Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Special Days of Commemoration in Montgomery County

In recognition of Montgomery County’s religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity and in respect for the diversity of the County workforce, the County Council passed and the County Executive signed Bill No. 1-06: Special Days of Commemoration. The law was amended by Bill 3-12 enacted in 2012. This notification of Days of Commemoration for 2013 is pursuant to this law at Chapter 33, Personnel and Human Resources, Section 33-4B of the Montgomery County Code.

More information regarding the complete list of designated days of commemoration is located on A link to the rules governing leave and alternate work schedules for religious observance for County employees is also available on the above-referenced website. It is our goal that this calendar of Days of Commemoration be complete and accurate.

If you find an error or omission, please contact Bruce Adams of the Office of Community Partnerships at:
The following designated Days of Commemoration are for all of 2013:

Three Kings Day                                                                                   January 6, 2013

Three Kings Days (also called Dia de los Reyes, Epiphany, Feast of Kings, Twelfth Day, Twelfthtide, Day of the Three Wise Men). This major festival of the Christian Church is observed in many parts of the world with gifts, feasting, last lighting of the Christmas lights and burning of Christmas greens. It is the Twelfth and last day of the Feast of the Nativity. It commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men (Kings of Magi) to
Bethlehem. It is one of the oldest Christian feasts, originating in the Eastern Church in the second century, and predates the Western feast of Christmas. It was adopted by the Western Church during the same period in which the Eastern Church accepted Christmas.

Orthodox Christmas Day                                                                       January 7, 2013
Eastern Orthodox Churches, which use the Julian Calendar to determine feast days, celebrate on January 7 by the Gregorian Calendar. 

Korean American Day                                                                           Jan 13, 2013

A number of U.S. states have declared January 13 as Korean American Day in order to recognize Korean Americans' impact and contributions.

Martin Luther King Day                                                                        January 21, 2013

The Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., often called Martin Luther King Day, is a United States holiday honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., black civil rights leader, minister, advocate of nonviolence and recipient of Nobel Peace Prize (1964). It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of Dr. King's birthday, January 15.  

Asian Lunar New Year                                                                          
February 10, 2013

Asian Lunar New Year is typically observed between January 21 and February 19; it is a public holiday in a number of countries and areas where a sizeable Asian population resides. It is the principal holiday in Asian calendars and falls on different dates on the Gregorian calendar every year on different days of the week. New Year season begins with the first new moon after the sun enters Aquarius and lasts for fifteen days. The first week is the most important and most often celebrated with visits to friends and family as well as greetings of good luck. The highlight of the season is the Dragon Parade which is thought to dispel evil spirits.

Ash Wednesday                                                                                    February 13, 2013

In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It occurs forty-six days before Easter, but Lent is nevertheless considered forty days long, because Sundays in this period are not counted among the days of Lent. It falls on different dates from year to year, according to the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10. Worshippers are blessed by a priest or minister with ashes placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross. Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting and repentance. 

Parinirvana - Nirvana Day                                                                     February 15, 2013

Mahayana Buddhist festival marking the anniversary of Buddha's death. Pure Land Buddhists call the festival "Nirvana Day". Parinirvana is celebrated by some Buddhists on February 8th.  Nirvana Day is the celebration of Buddha's death when he reached total Nirvana, at the age of 80.

Presidents’ Day                                                                                                February 18, 2013

Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Although President Lincoln's birthday, February 12, was never a federal holiday, approximately a dozen state governments including Maryland, have officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as Presidents' Day.

Purim                                                                                                   February 23 - 24, 2013

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of Persian Jews from the plot of Haman to exterminate them, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther. Purim is marked by a carnival atmosphere, with masquerades, farcical plays, and the giving of gifts, especially charitable gifts. In the synagogue, the chief observance is the reading of the Megillah (scroll) of Esther, but here, also, unusual levity prevails. For example, at every mention of Haman, the congregation rattles "gregers" (noisemakers) to drown out the sound of his name. Purim begins at sundown on February 23, 2013.

