years later, it was celebrated again at the urging of President Benjamin Harrison. Since 1920, it has been celebrated annually and, in 1971, became a federal legal holiday to be celebrated on the second Monday in October. Also commemorated in multiple Latin American countries to celebrate shared Spanish and Indian heritage.

October 9   

Simchat Torah (Jewish): Means “rejoicing in the Torah” and immediately follows Sukkot. It celebrates the conclusion of the public reading of the Torah. Begins at sundown the previous day.

October 9

Leif Eriksson Day (Norwegian American): A day of tribute to the landing of Norseman on the North American continent around 1000 CE, led by Leif Eriksson from Greenland. This holiday, proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, honors the Icelandic explorer Leif Ericsson, who is believed to be the first European to land on North American soil. Almost five hundred years would pass before another European landed in the Americas, when Columbus made his voyage of exploration

October 11     

National Coming Out Day: Commemorates the 1987 march in Washington, D.C. to support gay and lesbian rights. This is also a day to encourage gays and lesbians to step out with pride.

October 16     

National Boss Day: A day dedicated to appreciate our supervisors at work. It is usually celebrated on October 16 but if it falls on a weekend day, it is then celebrated on the work day closest to the 16th.

October 16     

Navaratri (Hindu): During the 9 days festival of Navaratri, God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as Durga, Devi or Shakti is honored. Culminates with a celebration on the tenth day “Dassehra” to commemorate Rama’s victory over Ravana and honors the goddess Durga. This festival is also known as Vijay Dasami.

October 20     

Birthday of the Bab (Baha’i): Remembers the 1819 birth of Siyyid Ali Muhammad, who took the title of “the Bab” and is recognized as prophet-herald of the faith. Begins at sundown the previous day.

October 24

United Nations Day (United Nations): This day commemorates the founding of the United Nations in 1945.

October 26

Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) (Islamic): Commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God’s word (God interceded by replacing a ram for the child). The three-day celebration occurs at the end of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. This is the most important feast of the Muslim calendar. Begins at sundown the previous day.

October 31

Halloween: This festival, which takes its name from All Hallows Eve (the eve of the feast of All Saints), originated among the Celts of Britain and Ireland, for whom October 31 was new year’s eve. On this night it was believed that the souls of the dead revisited their earthly homes, and huge bonfires were set to frighten away evil spirits. With the rise of Christianity, the autumn festival came to be associated with All Saints Day. Secular Halloween customs reflect its pagan origins and were introduced to the United States by immigrants, especially the Irish, in the nineteenth century. Today the most widely observed Halloween custom is a benign version of “trick or treat,” in which costumed children go from door to door collecting sweets.

October 31     

Samhain (Pagan): The first day of the New Year and marks the move from summer to winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This harvest festival, one of the “Greater Sabbats,” honors Saman, an ancient lord of the dead. According to folklore, on this day the souls of all those who had died the previous year gathered.

October 31     

Reformation Day (Christian Protestant): Commemorates the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (propositions) to the door of Wittenberg’s Palace Church, which led to the establishment of the Protestant denominations of Christianity.

NASA Goddard encourages and celebrates different faiths – Part 4!


A very happy holiday to anyone observing this month. :)

Like the ones in February, April, and July, below is the section of the email sent to all NASA Goddard employees with the holidays for the month of July, including some links at the bottom with additional information and a diversity calendar. As always, thank you to Matt for sharing!

August 1

Lughnasadh (or Lammas Day) (Celtic, Pagan): A celebration of the harvest and one of the “Greater Sabbats” during the Wiccan year. In medieval England, loaves made from the first ripe grain were blessed in the church on this day—­lammas means “loaf mass”.  

August 9    

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (U.N.): Commemorates the first meeting of the working group on Indigenous Populations in 1992. The U.N. decided that this day be observed on August 9 every year during the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014).

August 10

Janmashtami (Birth of Lord Krishna) (Hindu): This is one of the great Hindu night festivals. Worshippers fast and go to temples to see dance dramas enacting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna, one of the incarnations of Vishnu and one of the most popular deities in Hinduism.

August 12    

International Youth Day (U.N.): A day to increase awareness of the World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, which calls for action in 10 areas: education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, girls and young women, and full and effective participation of youths 15-24 years old in society.

