2023 Cultural Planner Dates and PDF Download

The Happy Cultural Planner is your guide to the key holidays for the major cultures and faiths. It has now been published by Happy for 29 years. As well as an indicator of upcoming holidays (including those which may prevent people attending your events), it’s a handy way to plan for the year.

The prices are: 50 x A3 = £125+VAT (including delivery); 100 x A3 = £180+VAT (including delivery). For A2 size, there is a minimum quantity of 100, priced at £700 + VAT (including delivery) - they are printed litho. Please contact us directly to order.

This is the 2023 Cultural Planner — the 2024 Cultural Planner is now available.

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About 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 2023 festivals, along with their meanings, to help plan for the year ahead.

Disclaimer: 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 world views.

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 hello@happy.co.uk and we will correct the online version as soon as possible and the hard copy for next year.

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Secular and International Days

Date Name of Festival
1st January

New Year's Day
The beginning of the New Year in the Gregorian (Western) calendar.

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25th January

Burns' Night
Celebration of the works of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns.  Haggis, neeps and tatties are eaten at a 'Burns Supper', with whisky drinking and bagpipe music.

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27th January

Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust Memorial Day is the day for everyone to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in other genocides such as in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.  

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1st-28th February

LGBT History Month

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14th February

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”.

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21st February

Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It's also known as Pancake Tuesday and Mardi Gras. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving, i.e. the process of confessing and repenting for sins and fasting and abstaining from luxuries during Lent.

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1st March

St David's Day
Celebration of the patron Saint of Wales.

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8th March

International Women's Day
A worldwide celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements and contributions made by women.

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13th-19th March

Sign Language Week
A week of events celebrating 'Pride in BSL' and the culture and achievements of the people who use British Sign Language, 'the UK's fourth indigenous language'.

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17th March

St. Patrick's Day
Celebration of the patron saint of Ireland. Secular celebrations include parades and cultural events. A festival celebrated more by the Irish diaspora than within Ireland itself.

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19th March

Mother's Day

Mothering Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is often called Mother's Day, and is a day to honour mothers and other mother figures, such as grandmothers, stepmothers and mothers-in-law.

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20th March

International Day of Happiness
The United Nations International Day of Happiness is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries, supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations, including Happy.co.uk! This year's theme is '‘Be Mindful. Be Grateful. Be Kind' -We can create a happier and kinder world together by adopting simple, daily practices.

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26th March

Clocks Go Forward

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22nd April

Stephen Lawrence Day
National Stephen Lawrence Day was inaugurated in 2019 to celebrate the short life and legacy of Stephen Lawrence, who was killed in a racist attack at just 18 years old. The aim of the day is for events to take place that inspire young people about what they can achieve in their own lives, and to get involved in creating the kind of community they want to live in. The Stephen Lawrence Trust wants young people to have a strong voice in building a fairer and more inclusive society.

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23rd April

St. George's Day
Celebration of the patron saint of England.

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May tbc.

Deaf Awareness Week (UK)
A week during which events are held to raise awareness of deaf people and the different forms of deafness. Events celebrate achievements and rights of deaf people as well as their needs and sign language.A week of events that raises awareness and challenges perceptions of hearing loss and deafness. 

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13th-20th May

Mental Health Awareness Week starts
A week during which events are held to highlight issues around mental health. This year's theme: nature and the environment.

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18th June

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.

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22nd June

Windrush Day
Following the losses of World War II, Britain was in dire need of labourers. This prompted a campaign to entice people from the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth to migrate to the UK. On June 22, 1948, the ship HMT Empire Windrush landed at Tilbury Docks. bringing with it the first immigrants from the Caribbean. Windrush Day was introduced in 2018, on the 70th anniversary of the landing of the first Caribbean migrants, for the purpose of “encouraging communities across the

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October

Black History Month
A month of events celebrating the history, achievements and contributions of great black people in the UK.

