I   INTRODUCTION The Qur’an The inscription on buildings of verses from the Qur’an symbolizes the living presence of the holy book in Islamic society. This tower with decorative Qur’anic inscriptions is in Delhi, India. Gillian Darley/Edifice/Corbis Islam, one of the three major world religions, along with Judaism and Christianity, that profess monotheism, or… Read More


  Buddha (563?-483?bc), Indian philosopher and the founder of Buddhism, born in Lumbinī, Nepal. He was the son of the head of the Sakya warrior caste, with the private name of Siddhartha; in later life he was known also as Sakyamuni (Sage of the Sakyas). The name Gautama Buddha is… Read More


Holiday, day set apart for religious observance or for the commemoration of some extraordinary event or distinguished person, or for some other public occasion. Holidays are characterized by a partial or total cessation of work and normal business activities and are generally accompanied by public and private ceremonies, including feasting… Read More

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew, “beginning of the year”), Jewish New Year, celebrated on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri (falling in September or October) by Orthodox and Conservative Jews and on the first day alone by Reform Jews. It begins the observance of the… Read More

Mardi Gras

I INTRODUCTION Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Carnival, annual festival marking the final day before the Christian fast of Lent, a 40-day period of self-denial and abstinence from merrymaking. Mardi Gras is the last opportunity for revelry and indulgence in food and drink before the temperance of… Read More

Kwanzaa and Juneteenth

Kwanzaa, (matunda ya kwanza, Swahili for “first fruits”), an African American holiday observed by African communities throughout the world that celebrates family, community, and culture. It is a seven-day holiday that begins December 26 and continues through January 1. Kwanzaa has its roots in the ancient African first-fruit harvest celebrations… Read More


I INTRODUCTION Hanukkah or Chanukah (Hebrew for “dedication”), annual festival of the Jewish people celebrated on eight successive days. It begins on the 25th day of Kislev, the third month of the Jewish calendar, corresponding, approximately, to December in the Gregorian calendar. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of… Read More

Labor Day

I INTRODUCTION Labor Day, legal holiday honoring workers, celebrated in the United States and Canada on the first Monday in September. The observance includes parades and speeches reviewing labor’s contributions to society. In most of Europe the first of May—May Day—is set aside as a day to honor workers. II… Read More

Saint Patrick’s Day

I INTRODUCTION Saint Patrick’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, holiday honoring Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is celebrated annually on March 17, his feast day. Saint Patrick was a missionary in the 5th century ad who is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity. St. Patrick’s Day is… Read More

Groundhog Day

I INTRODUCTION Groundhog Day, February 2 of each year when, according to tradition, the groundhog leaves the burrow where it has been hibernating to discover whether cold winter weather will continue. If the groundhog cannot see its shadow, it presumably remains above ground, ending its hibernation. But if its shadow… Read More