August 14

Lailat ul-Qadr (Night of Power) (Muslim): Commemorates the revelation of the Qur’an to the prophet Muhammad in AD 610 by the archangel Gabriel. It falls within the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan, however, since it is not known on which of these days the Qur’an was revealed, Muslims often pray on each possible night.

August 14 

V-J Day (U.S.): Anniversary of the 1945 surrender of Japan to Allied forces. The surrender was formally signed on September 2 aboard the USS Missouri at Tokyo Bay.

August 15

Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Christian, Catholic): Commemorates the ascent of the Virgin Mary into heaven.

August 19

Eid al-Fitr (Feast of the Breaking of the Fast) (Muslim): A celebration of the end of the Ramadan fast and a time of goodwill to all.

August 26

Women’s Equality Day (U.S.): A day set aside in 1974 to honor the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, granting voting rights to women.

August 28

March on Washington (U.S.): 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which occurred on August 28, 1963.

We invite you to visit the websites used to compile this calendar for additional information. There you will find a wealth of information on days that are recognized throughout the world. Please find the sources listed below:

NASA Goddard encourages and celebrates different faiths – Part 3!


Holidays to balance out your hot and sticky summer! Thank heavens, too — we all need something other than air conditioners, swimming pools, and ice-cold lemonade to keep us afloat as we roast. (Though honestly, none of those are all that bad.)

Nothing for us Pagans this month, but still plenty to go around! A very happy holiday to anyone observing this month. :)

Like the ones in February and April, below is the section of the email sent to all NASA Goddard employees with the holidays for the month of July, including some links at the bottom with additional information and a diversity calendar. As always, thank you to Matt for sharing!

July 3

Asalhapuja (Buddhist): A Theraveda Buddhist celebration of the Buddha’s first sermon and the setting of the Wheel of Truth into the world.

July 4

Independence Day (United States): Marks the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence by representatives of the 13 colonies. The U.S. proclaimed autonomy from England and formed of the United States of America.

July 4

Shab-e-Barat (Islamic): A fast in preparation for Ramadan. It is believed that on this night, Allah absolves sins and fixes the destinies of humans for the coming year. It is common, particularly in India and Pakistan, to ask Allah to forgive people who have died. Begins at sundown the previous day.

July 9

Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i): Commemorates the arrest, torture, imprisonment, and execution of the Bab, the prophet-herald of the faith, in Tabriz, Persia, in 1850. Begins at sundown the previous day.

July 14

Bastille Day (France): Commemorates the event that launched the French Revolution. On this date in 1789, the Bastille, which held political prisoners and became a symbol of oppression by the monarchy, was stormed and prisoners freed. Given their French heritage, many Louisiana parishes, including New Orleans, hold Bastille Day festivals featuring Cajun food, music, and dance.

July 20

Ramadan (Islamic): This begins the first day of the Islamic month of Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic year. The fast of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and mandatory for every Muslim who has reached puberty except those who are ill, pregnant, or on a journey. During this month, no water or food may be taken from sunrise to sunset. The feast of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan.

July 20

First Special Olympics Games (1968): On this date, the first Special Olympics, an athletic competition for children and adults with cognitive disabilities, opened at Soldiers Field in Chicago. The first Special Olympics had 1,000 participants from the United States and Canada.By 1995, this competition had expanded to include Winter Special Olympics (added in 1977) and to involve 7,000 participants from all 50 states and 143 countries.

July 23

Birthday of Haile Selassie (Rastafarian): One of the holiest days of the year for Rastafarians, this holiday celebrates the birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie (1892–1975) of Ethiopia, who is revered by the Rastafarians as a descendant of King Solomon and is believed to be the incarnation of God. He was born Tafari makonnen and later took the name Haile Selassie, meaning Power of the Holy Trinity. The etymology of Rastafari is based on the word ras, meaning “prince” and Haile Selassie’s birth name, Tafari.

July 24

Pioneer Day (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints): This marks the day in 1847 that Brigham Young led other believers in the teachings of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, into the valley of the Great Salt Lake, where they would establish the center of their church and build Salt Lake City.

July 26

Americans with Disabilities Act Signed (United States): Celebrates the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provides for reasonable accommodation in work situations and standards for physical accessibility to buildings and public transportation.

