Religious Observances for the Academic Term

The University of Cincinnati recognizes the diverse faith traditions represented in the Bearcat community. UC supports the rights of faculty staff, and students to observe according to their faith traditions.

The posted list is a non-exhaustive collection of major religious holidays and/or festivals. The absence of a particular holiday or festival of a student’s faith or religious or spiritual belief system should not be used to deny an accommodation. At the bottom of this page you will find a short description of each observance.
Holiday Faith 2023-24 Academic Year 2024-25 Academic Year
Paryushan Jain Sept 11 to Sept 18 Aug 31 to Sept 7
Arbaʽeen Islam  Sept 5 Aug 24
Rosh Hashanah Jewish  Sept 15 to Sept 17 Oct 2 to Oct 4
Yom Kippur Jewish  Sept 24 to Sept 25 Oct 11 to Oct 12
Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (Sunni) Islam  Sept 26 to Sept 27 Sept 15 to Sept 16
Sukkot Jewish  Sept 29 to Oct 6   Oct 16 to Oct 23
Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah Jewish  Oct 6 to Oct 7 Oct 23 to Oct 24
Diwali Hindu  Nov 12 Nov 1
Birth of the Báb Baha’i  Oct 16 Oct 26
Birth of Bahá’u’lláh Baha’i  Oct 17 Oct 27
Hanukkah Jewish  Dec 7 to Dec 15 Dec 25 to Jan 2
Christmas Christian  Dec 25 Dec 25
Feast of Epiphany Christian  Jan 6 Jan 6
Eastern Orthodox Christmas Orthodox Christian  Jan 7 Jan 7
Sankranti Hindu  Jan 15 Jan 14
Lunar New Year Interfaith / National  Feb 10 Jan 29
Birthday of ʽAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib Islam  Jan 25 Jan 13
Ash Wednesday Christian  Feb 14 Mar 5
Eastern Orthodox Beginning of Lent Orthodox Christian  Mar 18 Mar 3
Purim (Feast of Esther) Jewish  Mar 23 to Mar 24 Mar 13 to Mar 14
Nowruz Interfaith / National / Bahai / Zoroastrianism  Mar 19 to Mar 20 Mar 21 to Mar 22
Ramadan Islam  Mar 11 to Apr 9 Feb 27 to Mar 29
Good Friday Christian  Mar 29 Apr 18
Easter Christian  Mar 31 Apr 20
Passover (Pesach) Jewish  Apr 22 to Apr 30 Apr 13 to Apr 19
Vaisakhi Sikh  Apr 13 Apr 13
Eastern Orthodox Good Friday Orthodox Christian  May 3 Apr 18
Eastern Orthodox Easter (Pascha) Orthodox Christian  May 5 Apr 20
Ridván Baha’i  Apr 20 to May 2 Apr 20 to May 2
Eid al-Fitr Islam  Apr 9 to Apr 10 Mar 31 to Apr 1
Ascension Day Christian  May 9 May 29
Vesak (Theravada) Buddhism  May 22 May 12
Declaration of the Báb Baha’i  May 22 to May 23 May 22 to May 23
Eastern Orthodox Ascension Day Orthodox Christian  May 9 May 29
Shavuot Jewish Jun 11 to Jun 13 Jun 1 to Jun 3
Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh Baha’i  May 27 to May 28 May 27 to May 28
Vesak (Mahayana) Buddhism  Apr 23 Apr 8
Holy Day of Arafah Islam  Jun 15 Jun 6
Eid al-Adh Islam  Jun 16 to Jun 17 Jun 7 to Jun 8
Eid al-Ghadeer Islam  Jun 24 to Jun 25 Jun 14 to Jun 15
Martyrdom of the Báb Bahá'í Jul 8 to Jul 8 Jul 8 to Jul 9
Shabbat Jewish  All Fri sunset to Sat sunset All Fri sunset to Sat sunset

*Occurs during University of Cincinnati Winter Holiday

Eid al-Gha​​​​​​​deer

Eid al-Ghadeer is named after the event in which Shia Muslims believe that the cousin of Prophet Muhammad, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was appointed as a leader and religious authority after the Prophet. Shia Muslims celebrate this day is various way such as taking ritual baths, giving presents, praying, wearing new clothes and eat meals together.

1st of Muharram (Islamic New Year)

This event takes place during the first month (Muharram) of the Muslim lunar calendar. There is no set practice on how to celebrate the new year, but Muslims are encouraged to pray, fast, and recite the Qur’an.