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30th October

Clocks Go Back

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31st October

Halloween
All Hallows' Eve is commonly known as Halloween and means eve of All Saints' (or Hallows') Day. 'Hallow' is an old English word for saint.  Halloween rituals are believed to have evolved from the Celtic festival, Samhain (see below), which was Christianised by the early Church. It is widely accepted that the early Church missionaries held a festival at this time of year to absorb native Pagan practices into Christianity, thereby smoothing the conversion process.

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5th November

Bonfire Night
A celebration commemorating the failure of the Gunpowder Plot (1605); an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. 

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11th November

Armistice Day
Held in the UK as a day "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts". The National Service of Remembrance is held on this day, as well as parades and commemorations at war memorials throughout the UK and Commonwealth. A two-minute silence is observed at 11 am. 

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13th November

Remembrance Sunday
Held in the UK as a day "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts". The National Service of Remembrance is held on this day, as well as parades and commemorations at war memorials throughout the UK and Commonwealth. A two-minute silence is observed at 11 am.

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30th November

St. Andrew's Day
Celebration of the patron saint of Scotland.

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1st December

World AIDS Day
An opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. Wearing the red ribbon has become a widespread way of showing solidarity with the campaign.

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3rd December

International Day for People With Disabilities
This UN awareness day promotes the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and increases awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

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26th December- 1st January

Kwanzaa (African Diaspora)
Kwanzaa is a 7 day festival celebrating Black African heritage and community.

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31st December

New Year's Eve / Hogmanay
New Year's Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink, and watch fireworks to mark the new year. Celebrations continue past midnight into New Year's Day. In Scotland these parties are called Hogmanay and feature local customs and traditional music. 'New Year's Resolutions' are also made, where people make a personal commitment to making a change to an aspect of their life in the new year.

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UK Bank Holidays

Date Name of Festival
2nd January New Year's Bank Holiday
3rd January New Year Holiday (Scotland only)
17th March St. Patrick's Day (Northern Ireland only)
7th April Good Friday
10th April Easter Monday (not Scotland)
1st May Early May Bank Holiday
8th May Coronation of King Charles III
29th May Spring Bank Holiday
12th July Battle of the Boyne (Northern Ireland only)
7th August August Bank Holiday (Scotland only)
28th August August Bank Holiday (ENG, NIR, WAL)
30th November St. Andrew's Day (Scotland only)
26th December Boxing Day

Rastafarian

Date Name of Festival
6th Jan

Ceremonial Birthday of Haile Selassie

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21st April

Groundation Day
Marks the date Haile Selassie I visited Jamaica in 1966. The visit was the only time the Emperor visited Jamaica.  A Nyabingi session, inclusive of music, chanting and prayer is held to mark the occasion.Each spring, Rastafari celebrate Groundation Day, marking Selassie’s triumphant visit to Jamaica

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23rd July

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.

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17th August

Marcus Garvey’s birthday
Commemorates the Birthday of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican politician born in 1887 who predicted the crowning of a King in Africa and instigated the 'Back to Africa' movement. Rastafarians remember the important role played by Garvey in the development of Black rights. The occasion reflects on Garvey's influential prophecy. Poetry is recited recalling the historical importance of Marcus Garvey. African dance is also encouraged. 

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2nd November

Crowning of Emperor Selassie
Commemorates the Coronation of Ras Tafari as Emperor Haile Selassie I, King of Ethiopia, in 1930. The high priest reads Biblical passages and initiates the singing of songs to re-emphasise the importance of Haile Selassie as messiah. A Nyabingi meeting also takes place to remember Haile Selassie.

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Christian – All traditions unless stated

Date Name of Festival
22nd February

Ash Wednesday (Start of Lent; ends 14th April)
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent for Western Christian churches and is a day of penitence. In some traditions, services are held on Ash Wednesday when worshippers are marked on the forehead with a cross of ashes as a sign of penitence and mortality. Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. 

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2nd April

Palm Sunday, Holy Week Starts
Commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, following his miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead.

