Programming Guidelines

Guidelines for Programming: 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 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.

Christian Holidays, General or Interfaith Questions

Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell,
Spiritual and Religious Life Office (814-332-2800)

Jewish Holidays

Adrienne Krone, Director of Jewish Life,

Islamic Holidays

Professor Younus Mirza,
Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell,

Christian and Catholic Holidays

Fr. Jeff Lucas,

Religious Calendar for 2018-2019

Please note: Jewish holidays begin on sundown of the first day listed.
Islamic holidays may vary a day or two; dates will be finalized shortly before the holidays occur.

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.
Aug. 21-24 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice; Islamic three-day celebration at the end of the hajj)
Sep. 9-11 Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
Sep. 18-19 Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement)
Dec. 25 Christmas (Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus)
Apr. 19-20 First two days of Passover (Jewish week-long observance of the Exodus from Egypt begins)
Apr. 21 Easter (Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection)
May 5-Jun. 4 Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting; most Muslims will continue daily activity, but suggested accommodations based on dietary restrictions are below)
Jun. 4-5 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,
12:15-1:00 pm
Dec. 8 Immaculate Conception (Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics) Required Mass,
12:15-1:00 pm
Mar. 6 Ash Wednesday (Christian first day of Lent) Campus service,
4:30-5:30 pm
Apr. 16 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. 18-19 Yom Kippur: Jews fast from sundown Sep. 18 until sundown Sep. 19 Mar. 2-20 Month of Fasting: Baha’is do not eat or drink between sunup and sundown Mar. 6-Apr. 21 Lent: Christians may fast from meat on Fridays or engage in other forms of fasting  Apr. 19-27 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.) May 5-Jun. 4 Ramadan: Muslims fast daily from food and drink from sunrise until sunset

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 South Asian Club may host celebrations of Hindu holy days.
  • Earth Spiritualities may hold rituals on or around Pagan festivals
Jul. 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)
Sep. 3 Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu festival celebrating birth of Krishna)
Sep. 20 Ashura (Shi‘ite holy day commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn b. ‘Ali)
Sep. 22 Harvest, or Mabon (Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for fruits of the earth)
Sep. 23-30 Sukkot (Jewish week-long Festival of Booths)
Hillel builds and decorates outdoor booth, or sukkah, and holds blessing and meals inside
Oct. 10-19 Navaratri (Hindu festival honoring the goddess Durga)
Oct. 19 Dussehra, or Dasara (Hindu celebration of victories by several gods and goddesses)
Oct. 20 Birth of the Bab (Herald of Baha’i faith)*
Nov. 1 Samhain (Pagan festival honoring those who have died)
Nov. 7 Diwali (Hindu Festival of Lights)
Nov. 20 Mawlid al-Nabi (Observance of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday)
Hanukkah (Jewish eight-day Festival of Lights)
Hillel lights wooden menorah near Chapel and holds Latke Fest Dec. 5
Dec. 2-24 Advent (Christian season of preparation for Christmas)
Candlelight Christmas Service in Ford Chapel, Dec. 10, at 7:30 pm
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)
Tu B’Shvat (Jewish Arbor Day)
Hillel holds Tu B’Shvat Seder Feb. 1
Feb. 2 Imbolc (Pagan celebration of the beginning of spring)
Feb. 10 Saraswati Puja, or Vasant Panchami (Hindu springtime festival)
Feb. 15 Nirvana Day (Buddhists mark death of Buddha’s physical body, achieving full Nirvana)
Mar. 4 Maha Shivratri (Hindu festival of the god Shiva)
Mar. 5 Shrove Tuesday (Day before season of Lent begins, a.k.a. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday)
Pancake Supper, 5 pm, in Schultz Banquet Hall
Mar. 20 Ostara (Pagan festival at the vernal equinox)
Mar. 20-21 Purim (Jewish Feast of Lots)
Hillel may hold Purim party or carnival
Mar. 20-21 Holi (Hindu Festival of Colors)
Mar. 21 Naw-Rúz (First day of Baha’i calendar)
Apr. 14 Palm Sunday (Christian observance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem)
Observed in Sunday Chapel Service at 11:00 am and at Catholic Mass Sunday at 6:30 pm, both in Ford Chapel
Apr. 18 Maundy Thursday (Christian observance of Jesus’ last supper)
Apr. 21-May 2 Festival of Ridvan (Baha’i commemoration of Baha’u’llah’s proclamation)**
Apr. 26 Holy Friday (Eastern Orthodox)
Apr. 28 Easter (Eastern Orthodox)
May 1-2 Yom Hashoah (Jewish day of Holocaust remembrance)
Hillel may hold vigil or other ritual 
May 2 Beltane (Pagan celebration related to May Day, fertility)
May 29 Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Anniversary of Baha’is founder’s death)*
Jun. 1 Laylat al-Qadr (Islamic night of prayer during Ramadam; date varies based on different legal opinions)
Jun. 8-10 Shavuot (Jewish commemoration of God’s gift of Torah at Sinai)
Jun. 9 Pentecost (Christian celebration of Holy Spirit and birth of the church)
June 21 Midsummer, or Litha (Pagan holiday around the summer solstice, the longest day)

*Baha’i observances on which work is suspended
**Work suspended on Apr. 21, Apr. 29, and May 2