10th of Muharram (Ashura)

This is a day for mourning and fasting to show gratitude to God for saving Moses and his followers by parting the red sea. Muharram is the second holiest month after Ramadan and is a time for reflection and penance.


Paryushan is a huge festival for the entire Jain community living across the world. The word “Paryushan” can be broken up into two words. Pari means to recollect yourself and Vasan means at a place. Therefore, it means to know yourself or recollect yourself at a place in your spirit. Jains fast on the first or last days of this 8-day cycle.


Arba’een is a Shia religious observance that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura. It commemorates the martyrdom of Al-Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, who was martyred on the 10th day of the month Muharram.

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one of Judaism’s holiest days meaning “head of the year” or “first of the year”. The festival begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, which falls during September or October. Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism and Samaritanism. It occurs annually on the 10th of Tishrei, the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Primarily centered on atonement and repentance, the day's observances consist of full fasting and ascetic behavior accompanied by intensive prayer as well as sin confessions.

Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (Sunni)

Most Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad on the 12th day of the third month of the Islamic calendar, Rabi’ al-Awaal. Muslims view the celebration, called Mawlid al-Nabi or simply the Mawlid, like many other Islamic celebrations: as a sign of respect and adoration of Muhammad, whom they believe to be God’s messenger.


Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the miraculous protection God provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt. The sukkah represents the huts that farmers would live in during the last hectic period of harvest before the coming of the winter rains.

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

Shemini Atzeret ("Eighth [day of] Assembly") is a Jewish holiday. It is celebrated on the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei in the Land of Israel, and on the 22nd and 23rd outside the Land, usually coinciding with late September or early October. It directly follows the Jewish festival of Sukkot, which is celebrated for seven days, and thus Shemini Atzeret is literally the eighth day. It is a separate—yet connected—holy day devoted to the spiritual aspects of the festival of Sukkot. Part of its duality as a holy day is that it is simultaneously considered to be both connected to Sukkot and a separate festival.


Diwali is known as “The Festival of Lights”. This holiday celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and the human ability to overcome. Some traditions of this celebration include lamps in the street and in houses to overcome darkness. Fireworks are part of this celebration as well.

Birth of the Báb

On October 20, 1819, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad would become known as the Bab which means “Gate” in Arabic. It was his mission to signal the coming of this promised manifestation of God. In the Bahai’ calendar, the Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha’u’llah are celebrated on day after another and are considered “Twin Holy Days”. This is one of the happiest and most delightful times of the year throughout the Baha’i community.

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh

Mirza Husayn-Ali also known as Baha’u’llah was born in Tehran, Iran on November 12, 1817. Baha’u’llah means “Glory of God” in Arabic, and He is the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. He is celebrated alongside the Birth of Bab. These Twin Holy Days are celebrated closely and remembered together.


This is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by lighting candles on each day of the festival. Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights and is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games, and gifts.


Christmas is a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that we inherited sinful nature from the first human beings God created, Adam and Eve. Jesus, fully man and fully God, was born on Earth as an infant to pay the price for our sins and save humanity. Most traditions include exchanging gifts because God sent us the ultimate gift, his only son.

Feast of Epiphany

This holiday is celebrated 12 days after Christmas to remember when the Three Kings visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Celebration for the Epiphany differs based on culture. A popular tradition in many cultures is eating King’s Cake and putting a small figure of baby Jesus in it to represent the Kings search for baby Jesus.

Eastern Orthodox Christmas

Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. This is a day of reflection, inner thoughts, and healing in many Eastern countries. Many Orthodox Christians fast before the celebration and exclude meat and any dairy products. The feast is shared with the company of family and friends.


The word Sankranti means movement of the sun from one zodiac to another in Indian astronomy. In different regions of India, people will worship the Sun God, Suya, by going to temples and taking a cleansing bath in the Ganges River. They celebrate the harvest of new crops along with kite flying, bonfires, carnival, song, and dance.

Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year also known as the Chinese New Year is a very important celebration of the year for East and Southeast cultures, including Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities. This holiday is a time for feasting and to honor household and heavenly spirits.