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4th April

Lord's Evening Meal (Jehovah's Witness)
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the bread and wine representing Jesus' last supper should be taken by only a few special Witnesses, and only once a year. All the others attend memorial events, but do not partake of the wine and bread. It is the only specific celebration in the Jehovah's Witness calendar.

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7th April

Good Friday
Commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a Bank Holiday Holiday and observant Christians may attend special church services. One of two 'common holidays' linked to major Christian festivals, which predate the introduction of Bank Holiday Holidays.

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9th April

Easter Sunday
Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus and is the most important festival in the Christian calendar. Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion on Good Friday. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday (also called Easter Day, Resurrection Day, Resurrection Sunday, Pascha or simply Easter).

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28th May

Pentecost
Pentecost occurs 50 days after Easter, and commemorates the Holy Spirit coming to earth. It is celebrated as the birthday of the Christian church.

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24th July

Pioneer Day (Mormon)
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) celebrates Pioneer Day every year on the anniversary of the day on which the first Mormon pioneers entered the Great Salt Lake Valley in what would become the state of Utah, fleeing persecution. 

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22nd August

Grand Finale of Tabieorar Period (Aladura)
End of 13 days of fasting and praying for Church of the Lord (Aladura).

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24th December

Christmas Eve
Christmas celebrations traditionally start on Christmas Eve with Midnight Mass. Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born at night and Midnight Mass is a commemoration of his birth.

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25th December

Christmas
Feast day celebrating the birth of Jesus, celebrated by Christians of almost all denominations. As one of 6 'Holy Days of Obligation', believers are required to attend church and try not to do any servile work.

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31st December

Watch Night (Pentecostal)
Watch Night services originated in the Methodist church, but today is of particular significance in Black churches, because it is a celebration of Emancipation. On New Year’s Eve, 1862, American slaves gathered in churches to await confirmation of their freedom through the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation.

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Eastern Orthodox Christian

Date Name of Festival
7th January

Nativity of the Lord (Orthodox Christmas)
Many Orthodox Christians annually celebrate Christmas Day on or near January 7 to remember Jesus Christ’s birth. This date works to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the Gregorian calendar.  

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27th February-8th April

Start of Great Lent
Great Lent, or the Great Fast, corresponds to Lent in Western Christianity and ends on the Friday before Lazarus Saturday, when it runs into the Passion Week Fast, which continues until after the Paschal Vigil early in the morning of Pascha.

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9th April

Palm Sunday/Start of Holy Week
Commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, following his resurrection of Lazarus. It marks the start of Holy Week.

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14th April

Holy Friday (Great Friday)
Great Friday is traditionally a mourning and fasting day among Orthodox Christians in the United Kingdom, particularly in the Greek Orthodox churches. The day commemorates Jesus’ death by crucifixion. It is a day of serious observance that takes place prior to Easter Sunday

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16th April

Pascha (Easter Sunday)
The Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest of the feasts of the Orthodox Church. It is not counted among the twelve major feasts of the Church since it is considered by itself as the "Feast of Feasts."

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4th June

Pentecost / Trinity Sunday
Also called Trinity Day or Descent of the Holy Spirit. 50 days after Pascha, it celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit.

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Neo Pagan/Wicca

Date Name of Festival
2nd February

Imbolc
Pagan midwinter festival. Celebrates the land’s awakening and the growing power of the sun.

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20th March

Ostara (Spring Equinox)
Celebrates the renewed life of the Earth. Ostara occurs at the time of the spring equinox and is celebrated as the start of Spring. Similar to those observed at Easter, symbols for Ostara include eggs, rabbits, flowers and seeds. 

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1st May

Beltane
Beltane means 'fires of Bel' – after the Celtic deity Belenus. Fires were lit to celebrate the return of life and the burning away of winter. These fires were thought to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. People leap over the Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year. The largest fire festival in the UK takes place in Edinburgh.

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21st June

Litha (Midsummer's Day)
At Summer Solstice neo-pagans celebrate Midsummer or Litha, which means 'standing still of the sun'. It’s the longest day of the year.

