Holidays Calendar

This calendar shows vocabulary for many of the more popular holidays and events worldwide. Note that some events do not always fall on exactly the same date each year so you may need to check further for the year in question.

date holiday or event notes
January 1 New Year's Day On New Year's Day people make resolutions, such as quitting smoking or starting a new diet. See also New Year's Eve (December 31).
Second Monday of January Coming of Age Day (Japan) This event celebrates all of the citizens who are 20 years old. In Japan, 20 is the age when adolescents officially become adults and can legally smoke, drink, and vote. The young people gather in formal wear at government buildings and listen to many important speakers. They also receive money.
Begins January or early February Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year This is a two week festival beginning on the first day of the lunar year. Just prior to the holiday, families clean their houses carefully in order to bring good luck into their homes. Families gather for a reunion dinner on New Year's Eve. Lucky amounts of money are distributed to family members in red envelopes. Each day honours something different, such as parents, gods, or wealth.
February 14 Valentine's Day Couples celebrate their love by exchanging cards, chocolate, flowers, and other gifts. Many go on romantic dates. Children give Valentine's cards to friends and relatives.
Saturday before Ash Wednesday (7 weeks before Easter), Mardis Gras (last day of Carnival) Carnival and Mardis Gras A two-week festival before the Christian period of Lent, celebrated annually in many parts of the world, especially Rio de Janeiro. The festivities include colourful street parties, parades, and dancing. New Orleans is famous for its Mardis Gras parties.
March 17 St. Patrick's Day Traditionally an Irish celebration. People with Irish roots (or not) worldwide wear green and drink Irish beer and eat Irish food on this day. Parties and parades feature Irish music and dancing.
March 20, 21 or 22 Norooz Iranian New Year. (There are various other spellings such as Norouz, Narooz, Nawruz, Newroz, Newruz, Nauruz, Nawroz etc.)
March/April (15th day of Hebrew month Nisan) Passover 7-day Jewish holiday marking the birth of a free Jewish nation. As told in the Book of Exodus, the Children of Israel were freed from Pharaoh and began to follow God. Many Jews avoid eating or having bread products in the home during this time. This is symbolic of the Jews leaving Egypt so quickly that their bread did not have time to rise.
Late March or early April Good Friday, Easter Christian holiday honouring the crucifixion of Jesus (Good Friday) and celebrating the resurrection (Easter Sunday). Also a commercial holiday in which children search for chocolate and gifts left by the Easter Bunny.
April 1 April Fool's Day Friends, relatives, and co-workers play tricks and practical jokes on each other. Media outlets sometimes publish or broadcast elaborate April Fool's Day hoaxes. One of the most famous was the BBC's Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax.
Watch Swiss Spaghetti Harvest video
UN To Ban "Unnecessary" Languages
April 13-15 Songkran Traditional water festival in Thailand to mark the Thai New Year and the end of the dry season. It coincides with the hottest time of the year and with several similar festivals in South and South-East Asia.
May 5 Cinco de Mayo (Mexico, USA) Observed in parts of Mexico and the USA, an annual celebration of Mexico's victory over France in the Battle of Puebla. The battle became a symbol of Mexican unity. Festivities include parades, parties, and dancing with Mexican food and mariachi music.
June 23-24 Midsummer's Eve and Day, (primarily Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia) Often considered the beginning of summer holidays. Celebrated with lakeside bonfires, parties, and dancing around a maypole.
July 1 Canada Day Canadians honour their country and celebrate independence with fireworks, parades, and parties. Most people wear red and sport the maple leaf emblem.
July 4 Independence Day (USA) A federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. Also called the Fourth of July. Americans celebrate by spending the day at the pool, river, beach; grilling with friends and family; and lastly with fireworks. This is one of their most important national holidays.
July 6-14 Fiestas of San Fermin: Running of the Bulls (Spain) Annual 9-day festival in Pamplona, Spain, which is famous for the running of the bulls. The event has prompted worldwide attention since being mentioned in Hemmingway's novel, The Sun Also Rises.
July or August, depending on lunar calendar Raksha Bandan (India) Hindu celebration among brothers and sisters. Sisters tie a special bracelet around their brothers wrists to demonstrate love and honour. Brothers offer gifts to sisters and promise to protect and care for them.
August 9 Women's Day (South Africa) National holiday acknowledging August 9, 1956 when 20,000 women marched to the government buildings in Pretoria to protest the law that required black women to carry passes.
Mid September-Mid October (10th day of Hebrew month Tishrei) Yom Kippur Annual Jewish holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. Jewish people fast for 25 hours, and refrain from working. They spend much of the day in prayer. Many Jews wear white on this day to symbolize the freedom they acquire as their sins against God are forgiven. Leather shoes are forbidden.
Falls between Mid-September and Mid October Mid Autumn Festival, a.k.a Moon Festival (China) Families unite to watch the full moon rise and to eat moon cakes. Couples enjoy evening romance under the light of the full moon.
Two weeks between late September and early October Oktoberfest (Germany) The world's largest fair. The mayor of Munich taps a keg of beer to start the festival each year. Beer and traditional German food is served. Party goers enjoy traditional music and dancing.
October 31 Halloween Children carve pumpkins and decorate homes with spooky scenes. After dark they dress up in costumes and go door to door collecting candy from neighbours. Adults have costume parties.
November 1 All Saint's Day (Day of the Dead) Originally celebrated the death of martyrs and saints. Today All Saint's Day is often the day families honour deceased relatives by bringing flowers and other offerings to graves.
November 5 Guy Fawkes Night (UK), a.k.a Bonfire Night Commemorates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605; an attempt by Guy Fawkes and other conspirators to blow up the parliament houses in Westminister. The celebration includes fireworks and bonfires. A dummy of Guy Fawkes is typically burnt.
Fourth Thursday of November (US), Second Monday of October (Canada) Thanksgiving Day Marks the end of harvest. This is a time to give thanks for food, and is celebrated by large feasts (especially turkey, pumpkin pie, and fall vegetables) and family get togethers. Other countries such as Korea (Chusok in mid August) celebrate the harvest at other times of the year.
December 25 Christmas Day Traditionally a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Now also a commercial holiday with card and gift exchanges throughout December. Children wait for Santa Claus to bring gifts. Houses, businesses and streets are decorated with trees, lights and other Christmas symbols. People sing Christmas carols.
December 31 New Year's Eve Citizens gather in urban centres or friends' homes on the last evening of the year to count down to midnight together. New Year's Eve parties often include dancing, listening to rock bands and watching fireworks after the clock strikes twelve. See also New Year's Day (January 1).
  Ramadan Muslims observe Ramadan as a month of fasting. While fasting, Muslims do not eat or drink during the hours of daylight. Ramadan is always the 9th month of the Islamic lunar year, which does not coincide with the Gregorian calendar above (in fact it falls about 11 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar).
Hajj This is the Muslim pilgrimage (special journey) to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. All Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage at least once during their lifetime. Also called Haj or Hadj. Originally from the Arabic "al-hajj", meaning "The Great Pilgrimage". It takes place during the 12th month of the Islamic lunar year, which does not coincide with the Gregorian calendar above (in fact it falls about 11 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar).