Members of the University of Michigan community support and celebrate a multitude of cultural, religious and heritage observances throughout the year. By embracing the vast array of beliefs and identities of those on campus, this calendar strives to be a comprehensive representation of the U-M community, while also acknowledging it will evolve over time. In recognizing these events, we invite the community on a continued journey of learning more about the traditions, beliefs, histories and experiences of their friends, colleagues and educators.
If there is something you feel should be included on this list, please help us continue learning by sending a note here.
The New Year has been celebrated by communities and civilizations for thousands of years and marks the transition from one calendar year to the next. In many countries, people celebrate with fireworks, meals, and resolutions for the new year to bring joy and prosperity.
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential Civil Rights leaders in U.S. history. He advocated for nonviolent activism and equality for African American people. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, becoming the youngest man to be a recipient of this award. On this day, we honor his commitment to racial equality and justice in the United States.
Today we commemorate the signing of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom (1786), hailing freedom of religion in the United States.
Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Jews from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. During the Holocaust, six million Jews lost their lives due to the Nazi regime, in addition to millions of other persecuted individuals. We commemorate and remember the lives that were lost and encourage continued education of this tragedy.
Spanning the month of February, Black History Month is a time of celebration and education of Black people in the United States. Originating in 1915 from historians Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Morland, February was chosen in alignment with Frederick Douglass’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. Countless Black artists, activists, and more are showcased during this time as a reminder of their contributions to culture and society.
Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the Lunar calendar celebrated among East and Southeast Asian communities. Marked by the first new moon in the lunar calendar, many people celebrate with feasts, honoring their household and traditions symbolizing community and prosperity.
Women’s History Month celebrates the pivotal roles of women in American culture, history, and society. First celebrated in 1981 as a week honoring women’s contributions, it became a month-long celebration in March of 1987. During March, countless resources related to gender equality, feminism, and advocating for women’s rights are shared for all educational levels.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and marks a period of fasting. During this holy period, Muslims refrain from food and other behaviors between dawn and dusk and break their fast after sunset.
Persian New Year, or Nowruz, originates from the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism, but is celebrated by Iranians worldwide. It occurs annually on the spring equinox and the celebration includes a traditionally set haft-sin table, visiting family and friends, and a deep clean of the home. Activities last 13 days and symbolize revival and renewal for the new year.
Holi is an Indian festival which lasts a full day and night, beginning on Purnima (Full Moon Day) during the month Phalguna. Known for showcasing bright and vibrant colors, the holiday is also known as the Festival of Colors. Celebrants first gather around a bonfire to pray for the superiority of good over evil, and later fill streets with color.
Transgender Day of Visibility marks the celebration of transgender and non-binary people around the world. To this day, transgender and non-binary folk face heightened dangers to verbal and violent attacks, highlighting the continued need for education on gender and sexuality.
Easter is a Christian holiday marking the resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible. This day is the conclusion of Lent, a 40-day period where people practice fasting, reflection and sacrifice.
The month of April marks the recognition of Arab American culture and contributions. Origins of Arab American Heritage Month began in 2017, becoming nationally recognized by Congress and the U.S. Department of State in 2021. Around 3 million American people have cultural or ethnic ties to Arab countries.
Over 75,000,000 people worldwide have an autism spectrum disorder. World Autism Month increases awareness about people with autism and resources to support individuals.
World Autism Awareness Day occurs during the wider World Autism Month. Organizations such as Autism Speaks share stories of the diverse backgrounds and identities of people on the Autism spectrum and ways to participate online or in your community with related events.
Translated to “The Festival of Breaking the Fast,” Eid al-Fitr is a major Muslim holiday and marks the end of Ramadan. During this one to three day period, Muslims break their fasts and celebrate with prayer, gifts, gatherings and communal meals.
Passover is a sacred Jewish holiday lasting a week in commemoration of Israelite freedom from enslavement in Ancient Egypt. During this period of celebration, Jewish people practice rituals and traditions including the Passover seder meal, and abstain from eating bread and other leavened foods.
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebrates the many contributions and cultures of AAPI individuals in the United States. The month of May signifies the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. on May 7, 1843, as well as the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869.
Beginning in 2006, May has been declared as Jewish American Heritage Month to honor and commemorate the contributions of Jewish people to American culture and society.
Orthodox Easter is the celebration of Easter by the Orthodox church, which follows the Julian calendar. It is preceded by “Holy Week,” which involves devout fasting and/or attending services for many observers. The date annually lands on the first full moon following Passover.
World Autism Day occurs during the wider World Autism Month. Organizations such as Autism Speaks share stories of the diverse backgrounds and identities of people on the Autism spectrum and ways to participate online or in your community with related events.