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1st August

Lughnasadh-Lammas
Lughnasadh, also called Lammas, is the time of the corn harvest when Pagans give thanks to the Goddess for her gifts. Lughnasadh is still celebrated as a harvest festival by modern Pagans.

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22nd September

Mabon - September Equinox (9 days)
A modern Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970.

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31st October

Samhain
Samhain marks the Celtic New Year and the beginning of what Pagans call the Wheel of the Year. For Pagans, death is part of the natural life cycle and not to be feared. Samhain is considered by some as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets, and other loved ones who have died.

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21st December

Yule (12 Days)
Yule marks the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. Pagans celebrate the rebirth of the sun and Yule also celebrates the Mother Goddess at the height of her powers. Pagans celebrate Yuletide in many ways, most will decorate a "Yuletide" tree, keep it in their homes until most of the leaves fall off then burn the Yule log.

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Hindu

Date Name of Festival
14th January

Makar Sankranti/Pongal (4 days)
Makar Sankranti (like Lohri in Punjab) is a midwinter harvest festival celebrating the lengthening of days into spring. It is the first of the big and holy bathing days of Hindus. People go in huge crowds to bathe in the holy waters in places such as Allahabad, Varanasi, Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik and The Gangasagar. Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of Tamil Nadu. It marks the beginning of Uttarayana (sun's journey northwards). Celebrations include a drawing of Kolam, swinging and the cooking of delicious Pongal.

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1st March

Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri is a festival also known as Great Night of Shiva. Devotees observe a day and night fast.

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17th March

Holi
Holi is one of the major festivals of India celebrating the end of Winter and start of Spring. Also known as the ‘Festival of Colours’ due to the practice of throwing and applying coloured water and powders on friends and family.

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10th April

Rama Navami
A public holiday in India. Celebrates the birth of Lord Rama and is one of the most important Hindu festivals. 

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14th April

Vaisakhi (Hindu New Year) 
New Year in India is celebrated at different times in different places. Vaisakhi is a religious holiday for Sikhs and Hindus and is celebrated on 13 or 14 April every year.

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16th April

Hanuman Jayanti
At Hanuman Jayanti, Hindus celebrate the birth of the god Hanuman. Devotees visit the temple and apply sindoor (red powder) to their foreheads, as Hanuman’s image is always coloured red.

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11th August

Rakhi/Raksha Bandhan
Celebration of the bond between brothers and sisters.

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18th August

Krishna Janmashtami
Annual festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

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31st August

Ganesh Chaturthi
The birth of Ganesh, god of wisdom and prosperity. Ganesh Chaturthi lasts for 10 - 11 days, with the biggest celebrations taking place on the last day, Ananta Chaturdasi.

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26th September

Navaratri (9 days)
Navaratri is a nine day festival of music and dance when Hindus worship the female expression of the divine. During Navaratri the creative power of the Goddess is celebrated, personified in the forms of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati.

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5th October

Dussehra
Celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravana by Lord Rama, it is part of Navaratri and is celebrated all over India but in different ways.

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24th October

Diwali (Deepawali)
Diwali, the festival of light, extends over five days and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.

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Buddhist – All traditions unless stated

Date Name of Festival
15th February

Nirvana Day (Mahayana)
The Buddha’s death, celebrated because he attained total Enlightenment, or Nirvana.

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7th March

Cho Trul Duchen (Tibet) – full moon

This day highlights the end of Losar, 15 days after the Tibetan New Year. On this day it is said that any karma, positive or negative is multiplied by a million times.

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21st March

Higan-e (M)
The Higan-e Ceremony is a memorial service for departed ancestors. It is widely practiced in all forms of Buddhism in Japan and is conducted on vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

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5th May

Vesak (All traditions)
The date on which Buddhists celebrate the Buddha's attainment of enlightenment. Vesak is the main Buddhist festival in the UK.

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26th May

Budhha's Birthday
The day of the Prince Siddhartha Guatama's birth. The birthday of the man who would go on to become the Budhha's birth is celebrated by Buddhists around the world. The date is based on the lunisolar calendars.

