Programming Guidelines

Guidelines for Accommodating Religious Observance

As part of its commitment to diversity, Allegheny College encourages the expression of diverse religious traditions, which creates challenges, since our common calendar developed around Christianity. Islamic and Jewish holidays follow different calendars, so they do not fall on the same day each year, or even the same day of the week, like Easter Sunday or Ash Wednesday do, but may be on Thursday one year and Saturday the next.

We believe these complexities are worth confronting in order to create the inclusive, respectful and safe residential learning community that our Statement of Community advocates. Rather than stripping our public life of religious expression, Allegheny is committed to supporting individuals who practice diverse faiths, even when that gets complicated.

This guide should help you know how to schedule around religious holidays in a way that is respectful and sensitive. If you have questions, please contact any of the following for advice or guidance.

Christian Holidays, General or Interfaith Questions
Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell,
Spiritual and Religious Life Office (814-332-2800)

Jewish Holidays
Rabbi Ron Bernstein-Goff,

Islamic Holidays
Professor Younus Mirza,
Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell,

Christian and Catholic Holidays
Fr. Jeff Lucas,

Religious Calendar for 2015-2016

Please note: Jewish holidays begin on sundown of the first day listed.

Major Holy Days

▪ Avoid scheduling campus-wide events such as Homecoming, Family Weekend, Make a Difference Day, Wingfest, Springfest, or other events that students would have to miss if they were observing a religious holiday.

▪ Lectures, movies, late-night programming, and other event types that are scheduled throughout the year may be scheduled, since students would be able to attend one at another time.

Jun. 18-Jul. 17 Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting; most Muslims will continue daily activity, but suggested accommodations based on dietary restrictions are listed below)
Jul. 17-19 Eid al-Fitr (Islamic three-day celebration at the end of Ramadan)
Sep. 13-15 Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
Sep. 22-23 Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement)
Sep. 23-25 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice; Islamic three-day celebration at the end of the hajj)
Oct. 23  Ashura (Shi‘ite holy day commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn b. ‘Ali)
Dec. 25 Christmas (Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus)
Mar. 27 Easter (Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection)
Note: Eastern Orthodox Easter falls on May 1.
 Apr. 22-23  First two days of Passover (Jewish week-long observance of the Exodus from Egypt begins)


Religious Rituals

There will be on-campus services at these times, so try to avoid scheduling events that would conflict with these.

  • Sunday Chapel Service at 11:00 am or other local church service
  • Catholic Mass, Sunday at 6:30 pm
  • Jewish Shabbat, Friday at 5:00 pm
  • Muslim prayers, Friday at 1:00 pm (Note that Muslim students who pray five times each day may need to be excused for a few minutes to pray at other times.)
Nov. 1 All Saints Day (Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics)
Required Mass, 12:15-1:00 pm
Dec. 8 Immaculate Conception (Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics)
Required Mass, 12:15-1:00 pm
Feb. 10 Ash Wednesday (Christian first day of Lent)
Campus service, 4:30-5:30 pm
Mar. 24 Maundy Thursday (Christian observance of Jesus’ last supper)  Campus Service that evening
Mar. 25 Good Friday (Christian observance of Jesus’ death and burial)
Campus service, 12:15-1:00 pm
Week of Apr. 22 Passover Seder (TBA, often scheduled after first two days)
Campus Dinner, 5-7:30 pm


Dietary Accommodations

The following holy days involve dietary restrictions that will affect events at which food is served. Parkhurst is familiar with these requirements and can help you make appropriate accommodations.

Jun. 18-Jul. 17 Ramadan
Muslims fast daily from food and drink from before sunrise until after sunset
Sep. 22-23 Yom Kippur
Jews fast from sundown Sep 22, until sundown Sep 23
Feb. 10-Mar. 26 Lent
Christians may fast from meat on Fridays or engage in other forms of fasting
Mar. 2-20 Month of Fasting:  Baha’is do not eat or drink between sunup and sundown
Apr. 22-29 Passover
Jews eat no leavened bread and some observe other dietary restrictions


Additional Holy Days

Members of our community may be celebrating these holidays. Specific campus services and customs are noted.  In addition to minor holidays in religions that are well-represented on campus, we have also included major ritual days in under-represented religions.  Please note that these holidays are as important for those involved as Yom Kippur is for Jews or Easter is for Christians.  While we do not ask that campus-wide events be avoided, it is important to see if anyone involved in an event you’re planning on that day would be affected.

