Programming Guidelines

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, Jewish, Hindu and other 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 religions, 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.

Religious Calendar for 2020-2021

*Holiday begins the evening of the first date listed and ends the evening of the last date listed.

Major Holy Days

  • Avoid scheduling campus-wide events such as Blue and Gold Weekend, Make a Difference Day, Wingfest, Springfest, major lectures, or other events that students would have to miss if they were observing a religious holiday.
  • Movies, late-night programming, and other event types that occur throughout the year may be scheduled, since students would be able to attend one at another time.
Jul. 31 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice; Islamic celebration at the end of the hajj)
Sep. 18-20* Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
Sep. 27-28* Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement)
Dec. 25 Christmas (Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus)
Mar. 27-28* First two days of Passover (Jewish week-long observance of the Exodus from Egypt begins)
Apr. 4 Easter (Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection)
Apr. 13-May 13 Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting; suggested accommodations based on dietary restrictions are below)
May 13 Eid al-Fitr (Islamic celebration at the end of Ramadan)

Religious Rituals

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

Nov. 1 All Saints Day (Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics) Required Mass,
6:30-7:30 pm
Dec. 8 Immaculate Conception (Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics) Required Mass,
12:15-1:00 pm
Feb. 17 Ash Wednesday (Christian first day of Lent) Campus service,
4:30-5:30 pm
Apr. 2 Good Friday (Christian observance of Jesus’ death and burial) Campus service,
12:15-1:00 pm

Dietary Accommodations

  • Jews do not eat pork and do not eat meat and dairy in the same meal. Muslims also refrain from pork, as well as alcohol, and some require meat that is halal. 
  • 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.
Sep. 27-28* Yom Kippur: Jews fast from sundown Sep. 27 until sundown Sep. 28
Feb. 17-Apr. 2 Lent: Christians may fast from meat on Fridays or engage in other forms of fasting
Mar. 1-19 Month of Fasting: Baha’is do not eat or drink between sunup and sundown
Mar. 27-Apr. 4* Passover: Jews eat no leavened bread and may observe other dietary restrictions (Note: Please include Kosher for Passover options at any catered events this week.)
Apr. 13-May 13 Ramadan: Muslims fast daily from food and drink from sunrise until sunset


Additional Holy Days

  • Members of our community may be celebrating these holidays as individuals or with other members of their religious group. 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.
  • Work is suspended on the Baha’i holidays marked with #.
Jul. 8-9*# Martyrdom of the Bab (Death of the herald of the Baha’i faith)
Aug. 1 Lughnassad, or Lammas (Pagan celebration of the beginning of harvest)
Aug. 11 Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna)
Aug. 21 Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu festival celebrating Ganesha’s birthday)
Aug. 27 Ashura (Shi‘ite holy day commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn b. ‘Ali)
Sep. 22 Harvest, or Mabon (Pagan ritual of thanksgiving)
Oct. 2-9* Sukkot (Jewish week-long Festival of Booths)
Hillel builds and decorates outdoor booth, or sukkah
Oct. 10-11* Simchat Torah (Jewish celebration of the Torah)
Oct. 17-26 Navaratri (Hindu nine-day autumn festival)
Oct. 17-18*# Birth of the Bab (Herald of Baha’i faith)
Oct. 18-19*# Birth of Baha’u’llah (Founder of Baha’i faith)
Oct. 25 Dussehra, or Dasara (Hindu celebration of victories by several gods and goddesses)
Oct. 29 Mawlid al-Nabi (Observance of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday)
Nov. 1 Samhain (Pagan festival honoring those who have died)
Nov. 14 Diwali (Hindu Festival of Lights)
Nov. 29 Guru Nanak Jayanti (Sikh observance of founder’s birthday)
Nov. 29-Dec. 24 Advent (Christian season of preparation for Christmas)
Dec. 10-18* Hanukkah (Jewish eight-day Festival of Lights)
Dec. 21 Yule, or Winter Solstice (Pagan observance of the winter solstice)
Dec. 26-Jan. 1 Kwanzaa (African American cultural festival)
Jan. 6 Epiphany (Christian celebration of Jesus’ manifestation to Gentiles)
Jan. 7 Christmas (Eastern Orthodox celebration of Jesus’ birth
Jan. 27-28* Tu B’Shvat (Jewish celebration of trees)
Feb. 2 Imbolc (Pagan celebration of the beginning of spring)
Feb. 15 Nirvana Day (Buddhists mark Buddha’s full achievement of Nirvana)
Feb. 16 Saraswati Puja, or Vasant Panchami (Hindu springtime festival)
Feb. 16 Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, celebration prior to Christian season of Lent)
Feb. 25-26* Purim (Jewish Feast of Lots)
Hillel may hold Purim party 
Mar. 11 Maha Shivratri (Hindu festival of the god Shiva)
Mar. 19-20*# Naw-Rúz (Baha’i New Year)
Mar. 20 Ostara (Pagan festival at the spring equinox)
Mar. 28 Holi (Hindu Festival of Colors)
South Asian Student Society may observe during SpringFest
Mar. 28 Palm Sunday (Christian observance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem)
Observed at Catholic Mass Sunday at 6:30 pm in Ford Chapel, and at area churches
Apr. 1 Maundy Thursday (Christian observance of Jesus’ last supper)
Apr. 7-8* Yom Hashoah (Jewish day of Holocaust remembrance)
Hillel may hold vigil or other ritual 
Apr. 19-May 1*# Festival of Ridvan (Baha’i founder Baha’u’llah proclaimed as God’s messenger)
Work suspended on day 1 (Apr. 19-20*), day 9 (Apr. 27-28*) and day 12 (Apr. 30-May 1*)
Apr. 30 Holy Friday (Eastern Orthodox)
May 1 Beltane (Pagan celebration related to May Day, fertility)
May 2 Easter (Eastern Orthodox celebration of Jesus’ resurrection)
May 9 Laylat al-Qadr (Islamic night of prayer during Ramadan)
May 16-18* Shavuot (Jewish commemoration of God’s gift of Torah at Sinai)
May 22-23*# Declaration of the Bab (Herald of Baha’i faith)
May 23 Pentecost (Christian celebration of Holy Spirit and birth of the church)
May 27-28*# Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Marks Baha’i founder’s death)
June 21 Midsummer, or Litha (Pagan holiday around the summer solstice, the longest day)

*Holiday begins the evening of the first date listed and ends the evening of the last date listed.