Birthday of ʽAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib

ʽAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib was among the first Muslims and was a cousin and son-in-law to the Prophet Muhammad. Ali spent most of his time bringing the empire to order after the first civil war of the Islamic empire. Shia Muslims consider him an heir of Muhammad’s position and first in long series of their spiritual leaders. Ali and his household have made sacrifice that have immortalized them in Islamic History.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40- day season (not including Sundays) that focuses on fasting, repentance, reflection, and celebration. On this day, the Priest administers ashes during mass, and all are invited to receive this symbol of penance.

Eastern Orthodox Beginning of Lent

Great Lent is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, and it always falls on the 7th Monday before Orthodox Easter. This religious observance is used for a day of fasting, reflection, and spiritual purification. The first week of Great Lent is also called Pure Week.


Purim is a Jewish festival that commemorates the survival of the Jews who were marked for death by their Persian rulers. Typical things that happen during celebration is reading the scroll in the morning and at night, dressing up in costume, and giving gifts of pastries or food to the family, friends, and the poor.


The word Nowruz means new day. This day observance marks the first day of spring and it celebrates the astronomical vernal equinox. It is celebrated at the beginning of the year by more than 300 million people from Central Asia, the Middle east, and other regions.


Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar in which Muslims believe the Quran began to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims use this holy month to pray, worship, fast from sunrise to sunset and to study the Quran. Ramadan is used to build a stronger relationship with Allah and to ensure all their actions are selfless, purposeful, and righteous. Laylat-al-Qadr/Laitlat-Ul-Qadr, known as the Night of Power, is believed to have taken place on one of the final ten nights of Ramadan in 610 CE, but the exact night is unclear. The date of the annual commemoration varies throughout the Islamic world, during the last five odd nights (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, and 29th) of Ramadan. This night commemorates when God first revealed the Qur’an to the prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.

Good Friday

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter, and it commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Fasting is a traditional way to observe this day. Christians believe Jesus’ death was the ultimate sacrifice to all mankind. Easter follows this holiday and celebrates the resurrection of Christ.


Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion. Over 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins even though he lived a perfect and blameless life. Easter is the joyful end to the Lenten season of fasting and patience.


This holiday commemorates the story of the Israelites’ abolition from slavery in Egypt. Jews celebrate this day with a weeklong festival that includes rituals, the traditional Passover meal, and the removal of leavened (anything made with yeast) products from their home.


Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, is a spring festival to celebrate the year when Sikhism was born as a collective faith. Before going to the festival many Sikhs may go to the temple to pray and hold religious services.

Eastern Orthodox Good Friday

For many Greek Orthodox Christians, Great Friday is a strict day of fasting. During the liturgy (service) 12 sections from the gospel are read. Some traditions include people passing under a table at church and then lighting the candle after the church bell rings. This is believed to wash the sins away. Families also spend time decorating Easter eggs before the Easter celebration.

Religious Observances for the Academic Term

Eastern Orthodox Easter (Pascha)

Pascha means Passover in the Orthodox Church. Orthodox Christians have a feast to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The service begins before midnight which is the eve of Pascha Sunday. The church is darkened with no light or candles. Then the priest stands at the altar and lights a white candle while singing songs. The congregation then lights their candles and use their lit candles to light others around them. The famous Pascha Homily of St. John Chrysostom is read at the end of service and the congregation then rejoices that Jesus has risen!


Ridván is a 12-day festival that celebrates the birth of the Baha’i Faith in 1863 founded by Bahá'u'lláh, when he declared that he was the Manifestation of God. Paradise is the meaning of “Ridván” and is named for the Garden of Ridván outside Baghdad, where Bahá'u'lláh stayed for 12 days. The celebration typically falls on April 20th or 21st two hours before sunset, symbolizing the time that Bahá'u'lláh entered the garden. Baha'is celebrate The Ninth Day of Ridván by engaging in a festival of joy and unity. Baha’i Faith was banished in the Ottoman Empire and followers were pushed out and ended up near the eastern bank of Tigris River in the Garden of Ridván. On the ninth day in the garden, the flooding of the river receded so followers and Bahá'u'lláh’s family could cross and were able to join him. The family being reunited inspires the symbolic ninth day. On the twelfth day, Bahá'u'lláh and his family left the garden on started their journey to Constantinople. This 12-day festival signifies the anniversary of Bahá'u'lláh declaring the mission to his followers.

Eid al-Fitr

This holiday is the “Festival of Breaking Fast”, and it marks the end of Ramadan. Muslims use an Islamic calendar which leads to Ramadan falling in any season of the year. Eid-al-Fitr is a time of community, where presents are given, new clothes are worn, and graves of relatives are visited.

