Birthday of Haile Selassie: Rastafari celebrate the final Ethiopian emperor

Dark-skinned man in Rasta hat and sunglasses, making peace sign with fingers

A Rastafari man. Photo courtesy of Pxhere

TUESDAY, JULY 23: Rastafari around the world—estimated to number 700,000 to 1 million—hold Nyabingi drumming sessions and celebrate the birthday anniversary of their God incarnate, Haile Selassie I. (Note: The belief that Selassie is God incarnate is not universally held; some Rastas regard Selassie as a messenger of God.) Born Ras Tafari Makonnen, Haile Selassie served as Ethiopia’s regent from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974.

TAFARI MAKONNEN: FROM MUD HUT TO PALACE

Beginnings were meager for this emperor-to-be, born in a mud hut in Ethiopia in 1892. Selassie—originally named Tafari Makonnen—was a governor’s son, assuming the throne of Ethiopia in a complex struggle for succession. The nation’s leaders favored Tafari for the role of emperor—and, in 1930, he was crowned. Selassie would become Ethiopia’s last emperor.

Years prior to Haile Selassie’s enthronement, American black-nationalist leader Marcus Garvey began preaching of a coming messiah who would lead the peoples of Africa, and the African diaspora, into freedom. When news of Selassie’s coronation reached Jamaica, it became evident to some that Selassie was this foretold of messiah. Beyond the prophesies in the book of Revelation and New Testament that Rastafari point to as proof of Selassie’s status, the emperor also could trace his lineage back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Rastafari pointed to Selassie as the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David and the King of Kings.

Did you know? The Rastafari receive their name from the combination of Ras—an honorific title, meaning “head”—and Tafari, part of Selassie’s birth name.

Selassie remained a lifelong Christian, but never reproached the Rastafari for their beliefs in him as the returned messiah. To this day, Rastafari rejoice on July 23, the anniversary of his birth.

TIME MAGAZINE AND THE WORLD: SELASSIE’S STORY

Magazine cover, man on front in fancy clothing of nobility

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

LEAGUE OF NATIONS—One of the most poignant chapters in Selassie’s life—and a key reason that he came to global attention—was an impassioned appeal for help that Selassie delivered to the League of Nations in 1936. In 1936, TIME magazine named him its Man of the Year.

The magazine’s “honor,” today, looks like nothing but ridicule for what TIME editors regarded as a foolish figure on the global stage. Dripping with sarcasm and openly racist, the TIME profile of Selassie included this description of him:

The astounding marvel is that Africa’s unique Museum of Peoples has produced a businessman—with high-pressure publicity, compelling sales talk, the morals of a patent medicine advertisement, a grasp of both savage and diplomatic mentality, and finally with plenty of what Hollywood calls “it.”

Selassie was in a life-and-death struggle with Italian aggression in his homeland. The TIME cover story appeared in January 1936. International opinions of Selassie changed dramatically that summer, when he made a passionate plea for help in a personal appearance before the League of Nations in Europe. His plea did not result in the help he sought, but the appeal now is considered a milestone in 20th century history. William Safire included the League address in his book, Great Speeches in American History.

NEWS: RASTAFARI PLEA FOR RELIGIOUS RECOGNITION FOR CANNABIS USE

Rastafari in the Bahamas are requesting state recognition and inclusion involving their use of cannabis in a sacramental manner in their communities, as was reported by Tribune 242. Sources report that Rasta priests in the Bahamas hold the opinion that, as occurred in Jamaica and Antigua, the government should issue a formal apology for the longstanding oppression placed upon Rastafari communities for their sacramental use of cannabis. Rather than risk arrest or job security for what Rastas regard as “a way of life” and their “sacrament,” those in the Bahamas are voicing requests for further national discussions on marijuana law.

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Categories: Rastafari

Birthday of Haile Selassie: Rastafari celebrate his courage on global stage

1936 Haile Selassie as TIME magazine's Man of the YearSATURDAY, JULY 23: Rastafari far and wide hold Nyabingi drumming sessions and revel in the birthday anniversary of their God incarnate, Haile Selassie.

