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.


New Year's Day (January 1) The first day of the new year is a Federal and a Duke holiday (observed January 2).

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 16): A Federal (and Duke) holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

Lunar New Year (January 22): 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. In the Chinese zodiac, 2023 will be the year of the rabbit.

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

Ash Wednesday (February 22): Christian observance to begin the 40 day season of Lent. Ashes are marked on worshippers as a sign of penitence.

Lent (February 22-April 6): Roman Catholic, Eastern and some Protestant churches observe a 40-day period with penitence and fasting.

Eastern Orthodox Lent (February 27-April 15): 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.

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.

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.

Ramadan (March 22-April 21): A month of fasting, reflection, prayer, and community observed by people of Muslim faith. Participating adult Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset.

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.

Palm Sunday (April 2): A Christian feast falling on the Sunday before Easter that commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Passover (April 5-13): 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 7): A Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus, held the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Easter (April 9): A major Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his burial and crucifixion.

Eid al-Fitr (April 21-22): A Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, celebrated with presents, new clothes, prayer, and visiting friends.

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

Day of Silence (April 14): 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 16):  Many Greek, Russian, and other Orthodox churches will observe Easter on Sunday on April 16 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.

Memorial Day (May 29) - A federal (and Duke) holiday held to honor and mourn military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Shavuot (May 25-27): A Jewish celebration of Moses' descent from Mt Sinai with the ten commandments. Plants and flowers are used in decorations.

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.

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 19 in 2023.

Eid al-Adha (June 28-30):  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.

Independence Day (July 4): A federal and Duke holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States, on July 4, 1776. In 2023 it will be observed on July 3.

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

Islamic New Year (July 18): 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 1445 AH on July 18, 2023.

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

Women's Equality Day (August 26): 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.

Labor Day (September 4): A federal holiday celebrated on the first Monday of September to honor the American labor movements and its contributions to the United States.

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.

Rosh Hashanah (September 15-17): 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 (September 24-25) 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.

Mawlid (September 26-27): A day celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad in the Islamic faith, starting the evening of September 26 and lasting until the following sunset.

Sukkot (September 29-October 6): Sometimes called the Feast of Tabernacles, is a seven-day Jewish holiday of thanks for the fall harvest.

Indigenous People's Day (October 9): A holiday celebrating and honoring the Indigenous people of North America as well as their culture and contributions to society.

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.

Native American Heritage Month (entire month): Native American Heritage Month is a month-long observation of the Native people of NOrth America, as well as an opportunity to educate the general public about Native nations,  raise awareness about the challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which Indigenous citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

All Saint’s Day (November 1): This day honors all of the holy people who have been canonized in the Catholic Church.

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.

Anniversary of the Crowning of Haile Selassie (November 2): One of the holiest days in the Rastafarian year, this day commemorates the day when Haile Selassie ascended the Ethiopian throne. 

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. In 2023 Veteran’s day will be observed on November 10.

Diwali (November 12-16): 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.”

Transgender Day of Rememberance (November 20): This annual observance honors the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

Guru Nanak Ji’s Birthday (November 27):  This day commemorates the birth of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Ji.

Thanksgiving (November 23): 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 (December 7-15): Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication 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 (December 25): An annual Christian (and Duke) holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. 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.

New Year's Eve (December 31): The final night of the year, often celebrated by staying up until the start of the next calendar year at midnight.