General notes:

  • Work is suspended on the Baha’i holidays listed below.
  • Society of Buddhist and Hindu Students (SBHS) and/or other groups may host events on the Hindu holy days.
  • Allegheny Community for Earth-Based Spirituality (ACES) may hold rituals on or around Pagan festivals. 
May 23-25 Shavuot (Jewish commemoration of giving of Torah on Sinai)
Jun. 21 Midsummer, or Litha (Pagan holiday around the summer solstice, the longest day)
Jul. 9 Martyrdom of the Bab (Death of the herald of Baha’i faith)*
Jul. 9  Laylat al-Qadr (Islamic night of prayer during Ramadan; date varies based on different legal opinions)
Aug. 1  Lughnassad, or Lammas (Pagan celebration of the beginning of harvest)
Sep. 4 Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu festival celebrating birth of Krishna)
Sep. 22 Harvest, or Madon (Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for fruits of the earth)
Sep. 27-Oct. 4 Sukkot (Jewish week-long Festival of Booths)
Hillel builds and decorates an outdoor booth, or sukkah
Oct. 13-22 Navaratri (Hindu festival honoring the goddess Durga)
Oct. 20 Birth of the Bab (Herald of Baha’i faith)*Birth of the Bab (Herald of Baha’i faith)*
Oct. 22 Dussehra, or Dasara (Hindu celebration of victories by several gods and goddesses)
Oct. 23 Ashura (Shi’ite holy day commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn b. ‘Ali)
Nov. 1 Samhain (Pagan festival honoring those who have died)
Nov. 11 Diwali (Hindu Festival of Lights)
Society of Buddhist and Hindu Students and/or other groups may host events
Nov. 12 Birth of Baha’u’llah (Founder of the Baha’i faith)*
Nov. 29-Dec. 24 Advent (Christian season of preparation for the birth of Jesus;
begins four Sundays prior to Christmas)
Traditional Christmas Service in Ford Chapel, Dec 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Dec. 6-14 Hanukkah (Jewish eight-day Festival of Lights)
Hillel lights menorah near Chapel and holds Hanukkah party in Schultz Banquet Hall, Dec 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Dec. 21 Yule, or Winter Solstice (Pagan observance of the winter solstice)
Dec. 23  Mawlid al-Nabi (Observance of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday)
Jan. 24-25 Tu B’Shvat (Jewish Arbor Day)
Hillel and/or Interfaith Fellowship may hold Tu B’Shvat Seder
Feb. 2 Imbolc, or St. Brighid’s Day (Pagan celebration of the beginning of spring)
Feb. 9 Shrove Tuesday (Day before season of Lent begins, a.k.a. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday)
Pancake Supper, 5-6 pm, in Campus Center Lobby
Mar. 23-24 Purim (Jewish Feast of Lots)
Hillel may hold Purim party or carnival
Mar. 23 Holi (Hindu Festival of Colors)
Mar. 20 Ostara (Pagan festival at the vernal equinox)
Mar. 20 Palm Sunday (Christian observance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem)
 No worship services on Campus this year because of Spring Break
Mar. 21 Naw-Ruz (Baha’i Month of Fasting ends)*
Apr. 15-16 Yom Hashoah (Jewish day of Holocaust remembrance)
Hillel may hold observance or travel to service at Jewish Community Center in Erie
Apr. 21-May 2 Festival of Ridvan (Baha’i commemoration of Baha’u’llah’s proclamation)**
May 2 Beltane (Pagan celebration related to May Day, fertility)
May 4-5 Yom Hashoah (Jewish day of Holocaust remembrance)
Hillel may hold local service or travel to service at Jewish Community Center in Erie
May 29 Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Anniversary of Baha’is founder’s death)*
*Baha’i observances on which work is suspended
**Work suspended on Apr. 21, Apr. 29, and May 2