Norouz                                                                                                 March 20, 2013

"New Day" (originally "New Light") is the traditional celebration of the ancient Achaemenid Iranian New Year. Norouz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year. Norouz is celebrated and observed by Iranian peoples and has spread in many other parts of the world, including parts of Central Asia, South Asia, Northwestern China, the Crimea and some groups in the Balkans. It is marked by family visits and the exchange of gifts, as well as special feasts. It is also commemorated by setting tables with foods and special items beginning with the letter S; this is known as the Haft Sin. The 13th day of the New Year festival is called “Sizdah Bedar” and is spent out of doors at picnics and parks. The UN's General Assembly in 2010 recognized the International Day of Norouz, describing it a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.  

Passover                                                                                              March 25 – April 2, 2013

Passover is an eight-day Jewish holiday which is celebrated in the spring. It begins on the 15th day of Nisan (on the Hebrew calendar), which falls between March 15-April 30. Passover commemorates the Exodus and freedom of the Israelites from ancient Egypt.  Jews celebrate Passover in their homes at a ceremonial feast called the Seder. At the Seder, the story of the flight of the Israelites is read from a book called the Haggadah. Foods symbolizing the flight from Egypt are placed on the table. The most important symbol is unleavened (unraised) bread called matzo (also spelled matzah). According to the Bible, when the Israelites fled, they did not have time to let their bread rise. They made flat, unleavened bread instead. Therefore, Jews eat matzahs instead of leavened bread during Passover.  Passover begins at sunset on March 25, 2013.
Magha Puja                                                                                          March 27, 2013

Fourfold Assembly or Sangha Day. Marks the day Buddha addressed a meeting of 1250 arahants. 

Holy (Maundy) Thursday                                                                      March 28, 2013
Orthodox Holy Thursday                                                                      
March 28, 2013

In the Christian calendar, Holy Thursday or Great Thursday, called in 
England and in a few other English-speaking countries Maundy Thursday, is the feast or holy day on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. 

Good Friday                                                                                         March 29, 2013
Orthodox Holy 
Friday                                                                           May 3, 2013

Good Friday is a holy day celebrated by most Christians on the Friday before Easter or Pascha. It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary.

Easter                                                                                                              March 31, 2013
Orthodox Easter                                                                                               
May 5, 2013

Easter, also known as the Feast of the Resurrection, "the Sunday of the Resurrection", or "Resurrection Day", is the most important religious festival of the Christian liturgical year. The date of Easter, a moveable feast, is derived from the lunar calendar: the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon on or after March 21-always between March 22 and April 25. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, which occurred after his death by crucifixion in AD 27-33). In the Catholic Church, Easter is actually an eight-day feast called the Octave of Easter.

Festival of Ridvan                                                                                April 21, 2013

Festival of Ridvan - Meaning ("paradise") is a Baha'i celebration commemorating the 12-day period in 1863 that Baha'u'llah (Baha'i founder) spent in the Garden of Ridvan, just outside Bagdad. During this period, Baha'u'llah began his prophethood and became God's messenger for this age. Baha'u'llah was in the Garden of Ridvan from April 21 to May 2, 1863, and this period is considered the most holy festival of the Baha'i faith and is called "Most Great Festival." The Festival of Ridvan is observed according to the Baha'i calendar and begins on April 21 and continues through May 2 each year. 

Theravada New Year                                                                             April 25 - 28, 2013

New Year festival for Theravada Buddhists, celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April.
Ascension Thursday (Western)                                                             May 9, 2013
Ascension Thursday (Orthodox)                                                            
June 13, 2013

Religious observance by many Christians, affirming the ascension of Jesus, celebrated on the Thursday in the sixth week following Easter Sunday.

Shavuot                                                                                               May 14 - 16, 2013 

Shavuot is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah (the law) to Moses on Mount Sinai. The holiday is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. Shavuot begins at sundown on May 14, 2013.

Wesak or Buddha Day                                                                          May 25, 2013

The most important of the Buddhist festivals. It celebrates the Buddha's birthday, and, for some Buddhists, also marks his enlightenment and death.

Memorial Day                                                                                                    May 27, 2013

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. 
June 19, 2013

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the State ofTexas on June 19, 1865.

