Calendar of Religious Holidays

August 2014


Lammas (Christianity)

In English-speaking countries, August 1 is Lammas Day (loaf-mass day), the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year. On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop. In many parts of England, tenants were bound to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords on or before the first day of August. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where it is referred to regularly, it is called "the feast of first fruits". The blessing of new fruits was performed annually in both the Eastern and Western Churches on the first, or the sixth, of August.


Fast in Honor of Holy Mother of Jesus (Orthodox Christianity)

This day begins a fourteen-day fasting period before the great Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. This time celebrates Mary as the Holy Mother.


Lughnassad (Neo-Paganism - Northern Hemisphere)

Lughnassad celebrates the beginning of the harvest season. In Celtic tradition, this feast was begun by the god Lugh as a funeral commemorating his foster mother, Tailtiu. The story holds that Tailtiu died of exhaustion after clearing land in Ireland for agriculture. Lughnassad is associated with gatherings, market festivals, and feasts.


Tisha B'Av (Judaism)

Tisha B'Av is a fast day that solemnizes the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, which occurred on the same day roughly 650 years apart. This day is often recognized as the day of mourning, not just for the loss of the temples, but for other tragic events in Jewish history.


Transfiguration of the Lord (Orthodox Christianity)

The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported by the Synoptic Gospels in which Jesus was transfigured upon a mountain (Matthew 17:1-6, Mark 9:1-8, Luke 9:28-36). Jesus becomes radiant, speaks with Moses and Elijah, and is called "Son" by God. The transfiguration put Jesus on par with the two preeminent figures of Judaism: Moses and Elijah. It also supports his identity as the Son of God. In keeping with the Messianic secret, Jesus tells the witnesses not to tell others what they saw. In general, the events in Jesus' life that are said to have taken place in secret, such as the transfiguration, are given less weight by scholars of the historical Jesus than public events. The original Greek term in the Gospels is metamorphothe, describing Jesus as having undergone metamorphosis.


Raksha Bandhan (Hinduism)

This Hindu festival celebrates the relationships between brothers and sisters, but extends beyond blood-relations to incorporate "adopted" brothers and sisters: good friends and distant relatives. Sisters give brothers rakhis, a holy thread tied around their wrist, in exchange for gifts and protection. Rakhis are also exchanged to show solidarity and kinship.



Ullambana / Ghost Festival (Buddhism)

The Ghost Festival is the height of the Ghost Month (July 31st - August 28th), the seventh month in the traditional Chinese calendar. During this time, the spirits are allowed to return and roam the earth. The first day of the Ghost Month is celebrated with offerings to ancestors and to ghosts without families, so they will not bring you harm. These offerings include food and ghost money: money burned so that the spirits can use it. Ullambana is the day when the spirits are said to be most  active. Feasts and ceremonies are often performed to help ease their suffering.


Assumption of Blessed Mary  (Catholic Christianity)

According to Roman Catholic doctrine and the traditions of the Catholic Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary, the mother of Jesus) "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." This means that Mary was transported into Heaven with her body and soul united. The feast day recognizing Mary's passage into Heaven is celebrated as The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Roman Catholics.


Dormition of the Theotokos (Catholic Christianity)

The sacred Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos marks the Virgin Mary’s repose, which was followed by the translation of her sacred body three days later into heaven. This feast, therefore, marks her soul being commended into her Son's hands and the short sojourn of her body in the tomb. Unlike the Resurrection of Christ, the mysterious character of her death, burial, resurrection and ascension were not the subject of apostolic teachings, yet they were recorded by the tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church and writings of the Church Fathers.


Krishna Janmashtami (Hinduism)

This day celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar, or incarnation, of Vishnu. Upon his birth, his life was threatened by his uncle, King Kansa, who believed that Krishna was fated to kill him. Kansa ordered that Krishna be brought to him, but the baby was miraculously carried away to a safe hiding place. Hindus celebrate this day with a large feast. Sweets are given to children, and a clay statue of Krishna is worshipped in every house.


Ganesha Chaturthi (Hinduism)

This day is celebrated as the birthday of Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati. Known as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and success, it is believed that Ganesha bestows his presence on earth during this time. In some traditions, clay figures of Ganesha are made and worshiped for a period of two to ten days, then are thrown into the river as ritual departure back to Kailash, the sacred mountain on which he lives.


Beheading of John the Baptist (Christianity)

This day commemorates the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, a mission preacher and religious figure. Jesus was among the many people that John baptized in the Jordan River. He was imprisoned by Herrod Antipas, because he publicly disapproved of Herrod's divorce and unlawful remarriage. Herrod feared that John would lead a revolt, thus had him executed.


Paryushana (Jainism)

Paryushana is a word that means "to stay in one place." Originally, this was a monastic practice, drawing from the tradition of monks staying in one place during the rainy season. Now, all use this time to slow down, fast, reflect and repent.