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Key Holidays in Christianity

By: Erich TollDiversity Insights
Key Holidays in Christianity

Christian holidays are some of the more widely known holidays in the West, with certain holidays such as Christmas and Halloween having attained status as cultural staples in countries such as the United States. There are many denominations among Christianity, and this is not a comprehensive list of all holidays throughout them, but rather an overview of some holy days of obligation and the most commonly observed holidays.

For all religious holidays, see our interactive DEI Calendar to access 200+ religious events.

Epiphany January 6th

Epiphany marks the end of the “12 days of Christmas” in Western Christian tradition. The day commemorates when three wise men traveled to see the baby Jesus, bringing with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Lent & Ash Wednesday February/March/April

A time of fasting, reflection, and preparation for Easter.  Many Christians observe Lent with a Lenten sacrifice, where they give something up until Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. This day falls on the 7th Wednesday before Easter, or, 40 days before Eastern, not including any Sundays.

St Patrick’s Day March 17

A festival which commemorates the missionary who brought Christianity to Ireland. Often celebrated by the Irish and with Irish symbology and themes.

Palm Sunday March / April

Palm Sunday is a holiday involving worship and prayer, held on the Sunday before Easter.

Good Friday March / April

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, on the Friday before Easter. Recognized as a holiday by many western countries, including 12 states in the U.S.

Explore our Interfaith Calendar 2024 which includes holidays, religious holidays and religious festivals.

Easter March / April

One of the major Christian holy days. Easter celebrates the return of Jesus as the Christ following Good Friday. This festival has elements of springtime, rebirth and new life. Eggs are often symbolically given. Easter varies by year to year. It falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the march 21 (the vernal equinox).

All Saints’ Day / Halloween / Day of the Dead October 31 / November 1 / November 2

All Saints’ Day is a festival which recognizes all saints, known and unknown. Many churches celebrate this holiday on the closest Sunday. Historically, it was called All Hallows’ Day, and the preceding eve was All Hallows’ Eve, which led to Halloween, now a widespread cultural observance. The day after All Saints’ Day, November 2, is called All Soul’s Day or Day of the Dead. In Mexican culture, a de los Muertos is a joyous and significant holiday of remembrance.

Advent Sunday November / December

Four Sundays before Christmas marks Advent Sunday, which is considered the start of the Christian year and the beginning of the Advent season which lasts through Christmas.

Christmas – December 25

Christmas is a festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. One of the most widely celebrated holidays in the western world, Christmas involves family gatherings, feasting, lights, music, and gift giving among various other religious and cultural traditions. Christmas has also become associated with Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop who was renowned for his habit of secret gift-giving and led to the cultural archetype of the American Santa Claus and the British Father Christmas.

For all religious holidays, see our interactive DEI Calendar to access 200+ religious events.

For more diversity topics, see our Diversity Calendar 2024.

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