Dharma Day                                                                                         July 22, 2013

The anniversary of the start of Buddha's teaching - his first sermon, "The Wheel of Truth" - after his enlightenment.

Independence Day                                                                                                        July 4, 2013

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.

Ramadan: The Islamic Month of Fasting                                              July 9, 2013

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is holy because it was during this month that the Holy Quran (Koran) was revealed. Adults fast from dawn until sunset to achieve spiritual and physical purification and self-discipline, abstaining from food, drink and intimate relations. It is a time for feeling a common bond with the poor and needy, and is a time of piety and prayer. It begins on the Islamic lunar calendar date Ramadan 1, 1429. Begins at sunset the preceding day.
Eid ul-Fitr                                                                                             August 8 - 11, 2013

Eid ul-Fitr, or abbreviated simply as Eid, is a principal Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. In Arabic, Fitr means "to break" and therefore symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period and of all evil habits. The holiday follows the month of Ramadan (usually October in the Gregorian calendar), falling on the first day of Shawwal (the tenth month in the Islamic calendar). As with all months in the Islamic calendar, it begins with the sighting of the new moon. For this reason there may be regional differences in the exact date of Eid, with some Muslims fasting for 29 days and some for 30 days.

Feast of the Assumption                                                                      August 15, 2013

The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15. The Eastern Orthodox Feast celebrates the Dormition of the Theotokos with a 14-day fast prior to the Feast of the Assumption. The Dormition is the period of Mary's time among the dead before her Assumption. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that Mary died and was later resurrected from the dead, before being assumed into Heaven. Many Catholics also believe this, but many others believe she never died and was assumed into Heaven while alive. Eastern (Roman) Catholics also observe the Dormition as well as the Assumption. 

Labor Day                                                                                                        September 2, 2013

Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.

Rosh Hashanah                                                                                    
September 5 - 6, 2013

Rosh Hashanah is a religious holiday celebrating the Jewish New Year. It literally means “Head of the Year”. It ushers in ten days of repentance and spiritual renewal. Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown onSeptember 4, 2013

Yom Kippur                                                                                         September 13 - 14, 2013

Yom Kippur is the holiest and most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. It falls in September or October, in the Jewish month of Tishri. It lasts from sunset on the ninth day of Tishri until three stars appear after the tenth day. Jews observe Yom Kippur as a day of fasting and worship. On this day, devout Jews think of their sins, repent, and ask forgiveness from God and from other people. Yom Kippur begins at sundown onSeptember 13, 2013

Sukkot                                                                                                 September 19 – September 25, 2013

Sukkot begins a seven-day festival in commemoration of the Jewish people’s 40 years of wandering in the desert as well as thanksgiving for the fall harvest. The ancient Hebrews celebrated Sukkot as a festival of thanksgiving and brought sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem. Jews still observe the holiday by making joyous parades in synagogues and carrying lulabs (palm branches), etrogs (citrons), and myrtle and willow branches. During Sukkot, traditional Jews live in a hut called a sukkah as a reminder of the temporary dwellings in which their ancestors lived during their wanderings in the wilderness in Biblical times. Sukkot begins at sundown on September 18, 2013.

Simchat Torah                                                                                                 September 26 - 27, 2013

Simchat Torah, means “Rejoicing in the Torah.” It is a Jewish festival of rejoicing in the Torah, or Law. Simhat Torah marks the end of the annual cycle of readings from the Torah that take place in the synagogue every week. The cycle begins again on the first Saturday after Simhat Torah. The festival falls on the 23rd day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. Tishri usually occurs in September and October. Jews in Israel and Reform Jews observe the festival on the 22nd day of Tishri. This festival begins at sundown on September 25, 2013.

Shemini Atzeret                                                                                   September 26 - 27, 2013

Jewish holiday, the eighth day of Solemn Assembly, that follows Sukkot, is observed with memorial services and cycle of Biblical readings and is a supplementary two-day celebration. Shemini Atzeret begins at sundown on September 25, 2013.

Eid-ul-Adha: Feast of the Sacrifice                                                       October 15 - 18, 2013
Religious festival celebrated by Muslims, commemorating Abraham’s (Ibrahim’s) willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God. It marks the end of the Haji (pilgrimage to 
Mecca.). Observed with prayer, sacrificing a goat or sheep and feasting with family and friends. U.S. date may vary; begins at sunset the preceding day.