ORIGINS—Beginnings were meager for this emperor-to-be, born in a mud hut in Ethiopia, in 1892. Selassie—originally named Tafari Makonnen—was a governor’s son, assuming the throne of Ethiopia in a complex struggle for succession. The nation’s leaders favored Tafari for the role of emperor—and, in 1930, he was crowned. Selassie would become Ethiopia’s last emperor, and today, he is viewed as the messiah of the Rastafari. (Biography.com has more on Selassie’s life.)

Years prior to Haile Selassie’s enthronement, American black-nationalist leader Marcus Garvey began preaching of a coming messiah who would lead the peoples of Africa, and the African diaspora, into freedom. When news of Selassie’s coronation reached Jamaica, it became evident to some that Selassie was this foretold of messiah. (Wikipedia has details.) Beyond the prophesies in the Book of Revelation and New Testament that Rastafari point to as proof of Selassie’s status, the emperor also could trace his lineage back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Rastafari pointed to Selassie as the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David and the King of Kings.

Selassie remained a lifelong Christian, but never reproached the Rastafari for their beliefs in him as the returned messiah. To this day, Rastafari rejoice on July 23, the anniversary of his birth.

Did you know? The Rastafari receive their name from the combination of Ras—an honorific title, meaning “head”—and Tafari, part of Selassie’s birth name.

SELASSIE’S BITTERSWEET STORY

LEAGUE OF NATIONS—One of the most poignant chapters in Selassie’s life—and a key reason that he came to global attention—was an impassioned appeal for help that Selassie delivered to the League of Nations in 1936. It’s also the 80th anniversary of TIME magazine naming him its Man of the Year.

The magazine’s “honor,” today, looks like nothing but ridicule for what TIME editors regarded as a foolish figure on the global stage. Dripping with sarcasm and openly racist, the TIME profile of Selassie included this description of him:

The astounding marvel is that Africa’s unique Museum of Peoples has produced a businessman—with high-pressure publicity, compelling sales talk, the morals of a patent medicine advertisement, a grasp of both savage and diplomatic mentality, and finally with plenty of what Hollywood calls “it.”

Selassie was in a life-and-death struggle with Italian aggression in his homeland. The TIME cover story appeared in January 1936. International opinions of Selassie changed dramatically that summer when he made a passionate plea for help in a personal appearance before the League of Nations in Europe. His plea did not result in the help he sought, but the appeal now is considered a milestone in 20th century history. William Safire included the League address in his book, Great Speeches in American History.

After January, when TIME made fun of Selassie in its openly racist cover story, the world witnessed Italian armed forces brutally crushing Selassie’s Ethiopian army and conquering his country, declaring the nation to be the property of Italy. Selassie did not want to flee the country but did so for his own safety at the urging of Ethiopian leaders. He arrived in Geneva and delivered the plea to the League, excerpts of which were carried in newsreels around the world.

At one point, he declared:

I pray to Almighty God that He may spare nations the terrible sufferings that have just been inflicted on my people, and of which the chiefs who accompany me here have been the horrified witnesses.

The tragic aftermath of this speech was that the League did not help him, Fascists continued to take power in Europe and soon all of Europe was experiencing the “terrible sufferings” Selassie described.

GROUNDATION DAY—Each spring, Rastafari celebrate Groundation Day, marking Selassie’s triumphant visit to Jamaica in 1966—50 years ago this year. Some remarkable LIFE magazine photographs from that event are on display in the TIME website. They’re worth a look, partly because these photos by Lynn Pelham never ran in the American edition of LIFE. Now, we are able to look back at what the magazine describes this way:

The images capture something of the fervor and delight, as well as the barely restrained chaos, among thousands of believers upon seeing the man they considered a messiah—and whom countless others still view as a power-hungry fraud. Informal observations made by LIFE staffers who were there provide some fascinating insights into how the proceedings were viewed—hint: negatively—by at least some in the national press.

