Easter and other religious celebrations
Many faiths celebrate this time of the year, not just Christian’s celebrating the resurrection of Christ. In chronological order here are the religions and festivals each celebrates and why. This list is taken from the Inter Faith Network and for more information please click on www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/religious-festivals
RAMADAN – Muslim
2 April (Saturday) to 1 May (Sunday)
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, is when the Prophet received the first revelation of verses of the Qur’an. It is the holiest month for Muslims, and they dedicate themselves to spiritual renewal, prayer and intensive devotional reading of the Qur’an. During the month of Ramadan Muslims are required to fast from daybreak until after sunset. No food or drink may be consumed during the hours of fasting, and those fasting must also abstain from smoking and from sexual relations. After the custom of the Prophet, the fast is traditionally broken each evening by taking dates and water.
PASSION SUNDAY – Christian
3 April (Sunday)
This is the 5th Sunday in Lent, when Christians begin to concentrate their thoughts on the Passion or suffering of Jesus.
FESTIVAL OF PURE BRIGHTNESS/TOMB SWEEPING DAY / QINGMINGJIE / CH’ING MING/ – Chinese
5 April (Tuesday)
The first occasion in the year when family graves are visited. Many families cleanse and sweep them, offer food to the spirits, and picnic/feast by the grave with their ancestors.
HANAMATSURI Buddhist – Japanese
8 April (Friday)
Mahayana flower festival to celebrate the Buddha Shakyamuni’s birthday. Shrines are erected and an image of the infant Buddha is bathed. Theravadins celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away later in the year, at the full moon in May.
HOLY WEEK – Christian
10 April (Sunday) – 16 April (Saturday)
The most solemn week of the Christian year, in which Christians recall the events of the week in which Jesus was crucified.
PALM SUNDAY – Christian
10 April (Sunday)
First day of Holy Week, when Christians remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In many churches the entry is commemorated by processions, with the congregation carrying symbolic branches of trees, or palm leaves folded in the form of a cross.
RAMA NAVAMI – Hindu
10 April (Sunday)
The birthday of Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, is celebrated at noon in the aarti ceremony, performed in front of a murti or of a picture depicting Rama swinging in a cradle.
SONGKRAN – Buddhist
13 April (Wednesday) to 15 April (Friday)
Traditional New Year’s Day festival in Thailand. Containers of water are thrown as a symbol of washing away all that is evil. Fragrant herbs are often placed in the water jug or bucket.
VAISAKHI/BAISAKHI – Sikh
13 April (Wednesday)
In 1699, on Vaisakhi, the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, founded the Order of the Khalsa. Five men (Five Beloved Ones), offered their lives when the Guru asked for volunteers. The ‘Five Ks’, the outward signs of Sikhism, were made obligatory and Sikh men took the name ‘Singh’ (lion) and women ‘Kaur’ (princess). The initiation ceremony, amrit, was introduced.
MAUNDY THURSDAY – Christian (Western Churches)
14 April (Thursday)
Christians remember the Last Supper when Jesus blessed bread and wine and commanded his disciples to remember him whenever they did this. The name ‘maundy’ comes from a Latin term ‘mandatum’ (‘commandment’), signifying Jesus’ new commandment to his disciples, as recorded in John 15:17.
MAHAVIR JAYANTI (599 BCE) – Jain
14 April (Thursday)
The birthday of the last Tirthankara, or great teacher and model of the Jainas. His birth and the events surrounding it are re-enacted. Monks or nuns read from the scriptures and teach about the rest of Mahavira’s life. Lay people then return home to a celebratory feast.
GOOD FRIDAY – Christian (Western Churches)
15 April (Friday)
This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. Meditative services are held in church to mark the time that Jesus spent on the cross.
HOLY SATURDAY (Easter Eve) – Christian
16 April (Saturday)
This is the last day of Lent. Special services involving the lighting of the Paschal Candle and the renewal of baptismal vows take place in the evening in preparation for Easter.
HANUMAN JAYANTI – Hindu
16/17 April (Saturday/Sunday)
This Hindu festival recalls the birth of Lord Rama’s supreme devotee, the monkey-headed Hanuman, whose feats figure in the Ramayana epic. Hanuman’s birth is celebrated at sunrise on the full-moon day of the lunar month of Chaitra.
PASSOVER / PESACH – Jewish
16 April (Saturday) – 23 April (Saturday)
An eight day festival when Jews commemorate the Exodus from their slavery in Egypt. The Seder meal is held in each family’s home at the beginning of the festival, when the story of their deliverance is recounted. Matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten throughout the festival.
EASTER DAY – Christian (Western Churches)
17 April (Sunday)Easter Day is the most important festival of the Christian year, as it is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Many Easter traditions, such as the giving of chocolate Easter eggs symbolise the gift of new life.
Matthew 28:1-11, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-10.
(Monday) RIDVAN – Baha’i
21 April (Thursday) – 2 May
The most important Baha’i festival. In these 12 days, in the garden outside Baghdad after which the festival is named, Baha’u’llah declared himself the Promised One, prophesied by the Bab. The first, ninth and twelfth days are especially significant and are holy days, when no work is done. It is during this period that Baha’is elect all their governing bodies.
ADAR MAH PARAB Zoroastrian (Shenshai – Parsi)
21 April (Thursday)
On the ninth day of Adar, the 9th month, Zoroastrians celebrate the birthday of fire. They pay visits to the fire temple to make offerings of sandalwood or incense, and to thank the holy fire for the warmth and light it has given throughout the year. Traditionally on this day food is not cooked in the house as the fire is given a rest and the Atash Niyayeesh or litany to the fire is recited in honour of the house fire or the ceremonial oil lamp.
ST GEORGE’S DAY – National
23 April (Saturday)
St George is the patron saint of England. He lived and died in the Middle East, but his popularity grew after the Crusades, when his red cross on a white background became the symbol of the English Crusaders.
PASCHA/EASTER – Christian (Orthodox)/ Rastafarian
24 April (Sunday)
Easter Day, the most important festival of the Christian year, is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. A vigil is kept during the preceding night and the resurrection is greeted with the lighting of candles and the glad affirmation, ‘Christ is risen’.
YOM HA-SHOAH (Holocaust Day) – Jewish
28 April (Thursday)
A day of remembrance for the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Memorial candles are lit and special services are held.
BELTAINE/MAY EVE – Wiccan/ Pagan
30 April (Saturday)
BELTAINE – Druid
The wheel of the year continues to turn and fertile spring yields to the height of summer. Many pagans celebrate Beltaine by lighting fires and leaping over them, and/or with maypole dances, symbolizing the mystery of the Sacred Marriage of Goddess and God.
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