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[Published: Wednesday December 03 2008]

Multifaith calendar for January 2009


All dates are shown using the Gregorian (Western) calendar. The calendar is accurate, but some dates may vary regionally because they are determined by the lunar calendar. Jewish festivals usually begin at sundown on the previous day.

Thursday 1 January

Christian: Circumcision

Marks the day when Jesus was circumcised.

Secular: New Year's Day

The start of the Western calendar year

Shinto: Oshogatsu (or Shogatsu)

Shinto New Year, one of the most popular occasions for shrine visits.

Christian: Festival of St Basil the Great

St Basil is one of the great fathers of the Orthodox Church.

Sunday 4 January

Christian: Epiphany (Catholic Church in England and Wales)

The Catholic Church in England and Wales moves this festival to the nearest Sunday if it falls on a Saturday or Monday.

Monday 5 January

Sikh: Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh (Nanakshahi calendar)

Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) was the tenth and last of the Sikh Gurus. He instituted the Five Ks and established the Order of the Khalsa.

Tuesday 6 January

Christian: Epiphany

Celebrates the visit of the wise men (the magi) to the infant Jesus. In the East, where it originated, the Epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. (Catholics and Episcopalians celebrate this separately: see Baptism of the Lord) Also known as Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day).

Christian: Christmas Day (Armenian Orthodox)

Armenian Christians celebrate Christ's birth at Epiphany, except for Armenians in the Holy Land, who celebrate Christmas on January 19th.

Christian: Theophany

Orthodox churches mark the baptism of Jesus on this day.

Jewish: 10th Tevet

An important Jewish fast day.

Wednesday 7 January

Rastafari: Christmas Day (Ethiopian)

Rastafarians believe Ethiopia to be their spiritual homeland, and a place to which they want to return.

Christian: Christmas Day (Orthodox)

Most Orthodox churches use the Julian rather than the Gregorian version of the Western calendar. As a result, they celebrate Christmas 13 days later than other Christian churches.

Muslim: Ashura

Islamic holy day observed on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram. Shi'ite Muslims regard it as a major festival marking the martydom of the Prophet's grandson, Hussein..

Sunday 11 January


First Sunday after Epiphany

Epiphany takes place on the 6th of January, but most Christians celebrate it on the first Sunday after that date.

Christian: Baptism of the Lord

Commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. Occurs on the first Sunday after Epiphany. Catholics and Episcopalians celebrate this holy day, but Eastern Christianity celebrates the baptism of Jesus at Epiphany.

Tuesday 13 January

Christian: St Hilary's Day

According to tradition, "St. Hilary's is the coldest day of the year." St. Hilary was a fourth century Bishop of Poitiers.

Wednesday 14 January

Hindu: Makar Sankrant

Makar Sankrant is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu calendar and celebrates the sun's journey into the northern hemisphere.

Thursday 15 January

Shinto: Seijin Shiki (Adults' Day)

Japanese who have reached legal adulthood (20 in Japan) in the previous year attend a shrine to give thanks.

Sunday 18 January

Christian: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (start)

First celebrated in 1908. The days of 18-25 January (regardless of the days of the week involved) were originally chosen because they covered the days between the feast of St Peter and the feast of St Paul. Some churches and regions use a different week.

Bahai: World Religion Day

World Religion Day was instituted by the Baha'i community in 1950 to help foster interfaith understanding and harmony.

Wednesday 21 January

Christian: St Agnes

Patron saint of girls, martyred at the age of 13.

Sunday 25 January

Christian: St Paul's Day

Anglicans and Catholics celebrate St Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus.

Monday 26 January

Chinese New Year

Tuesday 27 January

Buddhist: Losar (start)

The most important holiday in Tibet, marking the Tibetan New Year. The celebration lasts three days from today.

Jewish: National Holocaust Memorial Day

The UK Holocaust Memorial Day was first held in January 2001. The date was chosen as the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Multifaith: National Holocaust Memorial Day

The UK Holocaust Memorial Day was first held in January 2001. The date was chosen as the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Wednesday 28 January

Christian: St Thomas Aquinas

Doctor of the Church and patron saint of students and theologians.

Saturday 31 January

Sikh: Birthday of Guru Har Rai (Nanakshahi calendar)

Guru Har Rai (1630-1661) was the seventh of the Sikh Gurus.

Hindu: Vasant Panchami

Dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of learning and Brahma's wife. The festival marks the beginning of Spring.


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