Feast of All Saints (All Saints Day)                                                       November 1, 2013

A Christian, primarily Roman Catholic, holiday falls on November 1, followed by All Souls Day on November 2, which commemorates the faithful departed. The Eastern Orthodox Church's All Saints is the first Sunday after Pentecost and as such marks the close of the Easter season.
Diwali                                                                                                   November 3, 2013

Diwali, a holiday observed by Hindus, as well as Sikhs, Jains, and other peoples of India; it occurs in either October or November each year and signifies the beginning of the new year as well as the triumph of good over evil. The name of the festival comes from the Sanskrit word dipavali, meaning row of lights. Diwali is known as the 'festival of lights' because houses, shops, and public places are decorated with small clay oil lamps called Diyas. These lamps, which are traditionally lit by mustard oil, are placed in decorative arrangements in windows, doors and outside buildings.

Veterans’ Day                                                                                                   November 11, 2013

Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, is a United States federal holiday observed on November 11 honoring armed service veterans.

Thanksgiving Day                                                                                November 28, 2013                                                                                                                                           
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. On Thanksgiving Day, people give thanks for what they have and for the good things that happened during the year. The first Thanksgiving in New England took place in PlymouthMassachusetts, in 1621. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Presidents made a similar declaration each year afterward. Congress established Thanksgiving Day as a legal national holiday beginning in 1941.

American Indian Heritage Day                                                              November 29, 2013

On November 13, 2007, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation introduced by Representative Joe Baca that encourages the designation of the Friday after Thanksgiving Day as Native American Heritage Day to pay tribute to Native Americans for their many contributions to the United States. It is observed as a state holiday in Maryland. Source:
Hanukkah (Chanukah)                                                                          November 28 – December 5, 2013 

Hanukkah (Chanukah) is celebrated by Jewish people around the world to commemorate their victory in the Maccabean War of 162 B.C.E. After the war, the Temple was cleansed and rededicated and the Menorah (perpetual lamp) was relit. Hanukkah means "dedication" in Hebrew. The celebration of Hanukkah is also known as the "Feast of Lights" because one of the stories told is that the oil for the lamps was sufficient only for one day but burned miraculously for eight days. Today, Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a special Menorah with eight candles plus a ninth shammash candle (server used to light the others). The dates of the Holiday usually fall in November or December, starting on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar each year. Hanukkah begins at sundown November 27, 2013.

Bodhi Day                                                                                            December 8, 2013

On Bodhi day some Buddhists celebrate Gautama's attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at BodhgayaIndia.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception                                                    December 8, 2013

The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in some Christian churches on December 8. A feast called the Conception of Mary arose in the Eastern (Catholic) Church in the seventh century. It spread to the West in the eighth century. In the eleventh century it received its present name, the Immaculate Conception. In the eighteenth century it became a feast of the Roman Catholic Church.    
Christmas Day                                                                                        December 25, 2013

Christmas is a Christian holiday held on December 25 which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The story of Christmas comes chiefly from the Gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew in the New Testament. According to Luke, an angel appeared to shepherds outside the town of 
Bethlehem and told them of Jesus' birth. Matthew tells how the wise men, called Magi, followed a bright star that led them to Jesus. The word Xmas is sometimes used instead of Christmas. This tradition began in the early Christian church. In Greek, X is the first letter of Christ's name. It was frequently used as a holy symbol.  
December 26, 2013

Kwanzaa (or Kwaanza) meaning “first fruits” in Swahili, is a week-long secular holiday honoring African American heritage, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year, by African Americans in the United States of America. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting, singing, and culminating in a thanksgiving feast and gift-giving. It was founded by Ron "Maulana" Karenga, and first celebrated from December 26, 1966, to January 1, 1967. Karenga calls Kwanzaa the African American branch of "first fruits" celebrations of classical African cultures.  



Chase’s Calendar of Events 2013. McGraw-Hill. 2013.

Calendar of World Religions:  Retrieved December 1, 2012

World Book Encyclopedia 2009. World Book Inc.

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