July 29

Tisha B’Av (Jewish): This holiday commemorates the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in both 586 B.C.E. and again in 70 C.E. All Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the evening before the date shown.

We invite you to visit the Web sites used to compile this calendar for additional information. There you will find a wealth of information on days that are recognized throughout the world. Please find the sources listed below:

NASA Goddard encourages and celebrates different faiths – Part 2!


I was hoping to get one for last month, but sadly, I didn’t. That’s okay, though! Matt’s workplace still does these, and it’s nice to see how inclusive they are of all religions. (See all the way at the bottom for Beltane!)

Like the one in February, below is the section of the email sent to all NASA Goddard employees this morning with the holidays for the month of April, including some links at the bottom with additional information and a diversity calendar. And thank you to Matt for sharing!

April 1

All Fools’ Day (International)  The origins of this day are probably in France in 1564 when the change of the Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1.  Those who insisted on celebrating the “old” New Year became known as “April Fools,” and it became common to play jokes and tricks on them.

April 1

Palm Sunday (Christian) Commemorates the day Jesus Christ was given a king’s entry into Jerusalem, marked by the strewing of palm leaves before him.  Marks the beginning of Holy Week, a time of solemn devotion to and memorializing of the suffering (passion), death, and burial of Jesus Christ that followed, begins today.

April 1

Ramanavami (Birthday of Rama) (Hindu).  Celebrates the birth of Shri Rama, one of the incarnates of the Hindu god Vishnu.  Fasting is common on this date.

April 1

La Semana Santa (Holy Week) (Latin America, Spain) Celebrated April 1-8, 2012 this is one of the highest holy days of the year is Easter for Latino Catholics.  Holy week involves solemn processions, masses, and prayer.  Cascarones (confetti-filled, painted egg) is a custom in Mexico and the U.S.

April 2

World Autism Awareness Day (International) A day to acknowledge that autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the world.  As many as 1 in 150 children are affected, and the disease does not discriminate by geography, class or ethnicity.

April 5

Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (Christian) is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles.

April 5

The Memorial of Jesus Christ’s Death/ Lord’s Evening Meal (Jehovah’s Witness)  

On the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., Jesus introduced a special observance that the Bible calls “the Lord’s evening meal.” (1 Corinthians 11:20; Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus instituted it to help his apostles and all true Christians after them to bear in mind that by means of his death as a perfect human, he gave his soul, or life, as a ransom. Regarding this observance, Jesus commanded: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Observing the Memorial reminds us of the great love shown by both Jehovah and Jesus in connection with the ransom. We can show our appreciation for the ransom by being present at the yearly observance of the Memorial of Jesus’ death. This year the anniversary falls on Thursday, April 5, after sundown.  Jehovah’s Witnesses engage in a special campaign a few weeks before the event distributing invitations to neighbors worldwide to attend this most sacred event.  Please check with Jehovah’s Witnesses locally for the exact time and place.

April 6

Good Friday (Christian) Culminates the Lenten season and commemorates the crucifixion of Christ.  There are few explanations as to why the holiday is known as “Good” Friday since it commemorates a sorrowful time in Christianity. Some scholars believe that “good” is a corruption of the word “God’s” while others speculate that “good” was used to denote “holy”.

April 6

National Tartan Day (Canada, U.S.) Tartan Day was established by an act of Congress in 1998 to recognize the role Scottish Americans played in the founding of the nation and to acknowledge the many contributions that have been made by people of Scottish ancestry. Some notable Americans of Scottish descent include John Witherspoon, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Carnegie, Woodrow Wilson, and Sir Alexander Fleming. Tartan Day also commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, on April 6, 1320.

April 7

Passover (Jewish) Am eight day festival marking the liberation of the Isrealites from bondage in Egypt.  Traditionally, the first and last two days are viewed as holy, while dietary restrictions last the entire week. Begins at sundown the previous day.

April 7

The Annunciation (Coptic & Eastern Orthodox Christian) This holy date celebrates the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of Galilee that she would be the mother of Jesus.

April 8

Buddha’s Birthday (Vesak) (Buddhist) Celebrates the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama.  He is thought to have lived in India from 563 to 483 BCE.

