Holidays of 2023

I’ve been looking up holidays for secret reasons, and part of this involves stalking them in their native habitats and observing the times they cluster together. Also, trying to take samples of their primary food items.

Since I’m already making a calendar of major holidays, I thought it might be fun for us to have a thread where we can exchange greetings and share information about holidays we celebrate. For reasons, I’m mostly focusing on widespread or major religious holidays, not national holidays, but I can change it if people prefer. Also, I have notes on how the dates are determined - solar means that the dates are determined by the solar year, other calendars or means of determining are noted. If you would like to add more to the calendar, please let me know. I have probably missed a lot because the secret project is a bit exhausting. Dates are Gregorian since most people here seem to use it.

January
1st: Gregorian New Year [Solar]
22nd: Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year, Seollal, Shōgatsu, Tết Nguyên Đán) [First new moon after January 21]

February
Feb 22 - April 6: Western Lent [40 days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox] (Christianity)
Feb 27 - April 7: Eastern Lent [same, but with a week of drift because they don’t have leap years] (Christianity)

March
6-7: Purim [14 Adar in most places, 15 in ancient walled cities] (Judaism)
8: Holi, Festival of Colors [first full moon in the month of Phalguna] (Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc)
9: Hola Mohalla [day after Holi] (Sikhism)
20: Spring Equinox
20: Nawruz, Iranian New Year [spring equinox] (secular, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, Shi’a Islam)
Mar 22/23 - Apr 20/21: Ramadan [the month of Ramadan] (Islam)

April
4: Mahavir Jayanti
5 - 13: Pesach, aka Passover [15 Nisan - 23 Nisan] (Judaism)
9: Easter (Western) [first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox] (Christianity)
16: Easter (Eastern) [same, but with one week of drift] (Christianity)
Apr 21 - May 3: Ridván [solar] (Baha’i)
Apr 21/22: Eid al-Fitr [first day of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan] (Islam)

May
23: Declaration of the Báb [solar] (Baha’i)
25-26: Shavuot [6 Sivan] (Judaism)
28-29: Ascension of Baha’u’lláh [solar] (Baha’i)

June
21: Summer Solstice
28-29: Eid al-Adha [10 Dhu al-Hijjah] (Islam)

July
26-27: Tisha B’Av (not a happy day) [9 Av] (Judaism)

August
Devoid of holidays

September
6-7: Krishna Janmashtami [Shraavana 23/Bhadrapada 8] (Hinduism)
12: Paryushana begins [Śrāvaṇ dark 13] (Jainism)
15-17: Rosh HaShanah [1 Tishrei] (Judaism)
23: Autumn Equinox
24-25: Yom Kippur (not happy) [10 Tishrei] (Judaism)
26-27: Mawlid [12 Rabi’ al-awwal] (Sunni Islam)
Sep 29 - Oct 6/7: Sukkot [15-21 Tishrei] (Judaism)

October
1-2: Mawlid [17 Rabi’ al-awwal] (Shi’a Islam)
6-7: Simchat Torah [22 Tishrei] (Judaism)
15-24: Navaratri (Hinduism)
16-17: Twin Holy Birthdays [eighth new moon after Nawruz] (Baha’i)

November
9-14: Diwali (Hinduism, Jainism)

December
7-15: Hanukkah [25 Kislev - 3 Tevet] (Judaism)
22: Winter Solstice
24: Christmas Eve [Solar] (Christian)
25: Christmas [Solar] (Christian)
Dec 26 - Jan 1: Kwanzaa [Solar]
31: Gregorian New Year’s Eve [Solar]

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  • Adding to the list above (I’ve edited it to keep only the India-specific holidays celebrated by the listed religions) for holidays from India with religious roots.
  • I’m not adding modern holidays like Independence Day or Labour Day etc., or holidays for the births or deaths of national heroes.
  • Not all of the above or the below dates are holidays from work a la Christmas, but all are celebrated in some form annually.
  • Depending on the region or culture one belongs to, the dates for the celebrations of the same festival may differ. For example, you’ll see multiple different dates/names for ‘New Year’, including the Gregorian and the official Hindu calendar.
  • While normally the holidays recur pretty much in the same period annually, there are times when there’s almost a month difference in the later holidays of the year. The reason: The Hindu calendar follows 12 lunar months a year, but with a leap month added every 2.5 years (but still landing in the later half of the Gregorian year) to match with the sidereal year, hence making holiday dates go haywire now and then.
  • Op has listed a Sikh holiday which isn’t specifically celebrated elsewhere. There are more, but those are mostly the anniversaries related to their primary Teachers so not listed here. They otherwise share their holidays with Hindu festivals too.

If you need more context on any of the listed holidays (above or below), please feel free to ask, I’ll be happy to help.

January
14-15: Makar Sankranti / Pongal / Uttarayan / Lohri.

(Note: This is the only Solar calendar festival in the Indic festival list, it corresponds to the Sun exiting Capricorn and starting its northward journey, hence recurring on a date that’s the same as the (or ±1 day) Gregorian Calendar date. All other festivals are lunar and hence change dates every year.)