In notes that accompanied Pelham’s rolls of Ektachrome film to LIFE’s offices in New York just days after Selassie’s visit, for example, an editor for the magazine wrote privately to his colleagues that “the Rastafarians went wild on Selassie’s arrival. They broke police lines and swarmed around the emperor’s DC-6 [plane]. They kept touching his plane, yelling ‘God is here,’ and knocking down photographer Pelham, who got smacked. The Rastafarians fouled up the visit, as far as most Jamaicans were concerned. But Selassie seemed to love the attention these strange, wild-eyed, lawless and feared Jamaicans gave him.”

Interested in more? View a modern Rastafari celebration for Haile Selassie’s birthday here.

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Categories: AnniversaryRastafari

Anniversary: Rastafari, Civil Rights marks birthday of Marcus Garvey

“[Garvey] was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale … to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., June 1965

Painting of dark-skinned man with colorful background and quote

Marcus Garvey Square in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Mark Gstohl, courtesy of Flickr

MONDAY, AUGUST 17: A Black Nationalist who inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., united Malcom X’s parents and now has schools, colleges, highways and buildings honoring him across Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and United States is honored today, on the anniversary of his birth: the birthday of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.

Throughout his life, Marcus Garvey led the Black Nationalist movement by creating the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), founding the Negro World newspaper as a major vehicle for communication and launching the Black Star Line, an international shipping company. Through the 1920s, Garvey’s public speeches contained mention of a “black king” who would soon be crowned in Africa and offer deliverance; the Rastafari believe Garvey to be prophetic, foretelling the crowing of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. For the Rastafari, Garvey is still seen as a religious prophet, similar to St. John the Baptist.

UNIA AND PAN-AFRICAN MOVEMENT

Born in Jamaica in 1887, Marcus Garvey learned to read in his father’s library and sought to unite Africans of the diaspora. The UNIA, formed in 1914, was the “broadest mass movement in African-American history,” created with a mission to provide economic and educational opportunities and inspiration for Africans of the diaspora. (Learn more from History.com and Biography.com.) The UNIA developed the Pan-African flag (colored red, black and green) to represent a race and movement. Though ultimately unsuccessful, Garvey worked hard to develop a colony for free blacks in Africa. (Wikipedia has details.) At its peak, the UNIA claimed millions of members.

GARVEY’S INFLUENCE: RASTAFARI & MORE

During his lifetime, Marcus Garvey also faced criticism from many quarters, including from many African-Americans. One of his critics was W.E.B Du Bois. Nonetheless, Garvey’s efforts fueled what eventually became the Civil Rights movement and the concept of a secular organization for blacks. Earl and Louise Little, parents of Malcolm X, met at a UNIA convention in Montreal; the Rastafari continue to view Garvey as a prophet. Garvey died in London in June of 1940.

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Categories: AnniversaryInternational ObservancesRastafari

Haile Selassie: Celebrating Bob Marley’s 70th on a Rastafari birthday

Colored headshot of Bob Marley laughing

Bob Marley brought international attention to the Rastafari movement. Photo by Jason H. Smith, courtesy of Flickr

THURSDAY, JULY 23: During what would have been the year of Bob Marley’s 70th birthday, the world celebrates the legend of a Reggae artist—and, for the Rastafari, the man who helped place their religion on the international stage. Today, the Rastafari acclaim the birthday of their messiah, Emperor Haile Selassie—a man referenced in lyrics of Marley’s songs. In Rastafari communities worldwide, Selassie’s birthday is met with Nyabingi drumming sessions, chanting and dancing. Born in a mud hut in Ethiopia in 1892, Selassie—named Tafari Makonnen at birth—was the son of a governor who would become the final emperor of Ethiopia.

Did you know? The Rastafari receive their name from the combination of Ras—an honorific title, meaning “head”—and Tafari, part of Selassie’s birth name.

Looking for more Marley and other artists’ peacemaking music? Check out modern-day interfaith peacemaker Dan Buttry’s column—complete with links to videos.