April 8

Easter (Christian) This is the holiest day for Christians. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after he was crucified and died in Jerusalem. It is Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, often referred to as the “passion,” followed by his resurrection that is central to Christian faith. Easter culminates the penitential period of Lent that starts with Ash Wednesday. Palm Sunday, which marks the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, occurs one week before Easter. Easter is a joyous holiday, since it marks for Christians the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. Many churches hold sunrise services on Easter Sunday to symbolize the return of light to the world after Jesus’ resurrection. The day is observed with feasts and celebrations. The name “Easter” reflects many pagan customs that are now associated with the holiday. Present day scholars accept St. Bede’s theory that “Easter” is derived from the “Ostern” and “Ostra”, Teutonic and Scandinavian goddess associated with spring and fertility. The Easter egg is an example of the pagan origins of Easter. Pagans believed that eggs symbolized earth being reborn each spring. Christianity adapted this custom to symbolize the rebirth of humanity. Easter eggs were first decorated in the late 13th century C. E. but the most famous eggs were created by Carl Faberge.

April 8

Palm Sunday (Coptic & Eastern Orthodox) Palm Sunday is observed on this day according to the Julian calendar followed by Coptic Orthodox Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Palm Sunday is often called the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem and is the beginning of Holy Week. On Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, believers prepare palm fronds by knotting them into crosses in preparation for the procession on Sunday.

April 13

Vaisakhi (Sikh)  Marks the first day of the Hindu New Year, celebrated in several countries and Indian states.  It is widely celebrated by Sikhs as the day when Guru Gobind Singh chose five leaders, known as the Panch Payare, and declared this day as the birthday of the Sikh nation.

April 13

Good Friday (Coptic & Eastern Orthodox Christian). Also known as Great Friday, this is the day Coptic Orthodox Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion.

April 15

Easter (Coptic & Eastern Orthodox Christian) Easter is celebrated on this day according to the Julian calendar followed by Coptic Orthodox Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians. In the Orthodox church, the celebration of Easter begins just before midnight on Holy Saturday with the lighting of candles during Easter midnight mass.

April 19

Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Ha-Shoah) (Jewish) This day has been designated by Israel’s Knesset, or Parliament, as a memorial to the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis in their program of mass extermination of all Jews in Germany and the countries under German occupation. This program, building on long-standing anti-Semitism, began with arrests and imprisonment of Jews in the early 1930’s and extended in the 1940’s to forcing Jews into slave labor camps and extermination in death camps such as Treblinka, Sobibor, and Auschwitz. May be observed by a fast from sundown the previous day to sundown this day

April 20

National Day of Silence (GLBT)  A day to protest the discrimination, harassment and abuse – in effect, the silencing – of members of the GLBT community.

April 21

Festival of Ridvan (Baha’i)  A 12-day celebration commemorating Baha’u’llah’s stay in the Garden of Ridvan.  During this time, the prophet-founder of the faith made his declaration of his mission as God’s messenger.  Begins at sundown the previous day.

April 22

Earth Day (United States)  First observed in 1970 to call attention to pollution in the environment and the need to conserve natural resources. Now celebrated internationally on various dates as a time to call attention to the need to conserve natural resources.

April 25

Administrative Professionals Day (United States) National Professional Secretaries Week and National Secretary’s Day was created in 1952 as a holiday in recognition of the importance of secretaries.  The National Secretaries Association was formed to recognize the contributions of secretaries and other administrative personnel to the economy, to support their personal development and to help attract people to administrative careers in the field. The association’s name was changed to Professional Secretaries International in 1981 and, finally, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) in 1998. In 2000, IAAP announced that names of the week and the day were changed to Administrative Professionals Week and Administrative Professionals Day to keep pace with changing job titles and expanding responsibilities of the modern administrative workforce. Administrative Professionals Day® highlights the important role of administrative professionals in all sectors of the modern economy worldwide. It is on the Wednesday of Administrative Professionals Week®, which is on the last full week of April. Many employers and supervisors arrange events to show their appreciation of the work carried out by administrative professionals

April 26

Gathering of Nations Powwow (4/23–25) (American Indian)  This three-day event, held annually at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, is the largest powwow in North America. More than five hundred tribes from Canada and the United States come every year to participate in this celebration of American Indian culture, which features drum groups and ceremonial singing, chanting, and dancing in traditional dress. There are exhibitions of American Indian artifacts and authentic Indian crafts for sale. The Gathering of Nations organization seeks to promote the traditions and culture of the American Indian people in the most positive manner possible and to dispel stereotypes created about the Indian people. The powwow provides educators with an opportunity to develop instructional materials on Indian history and culture for elementary and secondary schools. (m)

April 26

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (United States) Parents are encouraged to bring their daughters (and/or sons) to work on this day, and to use this opportunity to educate their children on the nature of employment. Information regarding Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day events at Goddard in Greenbelt is forthcoming, check Dateline later this week.

