Religious Festivals

The Happy Cultural Planner

The Happy Cultural Planner is a free document you can download, print and use. See below for a full list of the 2019 festivals, along with their meanings, to help plan for the year ahead.


Download 2019 Cultural Planner


Happy Ltd makes no claim of allegiance to, or expertise in, any particular faith or interest group.

The aim of this Planner is to raise awareness of cultural/religious festivals and awareness days which may have significance to communities represented in your workplace.  By doing this, we hope to foster interest and understanding of each other’s beliefs and encourage respect for different worldviews.

Whilst every effort has been made to cover as many significant events as fairly as possible, space is limited and the list is necessarily abbreviated.  Significant omissions are therefore unintentional.  If you feel an important event has been missed out, misrepresented or is just plain wrong, please contact and we will correct the online version as soon as possible and the hard copy for next year.

Celebrate – Remember – Respect

  Secular & International Days

25 Jan Burns’ Night
27 Jan Holocaust Memorial Day
5 Feb Vietnamese/Chinese New Year
The start of the year on the Chinese calendar, also know as Tết in Vietnam.
14 Feb Valentine’s Day
Based on legends of Saint Valentine, who performed secret marriages while they were banned by Emperor Claudius II. Another legend tells of an imprisoned Valentine signing secret letters to the jailer’s daughter as “your Valentine”.
1 Mar St. David’s Day
Celebration of the patron saint of Wales.
8 Mar International Women’s Day
17 Mar St. Patrick’s Day
Celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.
18 Mar Sign Language Week starts
20 Mar International Day of Happiness
26 Mar Bangladesh Independence Day
Commemorates the declaration of independence in 1971.
31 Mar Mother’s Day
A traditional time for children to celebrate and thank their mothers, giving them cards, gifts and flowers.
23 Apr St. George’s Day
Celebration of the patron saint of England.
6 May Deaf Awareness Week starts
13 May Mental Health Awareness Week starts
16 Jun Father’s Day
A more recent parallel to Mother’s Day for fathers, established in the early 20th Century by a daughter who wanted to express her appreciation for her single father.
7 Jul Pride (London)
14 Jul Bastille Day
The French national holiday, celebrating the uprising of the modern French nation, particularly the storming of the Bastille.
14 Aug Pakistan Independence Day
Commemorates the creation of Pakistan when India was partitioned
15 Aug Indian Independence Day
Commemorates the independence of India, as it left the British Empire.
1 Oct Black History Month starts
31 Oct Halloween
5 Nov Bonfire Night
10 Nov Remembrance Sunday
11 Nov Armistice Day
19 Nov International Men’s Day
30 Nov St. Andrew’s Day
Celebration of the patron saint of Scotland.
1 Dec World AIDS Day
3 Dec International Day for People with Disabilities
31 Dec New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay

 UK Bank Holidays

1 Jan New Year’s Day
2 Jan New Year Holiday (Scotland only)
18 Mar St Patrick’s Day (N.Ireland only)
19 Apr Good Friday
22 Apr Easter Monday (not Scotland)
6 May May Day
27 May Late May Bank Holiday
2 Jul Battle of the Boyne (N. Ireland only)
5 Aug August Bank Holiday (Scotland only)
26 Aug August Bank Holiday (not Scotland)
2 Dec St Andrew’s Day (Scotland only)
25 Dec Christmas Day
26 Dec Boxing Day


6 Jan Ceremonial Birthday of Haile Selassie
A celebration of the birth of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who Rastafarians recognise as Messiah and God, with music, song and prayer.
21 Apr Groundation Day
23 Jul Birthday of Haile Selassie
A celebration of the birth of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who Rastafarians recognise as Messiah and God, with music, song and prayer.
17 Aug Marcus Garvey’s birthday
2 Nov Crowning of Emperor Selassie
The high priest reads biblical passages and initiates singing to remember Emperor Selassie.