Rastafari point to several sources as proof of Selassie’s destiny: astrological occurrences at the time of Selassie’s birth, a lineage traceable to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the prophesies of Marcus Garvey and biblical passages relating to Ethiopia and Zion. The constellation of Leo, which represents the house of Judah, was in full effect during the birth of Selassie on July 23, 1892. Marcus Garvey had been preaching of a messiah who would lead the African people to freedom. Biblical text relays that “he will be called … conquering lion of the tribe of Judah.” (For a Rasta view, click here.) When news of Selassie’s assumption of the Ethiopian throne reached Jamaica in 1930, the Rastafari movement was born.

Are Rastas Christian? Many Rastas believe in Jesus and embrace the Bible. What sets Rastas apart from other Christians is their belief that Haile Selassie was (is) a messiah. During his lifetime, Haile Selassie remained an Ethiopian Christian.

NEWS: OBAMA VISITS MARLEY MUSEUM, FAMILY CONTINUES LEGEND

President Barack Obama visited The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, last April, and the museum has been receiving international media attention throughout the year of Marley’s 70th birth anniversary. Beyond Reggae, Marley wrote songs about war, revolution, protest, human rights and justice. Marley’s greatest hits collection, Legend, has been certified platinum 15 times, and the BBC named “One Love” the Song of the Millennium. This year, Billboard reviewed both the continued marketing of Marley’s image (he ranked No. 5 on Forbes’ 2014 Top Earning Dead Celebrity list) and the 10 protest songs that best exemplify his fight for social justice.

Interested in more? View a modern Rastafari celebration for Haile Selassie’s birthday here, and Time’s photos of Selassie’s 1966 visit to Jamaica here. Rita Marley, Bob Marley’s wife, converted to the Rasta faith after seeing Haile Selassie on his trip to Jamaica, claiming to have seen a stigmata print on his palm as he waved to the crowd. Rita influenced Bob in his conversion to Rastafari.

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Categories: Rastafari

Ethiopians and Rastafari mark Enkutatash, New Year, 40th anniversary

Dark-skinned boy holding out orange flower  with yellow flowers in background

An Ethiopian New Year card. Photo courtesy of the International Livestock Research Institute and Flickr

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: Harvest and autumn themes take center stage in many September holidays and celebrations, but in Ethiopia, the opposite is true: Today is Enkutatash, the first day of the Ethiopian New Year and the end of the rainy season. Flowers are bursting into bloom in the fields, and young children gather bouquets to bring to friends. Enkutatash typically begins in church and leads to traditional shared meals, the exchange of New Year’s songs and greetings. (Wikipedia has details.) Many Ethiopians recall, today, the return of the Queen of Sheba from her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem.

Did you know? The Ethiopian calendar is based on the Coptic calendar, which was fixed to the Julian calendar in 25 BCE. The New Year date is August 29 on the Julian calendar—which, given the current 13-day gap between calendars—pegs Enkutatash as September 11 on the Gregorian calendar.

Beyond Ethiopia, many families around the world have begun marking Enkutatash. The Ethiopian African Millennium Group promoted a massive festival in 2007, and large celebrations have taken place in Washington, San Jose and Seattle. Long before the Western festivals for Enkutatash, though, the Rastafari—ardent believers in late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as the Messiah—have marked this event, with Nyabinghi drumming sessions, shared meals and joy.

Hungry? Try an easy-to-follow recipe for traditional Enkutatash wat (stew), courtesy of In Culture Parent.

ANNIVERSARY OF EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE

Rastafari and Ethiopians may note tomorrow’s 40th anniversary of the ousting of Emperor Haile Selassie, by the Dergue junta. On September 12, 1974, reformist officers toppled the monarchy that had ruled Ethiopia for centuries. Emperor Haile Selassie—nicknamed Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings—could trace his lineage back thousands of years, to (many believe) the Queen of Sheba. The final emperor of Ethiopia had ruled 26 million subjects and gained the worship of growing numbers of Rastafari—many of whom still believe today.