April 27

Arbor Day (US) Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872, it’s celebrated on the last Friday in April.

April 30

Beltane (Celtic, Pagan) Beltane divided the ancient Celtic year in half.  Fires were often lit to symbolize contact with the life-giving sun.  The holiday is one of the “Greater Sabbats” during the Wiccan year and celebrates the union of the Goddess and God.

April 30

Día de los Niños (Latin Americans) A holiday recognizing children as the center of the Latino family.

We invite you to visit the Web sites used to compile this calendar for additional information. There you will find a wealth of information on days that are recognized throughout the world. Please find the sources listed below:

NASA Goddard encourages and celebrates different faiths.


On the first of every month, my husband’s employer (NASA Goddard) sends out an email with activities and events going on at the Center, including a list of all the celebrations for that month. One would absolutely expect nationally-recognized holidays to be on there, as well as Christian ones as they’re the religious majority.

Surprisingly, though, and this was pointed out to me by Matt when he started working there… they include all faiths! Baha’i, Islam, Hindu, smaller sects of Christianity, Judaism, Humanism, and even Paganism/Wicca! It always shocks me to see a Sabbat there.

Below is the section of the email sent to all NASA Goddard employees this morning with the holidays for the month of February, including some links at the bottom with additional information and a diversity calendar:

February 1

Columbia Disaster (United States) Commemorates the day in 2003 when NASA lost astronauts Anderson, Brown, Chawla, Clark, Husband, McCool, and Ramon during landing. NASA continues to honor the fallen heroes of the STS-107 crew and their dedication to the spirit of exploration and discovery.

February 2 

Groundhog Day (United States) Legend holds that if the groundhog comes out of its hole and sees its shadow, it will go back in and six more weeks of winter and a bad growing season will follow. If it’s cloudy, the groundhog will see no shadow, winter will soon be over, and crops will be good.

February 2 

Candlemas (Christian) Celebrates the presentation of the baby Jesus, the Christians’ Savior, in the Temple of Jerusalem 40 days after his birth. This religious holiday originated with the ancient Jewish custom that required mothers to present their first male child in the temple. As a Jewish mother, Mary would have presented Jesus on February 2. The day is associated with light and purification. The holiday takes its name from the custom of blessing the church’s supply of candles for the year on this date.

February 2 

Imbolc  (Pagan and Wiccan) A celebration of light and the coming of spring; one of the “Greater Sabbats” during the Wiccan year. Imbolc, which, like all Pagan and Wiccan holidays, begins at sundown on the day before, is a celebration of fire and light and the return of life.

February 4

Mawlid al-Nabi (Islamic)  Commemorates the prophet Muhammad’s birthday circa 570. Begins at sundown the previous day.

February 8

Tu B’Shevat (Jewish) Israel’s New Year Celebration for trees, similar to National Arbor Day in the U.S. Jews around the world also observe this holiday. Begins at sundown the previous day.

February 12

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday (United States)  This day commemorates the birth of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), one of the greatest presidents of the United States, who changed the course of history by preserving the American Union during the Civil War, thereby preserving American democracy. In the process of saving the Union, Lincoln issued the historic Emancipation Proclamation, which paved the way for the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ending slavery in the United States. Lincoln’s eloquence and conviction are reflected in such historic speeches as the Gettysburg Address, given at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania during the Civil War, when he declared that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” On this day, wreath-laying ceremonies are held at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Kentucky, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and at Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield, Illinois.

February 12

Darwin Day (Humanist)  A week to promote both an understanding among people of all religions and living according to the principles of fellowship, equality, and justice.

February 13

Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week (Christian, Jewish)  A week to promote both an understanding among people of all religions and living according to the principles of fellowship, equality, and justice.