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14th June

Saka Dawa (T) – full moon
Saka Dawa is the most important day in Tibetan Buddhism. The festival itself lasts a month but the 15th day is the most important as it coincides with three main events in the life of the Buddha: His birth, his enlightenment, and his paranirvana (death). 

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13th July

Asala - Dharma Day
A celebration of the first time the Buddha gave his teachings, Dharma.

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22nd September

Higan-e (M)
The Higan-e Ceremony is a memorial service for departed ancestors. It is widely practiced in all forms of Buddhism in Japan and is conducted on vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

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28th October

Kathina (Th) – full moon
Kathina is a month-long festival that gives the opportunity for 'lay people' to make offerings and pay their respects to the Buddhist monks. A typical gift is the cloth from which the monks would be able to make new robes.

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4th December

Lhabab Duchen (T) – full moon
Lhabab Duchen is one of the four Buddhist festivals commemorating four events in the life of the Buddha, according to Tibetan traditions. It commemorates the return of the Buddha to earth from heaven (one of his 8 Great Deeds). It is part of Tibetan Buddhist tradition to engage in virtuous activities and prayer on this day as the effects of positive or negative actions are believed to be multiplied ten million times.

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8th December 

Jodo-e/Rohatsu/Bodhi Day (M)
Bodhi Day commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree.

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Bahá’í

Date Name of Festival
26th February - 1st March

Ayyám-i-Há (Intercalary Days)
The Intercalary Days balance out the calendar (of 19 months of 19 days). A time for extra focus on hospitality, charity, giving gifts and preparing for the month of fasting.

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2nd March

Feast of Ala (Start of Nineteen Day Fast)
‘Ala, the last month of the Bahá’í year, is also known as the Nineteen Day Fast. During this time, Bahá’ís do not eat or drink for 19 days , between sunrise to sunset, making time for extra prayer and meditation.

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21st March

Naw Rúz
Naw Rúz is the ancient Persian festival marking the beginning of spring and the start of a new year.  It coincides with the Feast of Bahá’ía and the end of the Nineteen Day Fast. 

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21st April

Ridvan (1st, 9th and 12th are holy days)
The Festival of Ridván, also called the Most Great Festival or King of Festivals, is the most important festival for Bahá’ís, when they celebrate when their founder, Bahá’íá'u'lláh, declared his mission as God’s messenger, and founded the faith.

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24th May

Declaration of the Bab
Commemorates the Báb foretelling the coming of a new messenger from God. It is one of nine Holy Days on which Bahá’ís do not attend work or school.

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29th May

Ascension of Baha’u’llah
Day of Rememrance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’íá, the son of the founder of the Bahá’í Faith. He became well known for helping the poor and needy. 

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10th July

Martyrdom of the Báb
The anniversary of the execution of the Báb, the herald of the Bahá’í faith. It is one of nine Holy Days on which Bahá’ís do not attend work or school.

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16th October

Birth of the Báb

17th October

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh

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Zoroastrian / Persian

Date Name of Festival
24th January

Jashn-e-Sadeh 
(Jashn-e) Sadeh is a Persian midwinter fire festival, celebrate 50 days before the Spring equinox to celebrate the lengthening days.

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11th March (5 days)

16th March (5 days)

Frawardigan (Split into two 5 day halves)
A festival during which the immortal souls and the guardian spirits of departed ancestors, come down into the temple. Many Zoroastrians take time off to pray, and eat sacred food. 

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20th March

Nowruz
Celebration of the first day of spring. Gifts are exchanged and offerings made at the Fire Temple. 

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26th March

Khordad Sal
Khordad Sal is celebrated by Zoroastrians and Parsis as the birthday of their founder, Zoroaster. The date is symbolic as the actual date of Zoroaster's birth cannot be accurately identified. The festival is one of the most important in the Zoroastrian and Parsi calendar, when they gather in fire temples for prayer and celebrate with feasting.

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26th December

Zartosht No Diso
On this day Zoroastrians remember the death of their prophet, Zoroaster.