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Categories: AnniversaryRastafari

Centennial of United Negro Improvement Association; birth of Marcus Garvey

Black-and-white photo of seated adult Marcus Garvey

Today, Rastafari and followers of Marcus Garvey celebrate his birth anniversary; this year, many also mark the centennial of the organization Garvey founded, the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNDAY, AUGUST 17: Global celebrations, this summer, mark the centennial anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Exhibits in his name, lectures and events are drawing Rastafari devotees as well as families of Jamaican heritage and those interested in African-American history. In the midst of that observance, today marks the August 17, 1887, birth of Marcus Garvey.

Regarded as a prophet the likes of St. John the Baptist in the Rastafari religion, Garvey was born in Jamaica. During his lifetime, Garvey attracted millions of followers and built an enormously popular organization that honored African heritage in the Americas. Though his politics and viewpoints were regarded as controversial by many, Garvey earned the title of Jamaica’s first national hero and left an undeniable imprint on history.

LIFE AND TIMES:
THE STORY OF MARCUS GARVEY

Born the youngest of 11 children, Marcus Garvey developed a devotion to reading during childhood. After departing from Jamaica in 1910, Garvey worked as a newspaper editor, and began traveling; he attended college and, in 1914, organized the UNIA. As the organization grew, Garvey’s popularity soared—although opposition to his philosophies and ideas accompanied his success.

When the UNIA’s business, the Black Star Line, drew charges of mail fraud, the consequences would later haunt Garvey. Nonetheless, during that same time, the UNIA’s membership continued to grow—surpassing 4 million members. (Wikipedia has details.) Garvey tried to develop Liberia as a permanent homeland for the African Diaspora and spoke frequently on education, economics and independence.

During speeches in the 1920s, Garvey often spoke of looking to Africa for a black king who was to be crowned. When Haile Selassie I was crowned emperor of Ethiopia, many regarded Garvey as a prophet. The followers of this philosophy, who call themselves Rastafari, still believe Garvey to be a prophet.

In 1940, Garvey died in London, at age 52. Primarily, Garvey is memorialized globally for advancing a global mass empowerment focused on Africa and blacks of the Diaspora. Martin Luther King commented, in a speech in 1965, that Garvey “was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.”

IN THE NEWS:
UNIA CENTENNIAL

Last month, the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, D.C., praised the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the UNIA, duly noting Garvey’s heroic status in Jamaica and the continuing influence of his life in the lives of people in the Diaspora. (Atlanta Black Star reported.) This month, the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will be exhibiting a gallery of original photos, magazines, books and posters dedicated to Garvey’s cause and the UNIA. The exhibit will also showcase the UNIA’s current membership and activities. (Read more in this article.)

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Categories: AnniversaryRastafari

Interfaith Calendar: Religious and Cultural Observances

Read The Spirit reports on major holidays, festivals, milestones and other observances that shape community life around the world. As we approach these special dates, our columnist Stephanie Fenton reports fresh stories about the way each milestone is marked. Please remember: DATES and OBSERVANCES VARY. Contact us if you notice an error—or want to suggest a holiday we should include in our coverage.

Here is our 2019 list …

JANUARY   2019

Ring-shaped cake with colorful candied fruits on top

A ring-shaped Epiphany cake, decorated with candied fruits. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1—Mary, Holy Mother of God (Catholic Christian)

1—Feast of St. Basil (Orthodox Christian)

1—Gantan-sai (New Year) (Shinto)

5—Twelfth Night (Christian)

5, 13—Guru Gobind Singh birthday (Sikh)

6—Epiphany (Christian) / Feast of the Theophany (Orthodox Christian) / Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day)

7—Feast of the Nativity (Orthodox Christian, Julian Calendar)

8—Feast of the Holy Family (Catholic Christian)

13—Maghi (Sikh)

13—Baptism of the Lord (Christian)

14—Lohri (Hindu)

14, 15—Makara Sankranti (Hindu)

18-25—Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Christian)

19—Timkat (Ethiopian Orthodox Christian)

Black-and-white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in suit with microphones, speaking outdoors

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

20—World Religion Day (Baha’i)

20—sundown, Tu B’Shvat (Jewish)

21—Mahayana New Year (Buddhist)

21—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (U.S.)