Pride Month occurs each June in the U.S. to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual and more folk. The month of June honors the Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 where a gay club (Stonewall Inn) was raided by New York City police and led to protests and the gay rights movement around the world.
Immigrant Heritage Month honors and empowers immigrants in the United States to share their experiences and heritage that shape the diversity of the country.
Juneteenth is an African American holiday to remember the day federal troops came to Gavelston, Texas in 1865 and declared formerly enslaved people to be free. Short for “June Nineteenth”, the troops arrived two and a half years after the signage of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
World Refugee Day was created by the United Nations to celebrate refugees internationally. Over 27 million people were refugees by the end of 2021, having been forced to flee their home due to conflict or persecution.
Eid al-Adah is a Muslim holiday translating to the “Feast of Sacrifice” and signifies the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail. People often celebrate this holiday by sacrificing an animal that is divided into three parts to be shared among family, friends, and those in need.
This commemorative month appreciates the contributions of people with disabilities and aims to instill pride in individuals. July symbolizes the month in which the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990.
July 4th symbolizes American independence from Great Britain. The date marks the official day the Continental Congress accepted the Declaration of Independence.
For non-binary individuals—those who identify as neither male nor female or identify as both—International Non-Binary People’s Day celebrates those who are not defined by their gender identity.
Passed in 1973, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the cultures, heritage and contributions of American people with ancestral ties to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico and Spain. September 15-18 signifies the anniversary of independence in Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.
Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day acknowledges the impacts and contributions of American workers. It has been a federal holiday since 1894.
Disability Community Month aims to call attention to the privileges and benefits in an ableist society. The University of Michigan sponsors events during the month of October to showcase people’s experiences with disability.
LGBTQ History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of notable lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year holiday and begins on the first day of the seventh month, Tishrei. This day symbolizes Earth’s creation and the 10 Days of Awe, a period for introspection and repentance.
National Coming Out Day supports LGBTQ+ people in being open and out with their sexuality. The day was first recognized on October 11, 1988 on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
For Indigenous People’s Day, the culture, contributions, work and sovereignty of American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Natives Hawaiins in the United States are recognized.
Falling in the month of Tishrei (September or October in the Gregorian calendar), Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar. It marks the culmination of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is the day of atonement when many Jews fast to repent from their sins from the prior year.
Sukkot is a week-long Jewish holiday following Yom Kippur in the fall. It celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the protection God provided for the people of Israel when they left Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are typically eaten in a sukkah—a temporary hut built for the holiday.
Native American Heritage Month is celebrated during November to honor and celebrate the many Indigenous cultures in North America. It is a time to reflect on the histories and bring awareness to Native American cultural and land sovereignty.
Diwali is a holiday celebrated in India lasting five days. Meaning the “festival of lights,” it marks the victory of good over evil with people gathering with one another for prayer and to exchange gifts.
Día de Muertos translates to ‘Day of the Dead’ and is a Mexican holiday honoring deceased relatives. Traditional celebration began over 3,000 years ago and is continued largely in Mexico and the United States. Living family members often create altars with the favorite foods and items of the deceased.
Beginning in 1919 as Armistice Day, Veterans Day honors discharged people that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. After World War I, which was known as “The Great War” or “The war to end all wars,” Veterans Day was established to celebrate all U.S. military service.
Transgender Awareness Week occurs in the week prior to the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, and is a week when transgender people and allies educate, share stories and experiences, and advocate around issues of prejudice, discrimination and violence affecting the transgender community.
Transgender Day of Remembrance occurs annually on November 20th, honoring the memory of transgender individuals whose lives were lost due to anti-transgender violence throughout the year.
In the U.S., Thanksgiving is a holiday to commemorate the shared harvest meal between Plymouth colonists and native Wampanoag people in the 17th century. The day became a national holiday in 1863 during the Civil War when it was declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln, and occurs on the fourth Thursday in November.
One billion people around the world have a disability yet are often excluded in society. International Day of Persons with Disabilities is recognized by the United Nations and other organizations to justly advocate and recognize the rights of people with disabilities.
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the uprising of Jewish people against Greek/Syrian rule in the Maccabean Revolt. Translating to ‘dedication,’ Hanukkah is often celebrated with the lighting of candles in a menorah and exchanging gifts.
Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus who is a spiritual leader in the faith. Also a secular tradition, many people celebrate the holiday with the decoration of Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, and communal meals.
Kwanzaa is an African American holiday beginning in 1966 by professor and chair of Black Studies at California State University, Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga combined traditional practices of several African cultures including the Ashanti and Zulu people. Celebrations include lighting of the Kinara for seven nights, song, dance, and a large meal.