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Chinese / Taoist

Date Name of Festival
21st January

Lunar New Year's Eve/Start of Spring Golden Week
Starting from Lunar New Year's Eve there begins a 16-day celebration to welcome the New Year. In some countries, this includes 7 days of public holidays known as Spring Golden Week.

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22nd January

Lunar New Year (Year of the Rabbit)

Lunar New year is one of the most important traditional holidays in China, and the most widely celebrated by the Chinese diaspora. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.

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5th February

Yuan Xiao (Lantern Festival)
This celebrates the first full moon of the year and the birthday of Tianguan, a Taoist god of good fortune.  

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21st Feb

Zhonghe (Blue Dragon Festival)
The celebration of the waking of the dragon that brings rain.

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5th April

Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day)
Start of Spring. Tombs of ancestors are swept and tidied.

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3rd June

Duanwu (Dragon Boat Festival)
A celebration of masculine energy as dragons are regarded as masculine symbols. A time of respect for elders; or a commemoration of the death of the poet  Qu Yuan.

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4th August

Qixi (Double 7th or Chinese Valentine’s Day)
Traditionally the family tomb is cleaned and swept on Qing Ming day with fresh offerings laid out for the ancestors. This festival is anchored to the solar year rather than lunar year and so always falls between April 4th to 6th. It marks the start of Spring and is associated with kite flying. It has similarities to the Christian Easter Spring festival in that eggs are prepared and eaten. In some areas boys used to wear willow wreathes on their heads to summon rain for the growing season.

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12th August

Zhongyuan (Ghost Festival)
Buddhist/Taoist Ghost Festival also known as Zhongyuan, when it is believed the dead visit their living descendants.

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1st-7th October Start of Autumn Golden Week
23rd October

Chonyang (Double Ninth) Festival
This is a day of respect for ancestors, held on the ninth day of the ninth month in lunar calendar.

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22nd December

Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice)
Chinese Winter Solstice festival, a time during the depths of winter to enjoy a hearty, fortifying family meal that raises hopes for spring's arrival.

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Japanese / Shinto

Date Name of Festival
1st January

Gantan sai/OShōgatsu
This Japanese celebration of the New Year includes prayers for the renewal of hearts, good health and prosperity.  The festival lasts for a week, during which time people visit one another’s homes and offer gifts of good wishes for the coming year.

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1st January

Hatsumode
This Japanese festival marks the first visit of the year to Shinto shrines.

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15th January

Dōsojin (Fire Festival)
Held in honour of the tutelary Dōsojin. The Dōsojin are believed to fend off epidemics and other misfortunes. 

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3rd February

Setsubun (Bean Scattering)
People nationwide throw beans outside their homes to banish misfortune and invite happiness.

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8th April

Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival)
Celebrating the birth of Buddha Shâkyamuni. The flowers signify Buddha's birth in a garden.

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29th April

Shōwa no Hi (Emperor Hirohito's Birthday)
Start of Golden Week when several festivals fall in quick succession.

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5th May

Kodomo no Hi (Children's Day)
Children's Day is a Japanese national holiday which takes place annually on May 5 and is the final celebration in Golden Week. It is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness. 

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13th-15th August

Obon (Festival of Souls) (3 days)
Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars.

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18th September

Keirō no Hi (Respect for the Aged Day)
Respect for the Aged Day is a secular Japanese public holiday celebrated annually, on the third Monday of September, to honour elderly citizens.

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31st December

Ōmisoka (New Year's Eve) Ōmisoka
New Year's Eve. Homes and workplaces are thoroughly cleaned in preparation for the New Year. Family gatherings are popular. 

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Jain (Depends on location - This list for London)

Date Name of Festival
19th January

Meru Trayodashi
Meru Trayodashi is celebrated by visiting temples, donating, and listening to the fables of the past along with religious songs and stories. It is believed that regular observance of fast, donation, and sacraments will nullify the ill deeds of the past and help attain peace and prosperity in the life of the devotee.

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6th March

Phalguna Chaumasi Chaudas
A festival dedicated to celebrating the manifestation of Ahimsa, or nonviolence.

