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 1).

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15): 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 achievements, and a time for recognizing the role Black Americans have played in our history.

Lunar New Year (February 10): 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, 2024 will be the year of the dragon.

Ash Wednesday (February 14): Christian observance to begin the 40 day season of Lent. Ashes are marked on worshippers as a sign of penitence.

Lent (February 14-March 28): 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 suffrage. The entire month of March is also recognized as National Women's History Month.

Ramadan (March 10-April 9): A month of fasting, reflection, prayer, and community observed by people of Muslim faith. Participating adult Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset.

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, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Eastern Orthodox Lent (March 18-May 4): 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.

Nowruz (March 19): 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 24): A Christian feast falling on the Sunday before Easter that commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Good Friday (March 29): A Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus, held the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Easter (March 31): A major Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his burial and crucifixion.

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.

Eid al-Fitr (April 10-11): A Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, celebrated with presents, new clothes, prayer, and visiting friends.

Day of Silence (April 12): A student-led national event where people take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ+ people at school.

Passover (April 22-30): 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.

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

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.

Eastern Orthodox Easter (May 5):  Many Greek, Russian, and other Orthodox churches will observe Easter on Sunday on May 5 this year.

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 27) - 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 11-13): A Jewish celebration of Moses' descent from Mount Sinai with the ten commandments. Plants and flowers are used in decorations.

Eid al-Adha (June 16-17):  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.

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 2024.