25—Conversion of St. Paul (Christian)

27—International Holocaust Remembrance Day

FEBRUARY   2019

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

1—National Wear Red Day (U.S.)

1—St. Brigid of Kildare (Celtic Christian)

2—Candlemas / Presentation of Christ in the Temple / The Presentation of the Lord (Christian)

2—Imbolc / Lughnassadh (Wicca, Pagan)

Groundhog on ground looking away from camera

Prediction of an early spring—or an extended winter—lies in the presence of the groundhog’s shadow on February 2. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2—Groundhog Day (U.S.)

3—Sestuban-sai (beginning of spring) (Shinto)

3—Four Chaplains Sunday (Interfaith)

5—Chinese New Year

9/10—Vasant Panchami (Hindu, Jain)

10—Cheesefare Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

11—Our Lady of Lourdes (Catholic Christian)

14—St. Valentine’s Day (Christian)

15—Nirvana Day (Buddhist) (Note: Some Buddhists observe on February 8, but most observe on February 15)

17—Triodion begins (Orthodox Christian)

18—Washington’s Birthday / Presidents Day (U.S.)

25—sundown, Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days) begins (Baha’i)

MARCH   2019

1—sundown, Nineteen-Day Fast begins (Baha’i)

3—Meatfare Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

3—Transfiguration Sunday (Christian)

Priest places ashes on forehead of woman

Receiving Ashes as Christians prepare for Lent.

3—Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day) (Japan)

4—Maha Shivaratri (Hindu)

5—Shrove Tuesday / Fat Tuesday (Christian)

6—Ash Wednesday (Christian)

8—Ramakrishna Jayanti (Hindu)

10—Cheesefare Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

10—Daylight Savings Time begins

11—Clean Monday (Great Lent begins) (Orthodox Christian)

13—Birthday of L.Ron Hubbard (Scientology)

17—St. Patrick’s Day (Christian)

17—Feast of Orthodoxy / Orthodox Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

19—St. Joseph’s Day (Christian)

Triangle-shaped pastries, filled with jam, on white plate with red cloth beneath

Haman’s pockets, a traditional treat made for Purium. Photo by ulterior epicure, courtesy of Flickr

20—Equinox

20—Ostara / Mabon (Wicca)

20— Holika Dahan (Hindu)

20—Fast of Esther (Jewish)

20—sundown, Purim (Jewish)

20—sundown, Naw-Ruz (New Year) (Baha’i)

20/21—Holi (Hindu, Sikh, Jain)

21—International Day of Nowruz / Norooz (Zoroastrain)

21—Hola Mohalla (Sikh)

21—Magha Puja Day (Buddhist)

25—The Annunciation/ Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary / Annunciation of Our Lady / Annunciation of the Lord (Catholic Christian)

April 2019

Large marble statue of man sitting with legs crossed, hands in lap, eyes closed, meditating

A marble depiction of Lord Mahavir in Delhi, India. Jains count the years of this era as having begun with Lord Mahavir’s attainment of moksha (nirvana). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons

2—sundown, Laylat al Miraj (Islam)

6—Ugadi (Hindu)

13/14—Rama Navami (Hindu)

14—Baisakhi/Vaisakhi (Sikh)

14—Palm Sunday (Christian)

17—Mahavir Jayanti (Jain)

18—Maundy Thursday (Christian)

19—Theravadin New Year (Buddhist)

19—Lord’s Evening Meal (Jehovah’s Witness Christian)

19—Good Friday (Christian)

19—Fast of the Firstborn; sundown, Passover begins (Jewish)

19—Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu)

20—Lazarus Saturday (Orthodox Christian)

20—sundown, First Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

20—sundown, Lailat al Bara’ah (Islam)

21—Easter Sunday (Christian)

Woman with baby, surrounded by other figures, in iconic ilustration

An Eastern Orthodox Christian depiction of the Nativity. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

21—Palm Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

22—Easter Monday (Christian)

22—Earth Day

26—Holy Friday (Orthodox Christian)

28—Pascha (Orthodox Christian)

28—sundown, Ninth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

MAY  2019

1—Beltane / Samhain (Wicca, Pagan)

1—sundown, Yom HaShoah (Jewish)

1—sundown, Twelfth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

2—National Day of Prayer (U.S.)