 Christian – All traditions unless stated

6 Jan Epiphany
Epiphany remembers the wise men visiting Jesus.
5 Mar Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)
6 Mar Ash Wednesday (start of Lent)
14 Apr Palm Sunday, Holy Week starts
18 Apr Maundy Thursday (end of Lent)
19 Apr Good Friday
A day to commemorate the execution of Jesus on the cross.
19 Apr Lord’s Evening Meal (Jehovah’s Witness)
21 Apr Easter Sunday
Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The most important Christian festival and the one celebrated with most joy.
30 May Ascension of Jesus (Roman Catholic)
9 Jun Pentecost
The festival where Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, 50 days after Easter. Regarded as the birthday of the Christian church.
20 Jun Corpus Christi (Roman Catholic)
15 Aug Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic)
1 Nov All Saints Day (Roman Catholic)
A day to honour all saints and martyrs of the church.
9 Dec Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic)
25 Dec Christmas
The day celebrating the birth of Jesus.
31 Dec Watch Night (Pentecostal)

 Eastern Orthodox Christian

1 Jan Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
7 Jan Nativity of the Lord (Orthodox Christmas)
19 Jan Theophany
15 Feb Presentation of the Lord
11 Mar Start of Great Lent
7 Apr Annunciation
21 Apr Palm Sunday/Start of Holy Week/end of Great Lent
26 Apr Holy Friday
28 Apr Pascha
6 Jun Ascension
16 Jun Pentecost
19 Aug Transfiguration of the Lord
28 Aug Dormition of the Theotokos
21 Sep Nativity of the Theotokos
27 Sep Elevation of the Holy Cross
4 Dec Presentation of the Theotokos


1 Feb Imbolc
Celebrates the land’s awakening and the growing power of the sun.
20 Mar Ostara (Spring Equinox)
Celebrates the renewed life of the Earth.
1 May Beltane
A fire festival, celebrates the coming of summer with maypole dances.
24 Jun Litha
1 Aug Lughnasadh-Lammas
The beginning of the harvest season.
21 Sept Mabon
31 Oct Samhain/Halloween
The Feast of the Dead. A time to remember and honour the dead.
22 Dec-2 Jan Yule
Yule, when the sun child is reborn.


15-19 Jan Makar Sankranti
This winter festival celebrates the Sun-God’s entry into the Northern Hemisphere.
4 Mar Maha Shivarati
Devotion and thanks are shown to Lord Shiva, who danced his cosmic dance this night. Many Hindus fast.
20-21 Mar Holi
Holi is a festival that welcomes the spring, which also celebrates Krishna, and the legend of Holika and Prahalad. Bonfires are lit to celebrate.
14 Apr Rama Navami
The birthday of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu and the hero of the Ramayana.
15 Aug Raksha Bandhan
“Raksha Bandhan” means “a thread for protection”. Sisters tie a thread bracelet around their brothers’ wrists, and receive gifts in return.
24 Aug Janamashtami/Krishna Jayanti
The birthday of Krishna. Many Hindus forego sleep for the 48 hours, and some fast.
2 Sep  Ganesha Chaturthi
29 Sep-8 Oct Navaratri/Durga Puja/Dusserah
Navaratri (nine nights) is a festival in which God is adored as Mother.
7 Oct Dussehra
27 Oct Diwali (Deepvali)
Diwali, the festival of light, extends over five days and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.

 Buddhist – All traditions unless stated

13 Jan Bodhi Day
2 Feb Buddha Day (South Korea)
5-7 Feb Losar (Tibetan New Year)
15 Feb Nirvana Day (Mahayana)
The Buddha’s death, celebrated because he attained total Enlightenment, or Nirvana.
13-16 Feb Songkran/Bun Pi Mai (SE Asia)
19 Feb Magha Puja/Sangha (Thailand,Cambodia,Laos)
 20 Feb Chunga Choepa (Tibetan)
29 May Vaishaka Puja/Vesak
A celebration of the Buddha’s birthday, celebrated with much colour. In some countries there are special Vesak lanterns made, and caged birds are released.


26 Feb-1Mar Ayyám-i-Há (Intercalary Days)
21 Mar Naw Rúz
21 Apr-2 May Ridvan
1st, 9th, 12th are holy days
24 May Declaration of the Bab
29 May Ascension of Baha’u’llah
10 Jul Martyrdom of the Bab
26 Nov Day of the Covenant
28 Nov Ascension of Abdu’l Baha
30 Nov Twin Holy Birthdays

 Zoroastrian / Persian

2-20 Feb Nouruz
16-20 Mar Frawardigan
21 Mar Sadeh
27 Mar Khordad Sal
22 Dec Shab e Yalda
26 Dec Zartosht No Diso

 Chinese / Taoist

5-10 Feb Yuan Tuan (New Year~Pig)
19 Feb Yuan Xiao (Lantern Festival
8 Mar Zhonghe (Blue Dragon Festival)
5 Apr Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day)
7 Jun Duanwu (Dragon Boat Festival)
7 Jul Qixi (Double 7th or Chinese Valentine’s Day)
15 Aug Zhongyuan (Hungry Ghost Festival)
7 Oct Chonyang (Double Ninth) Festival
22 Dec Dongzhi Festival