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15th March Varshitapa Arambha
The start of an auspicious period observed by the Jain community.
4th April

Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti celebrates the birth of Mahavira, a contemporary of the Buddha. Mahavira was the last Tirthankara (great sage) and the most important prophet of the Jain faith.

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22nd April

Varshitapa Parana
Celebrated by observance of the Varshitapa – the year-long alternative-day fasting. Jains will also perform parana and break their fast by drinking the juice of sugarcane.

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12th July Ashadha Chaumasi Chaudas
Chaumasi Chaudas (also known as Varsha Vras) is the most important festival of Jainism. It is a four month period in which Jains focus on their guiding principle of non-violence and charity. The main purpose of this festival is to provide an occasion to reflect on the philosophy and teachings of Lord Mahavir and to practice them for the well-being of oneself as well as the whole world.
11th September Paryushan (9 day fast - final day festival)
Paryushan means ‘coming together' and is said to have been initiated by the founder of Jainism. It’s a 10 day festival, and for the first 9 days Jains follow a strict regime of fasting and meditating. The final day of Payushan is celebrated with a community banquet.
19th September

Samvatsari Parva
Paryshan parva is an 8 day Jain festival of reflection and seeking forgiveness of sins. It culminates on the last day when Samvatsari Pratikraman is conducted, for repentance of the whole year's sins.

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12th November

Lakshmi Puja

To welcome the goddess Lakshmi, houses are cleaned and decorated and sweets are prepared so that Lakshmi may visit and bestow her blessings on the household.

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14th November Gujarati New Year
26th November Kartika Chaumasi Chaudas
Karthika Purnima marks the end of Chaumasi Chaudas.
27th November

Kartika Ratha Yatra

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Sikh (Nanakshahi Calendar)

Date Name of Festival
5th January

Birth of Guru Gobind Singh

Celebrating the birth of Gobind Singh who became the 10th and final human Sikh Guru.

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11th March 

Hola Mohalla (3 days)
Sikh festival beginning on the second day of the lunar month of Chet, following the Hindu festival of colours.

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14th March

Nanakshahi New Year

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14th March 

Vaisakhi (Birth of the Khalsa)
At Vaisakhi, Sikhs celebrate the founding of the Khalsa, the collective body of baptised Sikhs created in 1699. Originally a harvest festival in the Punjab, it has become Sikhs' most important festival.

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16th June

Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev

Guru Arjan was the first Sikh Guru who were martyred. His Martyrdom is considered very important to the Sikh religion and is celebrated as such.

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1st September

Guru Granth Sahib
Sikhs regard their central scripture, The Guru Granth Sahib as the final and eternal Guru. Its compilation was first installed in the Golden Temple in Amritsar on 1st September in 1704.

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12th October

Bandi Chhor Divas (Diwali)
Day of liberation commemorating the day the sixth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind was released from Gwalior Fort.

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20th October Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
24th November

Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahdur

On this date in 1675 Guru Tegh Bahdur, the ninth Sikh Guru was martyred in the name of allowing his people to freely practice their religion.

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27th November

Guru Nanak Gurpurab

Celebrating the birth of Sikh's first Guru and the founder of Sikhism.

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24th-26th December

Saka Sirhind (2 days)

A series of important events that led to the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's 2 young sons.

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Jewish

Date Name of Festival
7th March

Purim
Purim is one of the most joyous holidays of the Jewish calendar, it celebrates the events told in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. Purim is a time of praise and thanksgiving, and almsgiving is an important Purim tradition. The Book of Esther is read aloud in the synagogue and the congregation use rattles, cymbals and boos to drown out Haman's name whenever it appears.

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6th-13th April (5th?)

Passover (Pesach; 8 Days)
The Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover commemorates the escape of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It is also a celebration of spring, and of taking responsibility for yourself, the community, and the world. Passover lasts for eight days.

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26th May (25th-27th May)

Shavuot (2 days)
Shavuot or the Festival of Weeks is a harvest festival when Jews give thanks for the first fruits of the year. Shavuot also marks the time when Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai. It's a time to give thanks for the Holy Book and to study its texts.