5—Cinco de Mayo

Mosque lit at night with people gathered

Muslims gather for a Quran reading during Ramadan in Iran. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

5—sundown, Ramadan begins (Islam)

7—sundown, Yom HaZikaron (Jewish)

7—Akshaya Tritiya (Jain)

8—sundown, Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Jewish)

12—Mother’s Day (U.S.)

19—Vesak (Buddhist)

22—sundown, Lag BaOmer (Jewish)

23—sundown, Declaration of the Bab (Baha’i)

27—Memorial Day (U.S.)

28—sundown, Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

30—Ascension of Jesus/the Lord (Christian) (Note: The ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha and Philadelphia will observe today; all other ecclesiastical provinces of the U.S. have transferred this Solemnity to Sunday, June 2.)

31—sundown, Laylat al Qadr (Islam)

JUNE   2019

Stalk of wheat in field of wheat

Wheat—one of the ‘First Fruits’ of ancient Israel—has long been offered during Shavuot. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

1—sundown, Yom Yerushalayim (Jewish)

3—sundown, fasting ends and on the morning of June 4 Eid al Fitr prayers are held (Islam)

6—Ascension of Jesus (Orthodox Christian)

8—sundown, Shavuot (Jewish)

9—Pentecost (Western Christian)

9—St. Columba of Iona (Celtic Christian)

10—Whit Monday (Christian)

14—Flag Day

16—Guru Arjan martyrdom (Sikh)

16—Trinity Sunday (Christian)

16—Father’s Day (U.S.)

19—New Church Day (Swedenborgian Christian)

19—Juneteenth

Group of people dressed in traditional clothing walking down street

A Corpus Christi procession. Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

20—Feast of Corpus Christi (Catholic Christian)

21—Solstice

20-24—Litha/Midsummer/Yule (Wicca, Pagan, varies by hemisphere)

23—Sunday of All Saints (Orthodox Christian)

24—Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (Christian)

28—Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Catholic Christian)

JULY   2019

Time magazine cover with black-and-white photo of young Emperor Haile Selassie

When news of Haile Selassie’s coronation reached Jamaica—the Rastafari religious tradition was born. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

4—Independence Day (U.S.)

8—at sunset, Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i)

13—Obon (Ullambana) (Buddhist/Shinto)

16—Asalha Puja Day (Buddhist)

20—sundown, 17th of Tammuz (The Three Weeks begins) (Jewish)

23—Birthday of Haile Selassie (Rastafari)

24—Pioneer Day (Mormon Christian)

AUGUST   2019

1—Lammas (Christian)

1—Lughnassadh / Imbolc (Wicca, Pagan)

1—Fast in Honor of Holy Mother of Jesus (Orthodox Christian)

6—Transfiguration of the Lord (Orthodox Christian)

9—World Indigenous Peoples’ Day

9—Beginning of the Hajj (Islam)

Great wall of angular stones, Western Wall, with line of Jews in front, in prayer and conversation

Jews gather at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a remnant of the wall encircling the Second Temple. Tisha B’Av mourns the loss of the First and Second Temples. Photo courtesy of WIkipedia Commons

10—sundown, Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) (Jewish)

10—sundown, Waqf al Arafa (Islam)

10—sundown, Eid al-Adha (Islam)

15—Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)

15—Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Catholic Christian)

15—Dormition of the Theotokos (Orthodox Christian)

15—sundown, Tu B’Av (Jewish)

17—Birth anniversary of Marcus Garvey (Rastafari)

24—Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)

27—Paryushan Parva (Jain)

29—Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (Christian)

30—sundown, Hijri (New Year) (Islam)

SEPTEMBER  2019

Pink elephant statue close-up with bangles and jewels and paint

Lord Ganesha. Photo by Kaushal Jangid, courtesy of Flickr

1—Ecclesiastical year begins (Orthodox Christian)

2—Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu)

2—Labor Day (U.S.)