February 14

Race Relations Day (United States) A holiday designated by some churches to encourage understanding among all races.

February 14

Valentine’s Day (United States) Recognizes the possible execution date around 270 AD of one of two Christian martyrs named Valentine. Legend says that one secretly performed marriages between young people in opposition to the Roman Emperor’s ban on marriage; another had the power to patch up lovers’ quarrels. Since the Middle Ages, this day has been dedicated to romantic love.

February 15

Susan B. Anthony Day (United States) Honors one of the first woman’s rights advocates, working especially for equal suffrage. She was born on this day in 1820.

February 20

Maha Shivaratri (Shiva’s Night) (Hindu) Honors the Lord Shiva, who, on this night, danced the Tandav, believed to be a dance of creation, preservation, and destruction. This festival honors Shiva who, along with Vishnu and Krishna, is one of the most important deities in Hinduism. It is observed in the spring and is celebrated with fasting, prayer, and meditation

February 20

Great Lent begins (Coptic Orthodox Christian) Also known as the Great Fast, this begins the Lenten season for the Coptic Orthodox Christians, who follow the Julian calendar. It begins with a one-week preparatory fast, followed by a 40-day fast commemorating Christ’s fasting on the mountain. The fast of Great Lent, which includes Sundays, officially ends on the Saturday before Holy Week, known as Lazarus Saturday, although fasting continues during Holy Week (Pascha). During this time, no animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, or butter, are allowed. Moreover, no food or drink may be taken between sunrise and sunset.

February 21

President’s Day (United States) A federal holiday that celebrates the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, born February 12, 1809, and George Washington, born February 22, 1732. Present usage often regards this as a day to honor all former U.S. presidents, although the Federal holiday is still Washington’s birthday.

February 21

Mardi Gras (United States) or Fat Tuesday is a boisterous celebration held annually on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the season of Lent begins in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. The actual date varies from year to year since it depends on the date of Easter. Mardi Gras is the culmination of a long carnival season which begins on January 6, the Twelfth Night of Christmas (Epiphany). The custom was brought to the United States by the French who had paraded a fat ox through Paris.

February 21

International Mother Language Day (United Nations) This day was proclaimed by UNESCO on November 17, 1999 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and to celebrate the nearly six thousand languages spoken in the world today. It is observed on February 21 in international recognition of Language Martyrs’ Day in Bangladesh.

February 22

Ash Wednesday (Christian) The first day of Lent, a period of penance and self-examination. The ceremony that gives this day its name includes a priest marking the foreheads of penitents in the sign of the cross as a reminder that they were but ashes and dust. Dietary restrictions apply on all Fridays during Lent.

February 22

George Washington’s Birthday (United States) The birthday of George Washington (1732-1799), hero of the Revolutionary War, president of the Constitutional Convention, and first president of the United States of America, is observed on this day. When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. He became a prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington President. Celebrated for the first time in the late eighteenth century when George Washington was still president, Washington’s Birthday became an official Federal holiday in 1885. The Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968, which took effect in 1971, moved the holiday from February 22 to the third Monday in February. Since state governments are not obliged to adopt Federal holidays and can determine their own legal holidays, some states, such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas, renamed their state holiday “Presidents’ Day,” while other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, and Missouri, chose to observe two separate holidays to commemorate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

February 26

Ayyam-i-Ha (Baha’i) Intercalary Days The days from February 26 to March 1 adjust the Baha’i year, which consists of 19 months with 19 days each month, to the solar calendar. These days are observed with gift-giving and special acts of charity. A time of rejoicing, generosity and welcoming neighbors in preparation for the period of fasting from March 2–20.

February 27

Great Lent begins (Eastern Orthodox Christian)  Also known as Clean Monday in Greece and Green Monday in Cyprus, this begins the Lenten season based on the Julian calendar followed by Eastern Orthodox Christians. Eastern Orthodox Lent, known as Great Lent, includes Sundays and officially ends on Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, although fasting continues during Holy Week. While many people no longer fast for forty days, most people observe the fast strictly for the two weeks preceding Easter

We invite you to visit the Web sites used to compile this calendar for additional information. There you will find a wealth of information on days that are recognized throughout the world. Please find the sources listed below: