Interfaith Calendar 1998
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This page lists the major of holy days of the Bahá'í, Christian (Eastern and Western), Islamic, Jewish, and Pagan calendars; we hope to add the holy days of other faiths in future years. Each day is linked to an article at another site that describes the significance of the day. We have tried to link to the most informative articles, but information on some holy days, even major ones, is still scarce.
The calendar is followed by a list of short essays on each faith that includes links to more information on religious calendars and holy days. The essays are not intended to provide a full description of the faith's calendar, but simply to note variations in the calendar that may occur between different traditions of the same faith. For this reason, faiths that have little or no variations in their calendars have short essays.
If one fact is clear from this project, it is that more information is needed on the Web about religious calendars. Even descriptions of major holy days in the Western Christian churches can be hard to locate, and the religious calendars of some other faiths are scarcely mentioned on the Web. By this time next year, we hope that the situation will have improved.
1: Circumcision of Jesus Christ–Holy
Name (Christian: Eastern and Western)
of Jesus Christ–Candlemas
(Christian: Eastern and Western)
Sunday–Forgiveness Sunday (Christian: Eastern)
5: Palm Sunday
Week begins (Christian: Western)
1: Beltane (Pagan)
of the Virgin Mary (Christian: Western)
1: Fast of the Dormition of the Theotokos begins (Christian: Eastern)
1: New Year (Christian: Eastern)
1: All Saints
5: Laylat al-Bara'a–Nisfu
By far the best religious calendar on the Web is produced by Pacific Cultural Services in Canada. Although still under construction, its Multifaith Calendar describes in detail the holy days of thirteen world religions. On the Major Religions page, the purpose of the calendar is stated; one of the Go To buttons at the top of the page takes visitors to general descriptions of each faith's calendar. The real treasure, though, is to be found on the page entitled Calendar of Events and Festivals. Here, calendars for each month lead to pages describing every holy day of the thirteen faiths; the upcoming holy days appear in the left frame of the page. Until this year, no full interfaith calendar existed on the Web; this site, when completed, will more than fill the gap.
Although several good weekly interfaith calendars exist (some secular newspapers publish excellent calendars), the Multifaith Calendar is the only year-long interfaith calendar that describes holy days. Three indexes provide links to a number of religious calendar sites: The World Wide Holiday and Festival Page, Today's Calendar and Clock Page, and CalendarLand.
There are no variations in the Bahá'í calendar. Bahá'í days begin on the previous evening.
The Baha'i holy days in this calendar are linked to a variety of sources; very little online information presently exists about the Bahá'í calendar. The Bahá'í Calendar provides a general introduction to the subject, while Bahá'í Holy Days and Summary of Bahá'í Holy Days give short descriptions of each holy day. Today in the Baha'i Calendar performs the function its title suggests. Mike Thompson's Baha'i Resource Pages provide links to articles on Naw-Ruz and the Baha'i Fast, as well as an article by John Walbridge on Ayya'm-i-Ha'.
People who speak of "the Christian season of Advent" or "the Christian holy day of Ash Wednesday" have not looked at an Eastern Christian calendar. Early in their history, the Christian churches of Eastern Europe and the Middle East developed different liturgical traditions from the churches of Western Europe. Although, in general, both traditions center their yearly celebrations around Christmas–Epiphany and the moveable Easter cycle, many of the holy days of Eastern Christianity are unfamiliar to Westerners.
Eastern Christianity's calendar is complicated by a disagreement over whether or not to use the modern Gregorian calendar (the one that determines the dates of the civil calendar). When Pope Gregory XIII approved the new calendar in 1582, most Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches refused to accept it. Today, many Eastern churches still celebrate holy days according to the older Julian calendar. All Eastern Christians, though, celebrate Easter and the related holy days at the same time.
Most of the dates on this page that are labelled "Christian: Eastern" are linked to the Greek Orthodox Saint of the Day Calendar, a New Style calendar, and to Feasts and Saints of the Orthodox Church. The days of the Eastern Holy Week are linked to The Services of Holy Week. Days in the Eastern calendar begin on the preceding evening.
The Orthodox Church Calendar for 1997 shows how the Old Style calendar is celebrated within the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Ecclesiastical Calendar explains the difference between the two calendars, with links to other articles. The Ethiopian Orthodox Calendar leads to several pages describing the holy days of that church.