 Japanese / Shinto

1 Jan Gantan sai
13 Jan Rohatsu
15 Jan Dōsojin
3 Feb Setsuban
8 Apr Hana Matsuri
29 Apr-5 May Shōwa no Hi
15 Aug Obon
 16 Sep  Keirō no Hi
 14 Nov  Daijōsai
 29 Dec-3 Jan Hatsumode
 31 Dec  Ōmisoka


2 Feb Meru Trayodashi
20 Mar Chaumasi Chaudas
17 Apr Shri Mahavir Jayanti
27 Aug Paryushana Parvarambha
27 Oct Diwali


5 Jan Birthday of Guru Gobindh Singh
The tenth and last Guru, who created the order of Khalsa and instituted the Five ‘Ks’.
 19 Feb Maghi
14 Apr Baisakhi (Vaisakhi)
The Sikh New Year festival, which also commemorates Sikhism being born as a collective faith in 1699.
16 Jun Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev
Guru Ajan compiled the Sikh scriptures for the first time, and on this day was executed.
20 Oct Guru Granth Jayanti
11 Nov Diwali
A Sikh festival as well as Hindu. Sikhs celebrate the release from prison of Guru Hargobind Singh during this time.
12 Nov Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Jayanti
24 Nov Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur
A champion of religious freedom, executed for refusing to convert to Islam.


21 Jan Tu B’Shevat
21 Mar Purim
Commemorates the time when Persian Jews were saved from extermination by a woman called Esther.
20-27 Apr Passover (Pesach)
A festival celebrating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, led by Moses, and a general celebration of freedom.
(No work permitted on first and last days).
  Work Permitted April 22-25 with restrictions.
3 May Yom HaShoah
23 May Lag B’Omer
8-10 Jun Shavuot
Marks the time when the Jews received the Torah. Prayers are said, especially at dawn, to thank God for the five books of Moses.
11 Aug Tish’a B’Av
A fast day commemorating several calamities that have occurred on this same day in the Jewish calendar. Known as “the saddest day in Jewish history”.
30 Sept Rosh Hashana
Jewish New Year, commemorating the creation of the world.
9 Oct Yom Kippur
The Day of Atonement, when God decides how the next year will be for each person. Those who have repented for their sins will be granted a happy New Year.
14 Oct Sukkot
Sukkot celebrates the Jews’ years in the desert on the way to the Promised Land, and is celebrated by building huts.
(No work permitted Oct 14 & 15).
  Work permitted Oct 16-18 & Oct 20 with restrictions.
20 Oct Hoshanah Rabbah
21 Oct Shemini Atzeret
Shemini Atzeret is the final day of festivities at the end of Sukkot.
22 Oct Simchat Torah
Meaning “Rejoicing in the Torah”, this day marks the end of the yearly cycle of weekly Torah readings.
23-30 Dec Hanukkah
The Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrated for eight days. It commemorates the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom. During Hanukkah, Jews light one more candle each night.


3 Apr Lailat-Al-Miraj
The night journey and ascent of the Prophet Muhammad, celebrated by the telling of the story of how he was visited by two archangels.
21 Apr Lailat-Al-Bara’ah
“The Night of Freedom from Fire”, in which Muslims are graced with divine mercy and blessings.
5 May-4 Jun Ramadan
A month of dusk to dawn fasting, in which the gates of heaven are open and the gates of hell are closed.
31 May Lailat-Ul-Qadr
The Night of Power, when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims spend this time in study and prayer.
5 Jun Eid-Ul-Fitr
Muslims celebrate the end of fasting for Ramadan, with processions through the street and a celebratory daytime meal – their first for a month.
11 Aug Waqf al Arafa
12-15 Aug Eid-Ul-Adha
A major festival marking the end of Hajj, it remembers the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. Most Muslims will abstain from work.
31 Aug-28 Sep Al-Hijra/ Muharram
The Islamic New Year, which marks the Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina where he set up the first Muslim state.
10 Sep Ashura
A day of fasting marking the day Noah left the ark and Moses was saved by the Egyptians. For some, it is also a day of mourning.
20 Oct Arba’een
10 Nov Mawlid an Nabi


24 Jul Pioneer Day (Mormon)
25 Dec


African American, African Diaspora