Interfaith Calendar and Inclusive Holiday Observations

The students, faculty, staff, and trainees of the School of Medicine hold a wide variety of religious backgrounds and celebrate many different holidays and observances.

To assist you in planning your meetings, conferences and events for the new year, we are presenting an interfaith calendar of observances, built primarily from a calendar from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). This calendar provides a broad but not comprehensive review days of significance within major faith traditions, as well as ethnic and cultural celebrations.

We encourage you to use these tools to help select meeting dates and avoid the unintentional exclusion of those whose religious beliefs/faith traditions are not currently observed as official Duke holidays. While Duke does not designate time away from work for all the religious observances listed in this calendar, colleagues wishing to observe an undesignated holiday may use discretionary/vacation time.

April 2020


Passover (April 8-16): Also called Pesach, this eight-day holiday celebrates the delivery of Jews from slavery in Egypt. Jews recount the story of Exodous and celebrate the ongoing struggle of all people from internal and external tyranny. A special meal called a seder is also included.

Good Friday (April 10): Christian remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus and related events.

Easter (April 12): The most holy of Christian sacred days. The day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his death by crucifixion. Observances include worship services beginning at sunrise, special music, feasting, and parades.

Day of Silence (April 17): A student-led national event where people take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ+ people at school.

Ramadan (April 23-May 23): The ninth month on Islamic calendar, devoted to the commemoration of Muhammad's reception of the divine revelation recorded in the Qur'an. The event begins when authorities in Saudi Arabia sight the new moon of the ninth month. It is the holiest period of the Islamic Year. There is strict fasting from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan traditonally starts, and is associated with, a crescent moon (photo).

May 2020

memorial day

Eid al-Fitr (May 23-24): Islamic Festival of Sacrifice. The day after Arafat, the most important day of Ramadan.

Memorial Day (May 25): (photo) Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday observed for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces.

Shavuout (May 28-30): Jewish celebration of Moses' descent from Mt Sinai with the ten commandments. Plants and flowers are used in decorations.

June 2020


Juneteenth (June 19): Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S.


July 2020

Independence Day

Independence Day (July 4): a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which is often celebrated with fireworks.

Tisha B’Av (July 29-30): Annual day of fasting and the culmination
 of a three week period that marks the destruction of the Holy Temple in

Eid al-Adha (July 30-31): Islamic Festival of Sacrifice. The day after Arafat, the most important day in Hajj ritual. A three-day festival recalling Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah.

September 2020

National Hispanic Heritage Month PD

Labor Day (September 7): Labor day is a U.S. holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country.

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15): National Hispanic Heritage Month is a nationally recognized 30-day period in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the group's heritage and culture. The photo on the left displays flags from across Latin America.

Rosh Hashanah (September 18-20): Jewish New Year. A time of introspection, abstinence, prayer and penitence. The story of Abraham is read, the ram's horn is sounded, and special foods are prepared and shared.

Yom Kippur (September 27-28): The Jewish Day of Atonement. This holiest day of the Jewish year is observed with strict fasting and ceremonial repentance.

October 2020


Sukkot (October 2-9): The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles which celebrates the harvest and the protection of the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness dwelling in tents. Temporary dwelling places have leaves for a roof so the sky can be seen. In temperate climates, night is spent in the Succoth.

Indigenous People’s Day (October 12): A holiday that celebrates and honors the Indigenous peoples of America and commemorates their shared history and culture.

Halloween (October 31): A holiday involving costumes and celebration. Halloween activities include children going door to door to "trick-or-treat" for candy, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

November 2020

Diwali Samrath MedirattaNative American Heritage Month (entire month): A time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.<

Veteran's Day (November 11): Veteran's Day is a United States federal holiday observed annually on November 11, honoring and remembering all those who have served in the United States  Armed Forces.

Diwali (November 14): Diwali (photo) is the Hindu festival of lights, which typically lasts five days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November). One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

Thanksgiving (November 26): A day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year; Thanksgiving is observed on the 4th Thursday of November.

December 2020

ChristmasHanukkah (December 10-18): Also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BCE. Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the first day of the holiday and end an hour after sundown on the final day.

Christmas (December 25): An annual Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, whose birth can be seen in the artwork on the left. Some christians celebrate Christmad on different days of the year in addition to the 25th.

Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1): An African-American and Pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture, Kwanzaa is a secular observance with some religious participation. Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates a different life virtue.

January 2021

New YearNew Year's Day (January 1) (photo) The first day of the new year is a Federal and a Duke holiday.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 18): A Federal  (and Duke) holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

February 2021

Lunar New Year (February 12): The start of a 15-day festival for Chinese (and many Asian) people of all religions. Family reunions with thanksgiving and remembrance of departed relatives take place. Traditionally a religious ceremony honors Heaven and Earth.

Ash WednesdayAsh Wednesday (February 17): Christian observance to begin the 40 day season of Lent. Ashes are marked on worshippers as a sign of penitence (photo).

Lent (February 17-March 29): Roman Catholic, Eastern and some Protestant churches observe a 40-day period with penitence and fasting.

March 2021

St PatrickSt. Patrick's Day (March 17): Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (photo), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.