3—Paryushan Parva (Jain)

8—Nativity of the Virgin Mary (Christian)

8—sundown, Ashura (Islam)

11—Patriot Day (U.S.)

11—Enkutatash (Ethiopian and Eritrean New Year) (Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Christian)

12—Anant Chaturdashi (Hindu)

14—Elevation of the Holy Cross (Orthodox Christian)

23—Equinox

23—Mabon / Ostara (Wicca, Pagan)

27—Meskel (Ethiopian Orthodox Christian)

29—Michael and All Angels (Michaelmas) (Christian)

29—Navaratri (Hindu)

29—sundown, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)

OCTOBER   2019

Old manuscript of Jewish prayer

The Kol Nidrei prayer of Yom Kippur. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

4—Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (Blessing of the Animals) (Christian)

8—Dasara/Dussera (Hindu)

8—sundown, Yom Kippur (Jewish)

13—sundown, Sukkot (Jewish)

14—Thanksgiving (Canada)

14—Columbus Day (US, observances vary)

20—Installation of the Scriptures as Guru Granth (Sikh)

20—sundown, Shemini Atzeret (Jewish)

21—sundown, Simchat Torah (Jewish)

27—Diwali (Sikh, Hindu, Jain)

28—New Year (Jain)

28—sundown, Birth of the Bab (Baha’i)

29—sundown, Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

31—Reformation Day (Protestant Christian)

31—All Hallows Eve

NOVEMBER   2019

Turkey float going down street in parade

A turkey float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo by martha_chapa95, courtesy of Flickr

1—All Saints Day (Christian)

1—Samhain/Beltane (Wicca, Pagan)

2—All Souls Day (Christian)

3—Daylight Savings Time ends

9—Kristallnacht anniversary

9—sundown, Mawlid an-Nabi (Islam)

11—Veterans Day (U.S.)

15—Nativity Fast begins, although some church calendars begin the fast on November 28 (Orthodox Christian)

23—Thanksgiving (U.S.)

24—Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (Sikh)

24—Feast of Christ the King (Christian)

25—sundown, Day of the Covenant (Baha’i)

27—sundown, Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha (Baha’i)

28—Thanksgiving (U.S.)

DECEMBER   2019

Cookie in shape of bishop St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas cookies are popular across Europe. Photo by Turku Gingerbread, courtesy of Flickr

1—Advent begins (Christian)

6—Saint Nicholas Day (Christian)

8—Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) (Buddhist)

8—Immaculate Conception of Mary (Catholic Christian) (Note: In 2019, December 8 is the Second Sunday of Advent; therefore, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is transferred to Monday, December 9. The obligation to attend Mass, however, does not transfer.)

12—Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Catholic Christian)

13—St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (Christian)

16—Posadas Navidenas begins (Hispanic Christian)

21—Solstice

21—Yule/Litha (Wicca, Pagan)

22—sundown, Hanukkah begins (Jewish)

24—Christmas Eve (Christian)

25—Christmas (Christian)

25—Feast of the Nativity (Orthodox Christian)

Plate of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cooked collard and other fried foods in dimly lit room

Soul food is common at the Kwanzaa table. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

26—Feast of Saint Stephen (Christian)

26—Kwanzaa begins

26—Zarathost Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathushtra) (Zoroastrian)

28—Feast of the Holy Innocents (Childermas) (Christian)

29—Feast of the Holy Family (Catholic Christian)

31—Watch Night (Christian)

31—New Year’s Eve

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NOTE TO READERS

We continue to update this list, month by month. As you read the list, you may discover we have missed a fascinating observance or detail. If so, please email us at ReadTheSpirit@gmail.com.

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Categories: AnniversaryBaha'iBuddhistChristianFaiths of East AsiaFaiths of IndiaInterfaithInternational ObservancesJewishMormonMuslimNational ObservancesRastafari