February
18: Shivratri

March
22: Gudi Padwa / Ugadi (both New Year festivals for specific cultures)
30: Ram Navami

April
4: Mahavir Jayanti (The date (14 Apr) listed above for it is wrong per se, and that one is also Ambedkar Jayanti but we’re not listing it in this specific list.)
14: Bihu / Tamil New Year
15: Bengali New Year / Vishu
(Bihu and Vishu are also culture-specific New Year days)

May
5: Buddha Purnima

June
20: Rath Yatra

July
3: Guru Purnima

August
16: Parsi New Year
29: Onam
30: Raksha Bandhan

September
19: Ganesh Chaturthi (complete festival 19-28)

October
(Within the Navratri festival):
21-23: Durga Puja (Bengali)
24: Dussehra
28: Sharad Purnima

November
1: Karva Chauth
(Within the Diwali period):
12: Diwali/Deepavali (same festival, different nomenclature)
13: Vikram Samvat New Year (Official New Year for the Hindu Calendar)
15: Bhai Dooj
19: Chhath
26: Dev Diwali

December
No India-specific holidays.

Hope the list is useful.

My sources:
Holidays and Observances in India in 2023 & India Public Holidays 2023 - PublicHolidays.in

3 Likes

Thanks! I was having a bit of trouble with these holidays; most of the dates I could find were from previous years and didn’t specify the dates on the actual calendar they’re meant for, and some of the lists were contradictory.

I fixed Mahavir Jayanti in the list above.

I was thinking of writing a short bit for each holiday (or having someone who celebrates write about it) as they come up. Basically a brief overview of the holiday and how you’d greet someone who celebrates. Would you be interested in doing that for these holidays?

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Before we begin, I forgot one:

7 Mar: Holi - First day. (8 Mar which is the more famous one is the 2nd day of Holi. More details below.)

If I start doing that for the entire list, the most generous of character limits will fall short before we’re even halfway through. The best is to go through the Wikipedia entry for each festival and create a precis that you need. Many of the festivals aren’t really of the ‘celebrate and wish each other’ type, rather they are a lot of either boisterous public celebrations or private moments shared with family and friends in prayer at home. Customs differ from district to district - leave alone states or cultures at large. The North celebrating one festival will be so different from the West celebrating the same that they will literally give the event a completely different name altogether. For example, 14-15 Jan:
Northern India: Lohri
Western India - Gujarat: Uttarayan
Western India - Maharashtra: Makar Sankranti
Southern India: Pongal
And this is a moderate example. Massive differences are there as you cross every 100-200 km or change from urban to rural.

This is just to inform you of the massivity of the project in hand. It’s not an easy task to list all of it out.

Meanwhile, I’ll just give a brief descriptor of some of the ones I’m connected to in some form.
Makar Sankranti / Pongal / Uttarayan / Lohri: explained above and in the previous post. Celebrated with sweets and kiteflying in Western India, sweets and feasts in the South, and harvest festivals in the North, among others.
Shivratri: The night of Lord Shiva. Sometimes celebrated with bhang, a dairy-based concoction whose primary ingredient is the crushed leaves of the cannabis plant.
Holi: it primarily celebrates the end of winter and the coming harvest. A huge pyre is lit the previous night (on 7 Mar 2023) and everyone gathers around it to celebrate. There’s also a mythological story behind it: Prahlad & Holika are the names you can google to get more info.
Gudi Padwa / Ugadi: New year celebrations, basically agrarian in nature as the start of the harvest switches everyone over from one crop season to another.
Ram Navami: Birth date of Lord Rama of the Ramayana.
Mahavir Jayanti: The date of birth of the latest preceptor of the Jain faith.
Baisakhi: The harvest festival.
Buddha Purnima: The date on which the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and also passed away.
Rath Yatra: The date on which the Jagganatha Ratha Yatra, the Chariot Festival, is held. (Quick aside: Looking at the large size of the chariots themselves, the word ‘juggernaut’ was born.)
Guru Purnima: A major festival for those who learn and those who teach. It’s The Teacher’s Festival date. For The Buddha’s followers, it’s the day when he put the Wheel of Dhamma in motion, and started Teaching. It also signifies the start of the 3-month Monsoon Retreat period for monks.
Parsi New Year: The Parsi are people of Persian origin who left their lands to escape persecution after the early Arabian-Islamic conquests of Iran. While they have many festivals, this is the only public holiday from that list. While their numbers have dwindled to less than 60,000 now, their current and historical exploits as businesspeople, philanthropists and industrialists have ensured an influence on the nation exponentially larger than their population.
Raksha Bandhan: A family celebration. Generally, sisters tie a thread on their brothers’ wrists, symbolically a bond of protection between the two. Many communities also have others tying such threads on their protectors’ wrists.
Krishna Janmashtami: The purported date of birth of Krishna, one of the major Gods in the Hindu pantheon. Celebrated with fanfare in Krishna and Vishnu temples around the country at midnight, and on the next day there are public celebrations. The human pyramids of Mumbai’s Govindas are part of this. Based on a mythological story: google for ‘Birth of Krishna’ from the Mahabharata.
Paryushana: The Jain faith, already comparatively austere in living (in certain ways only), goes even more austere during this period. A sort of cleansing period for self-improvement and introspection.
Ganesh Chaturthi: The festival for public celebrations. Celebrating Lord Ganesha, people put up idols ranging from small ones at homes to gigantic ones in public groups, from 1.5 to 11 days. At the end of the period, the idols are ceremonially sunk in water bodies, usually rivers or seas.
Navratri: While most other festivals are related to either natural phenomena (full moon nights, changeovers from one season to another, equinoxes et al) or to male gods, this period is specifically for Female goddesses in the pantheon. It’s usually a nocturnal festival, with events going throughout the night in many cases. Celebrated mostly in Western India
Durga Puja: Ditto the above, but with different traditions, 3 days instead of 9. Celebrated mostly in Eastern India
Dussehra: The end of the Navratri festival. Also covers many other traditional events. The primary being the date when Lord Rama vanquished Ravana in the Ramayana.
Sharad Purnima: A normal full moon night for most, for Buddhists it signifies the date when the Monsoon Retreat ends.
Karva Chauth: A festival that’s losing favour lately, given its extremely sexist nature. Wives fast the whole day and then eat only at night after glancing at the rising moon and looking at their husbands’ faces. The prayer is supposedly for the husband’s well-being and to ensure that he remains the husband and she the wife for the next seven births. Point to note: The husbands are free to do as they wish, no fasting period or prayers or rituals for them, thus the sexism.
Diwali: The FESTIVAL to celebrate. Lights, fireworks, lamps, the works. Prayers to Goddess Lakshmi for ensuring the coming days are filled with joy and riches.
Vikram Samvat New Year: Technically, most communities have a different new year, this one is celebrated only by the Gujaratis. It’s the day when they also switch over their accounting books from one year to the next one. Since the Indian accounting year follows the Gregorian April to March as a financial year, the next year’s books are given prayers and symbolically started to be written on, while they’ll actually start getting used the next April only.
Bhai Dooj: Basically a complement of Raksha Bandhan. While sisters visit brothers there, here the brothers visit the sisters and both share a feast.
Dev Diwali: Basically the winding down of Diwali celebrations, finishing off the leftover foods and taking down the lights and decorations.