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27th July

Tish’a B’Av/The Three Weeks
Tisha B'Av is a fast that commemorates the destruction of the two holy and sacred Temples of the Jews destroyed by the Babylonians (in 586 B.C.E) and the Romans (in 70 C.E.) and other tragedies of Jewish history.

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15th-17th September

Rosh Hashanah (2 days)
New Year festival and commemorates the creation of the world. It is also a judgement day, when Jews believe that God balances a person's good deeds over the last year against their bad deeds.

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25th September

Yom Kippur
The Day of Atonement is the holiest day of the year, for nearly 26 hours, Jewish people abstain from food and drink, do not wash or apply lotions or creams, do not wear leather footwear, and abstain from sex and spend the day in synagogue, praying for forgiveness. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or sometimes 'the Days of Awe', which begin with Rosh Hashanah.

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30th September-6th October

Sukkot (7 days)
Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the miraculous protection provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt. At Sukkot Jews remember the Israelites' 40 years of exile in the desert, living in makeshift dwellings, before they reached the promised land.  Sukkot is intended to be a joyful festival that lets Jews live close to nature and know that God is taking care of them.

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6th-7th October

Shemini Atzeret (2 days)
Shemini Atzeret is a Jewish holiday marking the day after the end of Sukkot and is an extra day of celebration. Many religious Jews observe a rota of weekly readings from the Torah which allows them to read it through from Genesis to Deuteronomy on a yearly basis. Simchat Torah means "Rejoicing in the Torah" and is the day when this annual cycle of rereading the Torah ends and starts anew.

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8th-15th December Chanukah/Hannukah (8 days)
The Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrated for eight days. It commemorates the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom. During Chanukah, Jews light one more candle each night.

Muslim

Date Name of Festival
18th February

Isra and M'raj
Also known as Shab-e-Miraj, Lailat al Miraj, Isra'a Wl Miraj, or Miraaj nabi, it is the night when Muslims celebrate the Night Journey and the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, when he traveled from Mecca to the Temple Mount where he was lifted up to heaven until he reached Paradise where he met all the prophets and saw the light of Allah.

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22nd March

Ramadan begins (30 days)
Ramadan is a time of fasting and spiritual renewal. According to the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelations of the Koran during Ramadan. Therefore Ramadan is considered the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar. During this month, Muslims fast from early morning (before dawn) through to sunset. Fasting means no food or drink and also refraining from smoking, sex and 'sinful behaviour'.

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17th April

Laylat-al-Qadr
Night of power (Laylat-al-Qadr in Arabic) is the holiest night of the year for Muslims, and is traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of Ramadan. It commemorates the night that the Quran was first started to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. This holiday begins the evening prior to the first full day of activities.

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22nd April

Eid-al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Eid al Fitr means Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. It marks the end of Ramadan. It's one of the two major holidays in the Islamic year and is celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving to God, as well as feasting and gift giving.

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29th June

Eid-al-Adha
This is the second Eid celebration in the Muslim year. The name means Festival of the Sacrifice. It is one of the most important Islamic holidays of the year and commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham's) willingness to sacrifice his son to God. Eid-al-Adha also marks the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which begins 9 September.

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19th July

Muharram (29 days) (New Year)
The first day of the Islamic New Year. The Islamic calendar began with the migration of the prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina, to escape persecution.

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28th July

Ashura
Ashura is marked by all Muslims, but it’s most important for Shia Muslims for whom it’s a solemn day of mourning, marking the anniversary of the death of the prophet’s grandson, Husain. For Sunni Muslims, Ashura marks the exodus of Moses from Egypt, and is usually observed by completing an optional fast.

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27th September

Milad un Nabi (Mawlid)
Mawlid (or Milad) un-Nabi means 'birth of the prophet' and refers to observance of the birthday of Muhammad. It is observed by praising Allah, fasting, public processions, poetry, family gatherings and the decoration of streets and homes.

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