Ascension Day

Feast of Ascension, also known as Ascension Day, celebrates when Jesus ascended to heaven. Christians believe that after Christ was crucified and died on Good Friday, he was resurrected Easter, and stayed on Earth for forty days to guide his disciples on how to carry out his teachings. At the end of the fortieth day. Jesus went to Mount Olivet and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God.  Ascension Day occurs on the Thursday situated 40 (or 39) days after Easter.

Vesak (Theravada)

Vesak, also spelled Wesak, is important of the Theravada Buddhist festivals, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. Buddhists celebrate Vesak by decorating their temples with flowers and other decorations. The raising of the Buddhist flags is done before dawn while singing hymns at the temple as well. Lastly, this holiday is celebrated with acts of kindness and charity work by the Buddhists.

Declaration of the Báb

It commemorates the day in 1844 when Báb announced that he was the new messenger of God. The holiday commences two hours and eleven minutes after sunset on May 22nd, which is the approximate time that Báb made his declaration. Bahái’s celebrate this holiday by gathering together and sharing prayers, stories, and reflections. This day is one of the nine holy days in Bahái’s Faith where school and work are suspended.

Eastern Orthodox Ascension Day

Ascension Day is celebrated on Thursday and the 40th day after Easter. Orthodox Ascension Day, also known as the Feast of Ascension, is an important holiday for members of the church. During this time, observers reflect and give gratitude while celebrating Jesus' ultimate sacrifice.


Shavuot is also called the “Feast of Weeks”. It celebrates the completion of the seven-week counting period after Passover. Shavuot combines two major religious observances, which is the grain harvest of the early summer and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai seven weeks after the exodus of Judas.

Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh

This holiday commemorates the anniversary of the death of Bahá'u'lláh, who is the founder of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá'u'lláh became a follower of Báb, who preached that God would soon send another prophet like Jesus. Bahá'u'lláh was exiled in 1863 and he declared that he was the expected prophet. Bahá’ís have since then seen Bahá'u'lláh to be the Manifestation of God. The Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh is celebrated by gathering in devotion and prayer.

Vesak (Mahayana)

Vesak is the most holiday of Theravada Buddhism. Vesak or Visakha Puja is an observation of the birth, enlightenment, and the death of the historical Buddha. Flowers and offerings are brought to the temples where one can meditate and listen to talks. Observances also include releasing wild animals, insects, and birds to symbolize the freedom of enlightenment. In some cities this day is celebrated by parades, parties, and festival along with the Temples and city streets that could be decorated with an abundance of lanterns.

Holy Day of Arafah

The Holy Day of Arafah, is also known as the Day of the Standing which, is the holiest day of the Hijiri lunar year. Arafah is the ninth day of Dhu-’l-Hijjah, which is the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar. Arafah was the day on which Allah perfected his religion, completed His favors upon Prophet Muhammad, and approved Islam as a way of life. Believers fast, recite readings, and seek forgiveness from Allah.

Eid al-Adha

“Festivals of Sacrifice”, also known as Eid al-Adha, is the second of the two great Muslim festivals. It is celebrated by having a communal prayer at daybreak on its first day. It starts on the 10th of Dhū al-Ḥijjah, which is the last month of the Islamic calendar, and continues for 3 days. Families who can sacrifice an animal do so and divide the flesh among themselves, the poor, and their neighbors.

Eid al-Ghadeer

Eid al Ghadeer is named after the event in which Shia Muslims believe that the cousin of Prophet Muhammad, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was appointed as a leader and religious authority after the Prophet. Shia Muslims celebrate this day is various way such as taking ritual baths, giving presents, praying, wearing new clothes, and eating meals together.

Martyrdom of the Báb

This holiday commemorates the 1850 execution of the co-founder of the Baha’i faith, the Báb. Bab was ordered to ne shot by the Prime Minister of the Persian Empire. There is still uncertainty and interpretations about his execution. For many years after his death, Báb followers moved his body around to avoid desecrations. He was finally laid to rest at the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa in the middle terrace of the Bahá'í Gardens.


The Shabbat (Sabbath) is a weekly 25-hour observance from before sundown through nightfall on Saturday. Shabbat has its origins where this day is a complete cessation of labor. There are many varieties of observances and customs of this celebration around the world. Three Shabbat meals are to be had with special sanctifications recited over wine. The meals are paired with studying, singing, and celebrating together.