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[I’ll be doing these a couple days in advance, if I remember]
Lunar New Year aka. Chinese New Year

This is the beginning of the new year for a good chunk of Eastern Asia (though Southeast Asia tends to happen in April and Japan changed to the Gregorian calendar). The new year is one of the most important holidays of the year, if not the most important. Common traditions to all of these include cleaning the house or other important sites (like family graves or shrines), visiting family, creating poetry, and giving money to others in red envelopes (particularly younger family members) as a wish for prosperity in the new year. Some examples of how this is celebrated:

China has the Spring Festival (春节) with three official holidays and traditions that span half a month before and after. Traditional foods include pickled garlic, dumplings, chicken, pork, fish which is not finished until the following day (due to a pun on the phrase “have blessings every year”), and fat choy (a vegetable that sounds like prosperity). In the south, there is also a special cake called nian gao. This upcoming year is Year of the Rabbit, specifically the Water Rabbit.

Korea celebrates Seollal (설날), short for Eumnyeok Seollal (음력 설날), or the lunar new year. Some celebrate Yangnyeok Seollal (양력 설날), or the solar new year, with the Gregorian calendar. Seollal is celebrated over the course of three days. Traditional foods include a rice cake soup (tteokguk), fritters (jeon), and a noodle dish (japchae). Families will play games together and fly kites.

Vietnam celebrates Tết Nguyên Đán, or just Tết. This is the most important holiday of the year. While most of the Vietnamese zodiac is the same as the Chinese zodiac, the rabbit is replaced by the cat, so this will be the Year of the Cat. The festival is three days long. One of the most important foods is sticky rice with meat and bean fillings (Bánh chưng and bánh tét). Other foods are roasted melon seeds, pickled onions and cabbages, pickled leeks, candy, meat stewed in coconut juice, and rice infused with gac fruit. In the south, they may place fruits at the family altar: soursops, coconut, figs, papaya, and mango, which sound like a traditional prayer.

Some Greetings:

  • 新年快乐, or Xin nian kuai le (Mandarin) / San(1) nin(4) fai(3) lok(6) (Cantonese); literally translates to “Happy New Year!”

  • 恭喜发财, or Gong xi fa cai (Mandarin) / Gong(1) hei(2) fat(3) choi(4) (Cantonese); loosely translated to “Congratulations and be prosperous”

  • 새해 복 많이 받으세요, or Saehae bok mani badeuseyo (Korean); “Please receive a lot of good fortune for the New Year”, typically given to older members of the family

  • 祝𢜠𢆥㵋, or Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Vietnamese), meaning “Happy New Year!”

  • 恭祝新春, or Cung Chúc Tân Xuân (Vietnamese), meaning “gracious wishes of the new spring”

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Russia celebrates their orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January.

Which, of course, Putin used for exploitation purposes: