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 sharing 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.

More information on Duke holidays is available here at the Duke HR website.


New Year's Day (January 3) The first day of the new year is a Federal and a Duke holiday.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 17): A Federal (and Duke) holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

Black History Month (all month): An annual celebration of Black American culture and acheivements, and a time for recognizing the role Black Americans have played in our history.

Lunar New Year (February 1): 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 Wednesday (March 2): Christian observance to begin the 40 day season of Lent. Ashes are marked on worshippers as a sign of penitence (photo).

Lent (March 2-April 14): Roman Catholic, Eastern and some Protestant churches observe a 40-day period with penitence and fasting.

International Women's Day (March 8): An internationally recognized day to celebrate womanhood and women's sufferage. The entire month of March is also recognized as National Women's History Month.

Eastern Orthodox Lent (March 7-June 2): Also known as Great Lent or the Great Fast, this period is the most important fasting season in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and lasts for 40 days before the feast of Easter.

St. 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.

Nowruz (March 21): Also known as Persian or Iranian new year, Nowruz is celebrated on or around March 21 to mark the coming of spring in the northern hemisphere.

Palm Sunday (March 28): A Christian feast falling on the Sunday before Easter that commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31): An awareness day dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming people while raising awareness of the work that still needs to be done to achieve trans justice.

Ramadan (April 2-May 2): A month of fasting, reflection, prayer, and community observed by people of Muslim faith. Participating adult Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset.

Passover (April 15-23): A major Jewish holiday commemorating the exodus of the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt. Passover lasts for seven days and eight nights and is traditionally held with a dinner called a Seder on the first night.

Good Friday (April 15): A Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus, held the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Easter (April 17): A major Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his burial and crucifixion.

Earth Day (April 22): An annual holiday to celebrate a healthy environment and show support for environmental protection.

Day of Silence (April 23): A student-led national event where people take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ+ people at school.

Eastern Orthodox Easter (April 24):  Many Greek, Russian and other Orthodox churches will observe Easter on Sunday on May 2 this year.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (all month): A month dedicated to celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States and their contributions to our culture and history.

Cinco de Mayo (May 5): A celebration originally held to commemorate the victory of Mexico over France in 1862, which has since become a celebration of Mexican-American culture observed in the United States.

Eid al-Fitr (May 2-3): A Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, celebrated with presents, new clothes, prayer, and visiting friends.

Memorial Day (May 30) - A federal (and Duke) holiday held to honor and mourn military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

LGBTQ Pride Month (all month): Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) month is held each year as a celebration of the contributions the LGBTQ communitiy has made to our history and culture and to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States.

Shavuot (June 4-6): A Jewish celebration of Moses' descent from Mt Sinai with the ten commandments. Plants and flowers are used in decorations.

Juneteenth (June 19): A holiday celebrating the emancipation from slavery in the United States, held on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union Army general Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas. Now a Duke holiday, Juneteenth will be observed on June 20 in 2022.

Independence Day (July 4): A federal and Duke holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States, on July 4, 1776. In 2022 it will be observed on July 4

Eid al-Adha (July 9-13):  A major holiday celebrated in Islam that honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God's command

World Populace Day (July 11): World Populace Day: A holiday established by the United Nations dedicated to focusing on the importance of population issues.

National Disability Independence Day (July 26): This holiday commemorates the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Islamic New Year (July 30): Also called the Hijri New Year or Arabic New Year, is the day that marks the beginning of a new lunar Hijri year, and the day on which the year count is incremented. The new year in the Islamic calendar will be 1444 AH on July 30, 2022.

Women's Equality Day (August 26, photo): A day celebrating the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits state or federal government from denying the right to vote based on sex.

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15): National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans from all of Latin America.

Labor Day (September 5): A federal holiday celebrated on the first Monday of September to honor the American labor movements and its contributions to the United States.

Rosh Hashanah (September 25-27): The Jewish new year, traditionally celebrated with attending synagogue, personal reflection, and eating apples dipped in honey to evoke a sweet new year.

Yom Kippur (October 4-5): A Jewish day of atonement and repentance for one's personal sins and to many Jews the most important holiday of their faith. Jews traditionally observe Yom Kippur with fasting, attending synagogue, resting, and atonement.

Sukkot (October 9-16): Sometimes called the Feast of Tabernacles, is a seven-day Jewish holiday of thanks for the fall harvest.

Indigenous People's Day (October 11): A holiday celebrating and honoring Native Americans, their culture, and their contributions to society.

Diwali (October 14): Diwali 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 symbolizes the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

Halloween (October 31): A celebration observed on the eve of the Catholic holiday All Saint's Day, which has also evolved into a secular celebration of the dead, scary stories, costumes, and "trick or treating" for candy.

Dia de los Muertos (November 1): A Mexican holiday associated with All Saint's Day, celebrated by praying for and remembering departed friends and family members.

Native 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.

Thanksgiving (November 24): 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, and is both a federal and Duke holiday.

Hanukkah (November 28-December 6): Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday celebrating the rededucation of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century A.D. It is often celebrated with the lighting of menorah candles, as well as traditional foods, games, and gifts.

Human Rights Day (December 10): This day commemorates the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. This declaration recognizes that all human beings in all nations have inherent rights and dignity.

Yalda Night (December 21): Also known as Chelleh Night, this Iranian festival marks the longest night of the year. Participants celebrate by uniting with friends and family to eat, drink, and read poetry.

Christmas (photo, December 25): An annual Christian (and Duke) holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, whose birth can be seen in the artwork on the left. Some christians celebrate Christmas 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.