If the Eastern Christian calendar is complex, the Western Christian tradition is a maze. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, the churches breaking away from Roman Catholicism disagreed on how much the Western Christian calendar should be reformed. Some denominations simplified the calendar, keeping the individual saints' days; others eliminated the saints' days but kept the holy days associated with the life of Jesus; still others came to believe that Sunday or Saturday is the only Christian holy day.
As a result, it is impossible to speak of a single Western Christian calendar; it is not even possible to say that, because someone is a Christian, he celebrates Easter. The three Western denominations that have calendars that are closest to the pre-Reformation calendar are the Catholics, the Lutherans, and the Anglicans. Rather than compile an ecumenical calendar that would represent no Western Christian calendar that ever existed, the dates on this page that are labelled "Christian: Western" are based upon the Anglican calendar. Most of the fixed holy days are linked to the Calendar of Christian Historical Biographies, an Anglican calendar by James Kiefer. Days on the Catholic calendar and on some Protestant calendars begin on the previous evening.
Anglican Webpages have begun to construct an excellent calendar section, Seasons in Spirit. Clavis Regni, an Anglican site, lists articles in Seasons of Worship that give a general overview of the Western Christian year. Three Catholic sites offer additional information about holy day worship and saints' days: The Catholic Calendar Page, Catholic Online Saints Calendar, and Liturgical Calendar. For further links to Western Christianity's most important holy days, visit A Holy Easter and A Holy Christmas (both part of the Kir-Shalom site, edited by a United Church of Canada minister and his wife), as well as Easter in Cyberspace: A Christian Perspective ("No bunnies at this site") and Christmas in Cyberspace: A Christian Perspective ("No Santas here").
But the most in-depth information on the Western Christian calendar can be found in a series of Catholic books written by Francis X. Wieser that are now, happily, posted on the Web: Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, The Holyday Book, The Year of Our Lord in the Christian Home, The Christmas Book, and The Easter Book.
Although disagreements occur between different Islamic traditions over which holy days to celebrate, the Islamic calendar is fairly straightforward except where it comes to dating. Since the Islamic calendar is a purely lunar calendar, the dates of its holy days change each year, and because those dates are determined by the sighting of the moon, Muslims in different parts of the world may celebrate the same holy day on different dates. The dates and spellings of the holy days in this Interfaith Calendar are taken from The Islamic Calendar for North America. Most of the descriptions come from Islamic Events. Islamic days begin on the previous evening.
A Brief Introduction to the Islamic (Hijri) Calendar, by Waleed A. Muhanna, is a clear and helpful description of the Islamic calendar. Descriptions of Islamic holy days are given at Islamic Holidays and Observances, the Calendar of Muslim Holidays, and Islamic Festivals in Singapore. Information about the holiest month of the Islamic year can be found at Fasting Ramadhan, Fasting Ramadhan and Zakat Al-Fitr, and Ramadan and Fasting.
Except for certain modern holy days (not listed on this calendar), Jewish holy days are universally observed. Jewish days begin on the previous evening; certain holy days may be celebrated for two days, depending on where the person lives or what tradition he follows. The days on this calendar are taken from Judaism 101: Jewish Holidays.
This is the place where the editor admits apologetically that she ran short of time this year and did not have time to explore all of the Jewish holy day sites on the Web. A good place to search through the wealth of sites available is Yahoo's Judaism: Holidays page.
When Pagans of various covens and groves gather together, they sometimes refer to their gatherings as "interfaith." This reflects the fact that the modern Pagan movement draws on a variety of ancient European faiths; as a result, the names for Pagan holy days vary a great deal.
The main holy days, though, are common to all Pagans. There are eight major Pagan holidays or Sabbats: four quarter or solar days (Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox, and Winter Solstice) and four cross-quarter days (Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain). The holidays may vary within a few days as to when they are celebrated; Pagans who celebrate the solar days with astronomical accuracy will gather this year on March 20, June 21, September 23, and December 22.
The Pagan holy days on this calendar are linked to The Witches' Web of Days, a day-by-day calendar of the Pagan year. Mike Nichols provides interesting historical background to the holy days in The Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft, while The Eight Holidays of Witchcraft presents an overview of the year, and Seán Knight gives helpful hints on how to celebrate the Pagans seasons in the southern hemisphere in his essay, The Wheel of the Year in Australia.
© 1998 Heather Elizabeth
This page is a feature of Greenbelt Interfaith News. For interfaith news from around the world, visit our home page (www.greenbelt.com/news).