Events of the Month
JAN-1: We continue in the UN-declared Decade
for a Culture of Peace.
JAN-1: This is the final day of the week-long,
inter-faith celebration of Kwanza (a.k.a. Kwanzaa, Quansa) - a cultural holiday
celebrating African-American heritage. "Kwanza" is a
Swahili word for "the first," or "the first
fruits of the harvest". The seven principles of Kwanza are:
unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility,
cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. 1
JAN-1 to 3: Shogatsu (a.k.a. Gantan-sai) is the most
important holiday in Japan. It is celebrated by followers of two religions: Shinto
and Buddhism. In Japan, each new year is
traditionally regarded as a
fresh start; JAN-1 is believed to be representative of the
entire year to follow. 2
JAN-1: This is the fourth New Year's day of
the new millennium. (The last year of the 20th century ended at midnight,
in the evening of 2000-DEC-31). This is primarily a secular holiday.
JAN-3: The last day of a Zoroastrian four day
festival of Ghambar Maidyozarem, which recalls the
birthday of the last of the human gurus in 1666 CE.
It commemorates God's creation of the
sky and the harvesting of winter crops.
JAN-5: Sikhs celebrate the Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh. He
was the tenth Guru of the Sikh Panth, and particularly remembered for his
battles for religious freedom, and his teachings of the equality of all
JAN-6: The western Christian church celebrates Epiphany
every year on this day.
This recalls the visitation of an unknown number of Zoroastrian astrologers
from Persia to Jesus
about a year after his birth. The day is associated with the baptism of Jesus by the
Eastern Orthodox churches.
JAN-6: The Armenian Christian Church celebrates Christmas on this day.
JAN-7: Most Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on
this day. They continue to use the Julian calendar, which is currently
offset by 13 days from the more commonly used Gregorian calendar. The gap
between the calendars continues to grow about a half-day per century.
JAN-12: This is the 400th anniversary of the date when King
James 1 convened a conference to create an official Bible to be used
throughout England. It took seven years to complete. It is generally
referred to as the King James Version (KJV).
JAN-13: Sikhs observe Maghi (a.k.a.
Makara Sankranti), the first day of the month of Magh. It recalls the
the Chali Mukte, (literally, the Forty Liberated Ones), who died
protecting Guru Gobind Singh.
JAN-14: Most Orthodox churches celebrate New Years on this
JAN-14: Hindus celebrate Makar Sankrant (day of
passage into the constellation of the Crocodile -- known as Capricorn in
the West). It is the only feast in the Indian calendar which is not
celebrated on a fixed day of the lunar month. A saying of the day is "Tilgul
ghya, god bola." (Take tilgul and speak sweetly). Tigul is an
JAN-16: National Religious Freedom Day is intended to broaden awareness of the Virginia
Statute for Religious Freedom - the first law in the history of western
civilization which protected religious freedom for all persons. Celebrations usually occur
on or before JAN-16. 6
President George W. Bush issued a national proclamation for this day.
JAN-18: This is the first day of the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is held on the dates
proposed in 1908 by Paul Watson: from the feast of St. Peter on JAN-18 until
the feast of St. Paul on JAN-25. 8 Churches in the
Southern hemisphere schedule the week at other times. The week promotes unity
within the Christian faith, which is currently divided into tens of
thousands of faith groups.
JAN-18: This is World Religion Day. The Baha'i Faith created this observance to
promote interfaith understanding and cooperation. The
celebrations emphasize common factors seen in all of the world's great
JAN-18-24: Sanctity of Human Life 2004 is observed at different
Some conservative Christian groups observe it as a one-day
celebration on the Sunday nearest to the JAN-22 anniversary of the U.S.
Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which legalized access to early
abortions. President Bush declared JAN-18 to be "National Sanctity of
Human Life Day, 2004." 13
- Others celebrate it on the third Sunday in January.
Focus on the Family suggests that it last for a week, and
include both the third and fourth Sundays in January (JAN-18 to JAN-25
This is a pro-life activity based on the belief that human
personhood begins at conception. 7 The name is somewhat curious, because sperm,
ova and even human cancer are all forms of human life -- they are alive and
contain human DNA -- but are not normally considered sacred.
JAN-19: This national holiday in the U.S. is held on the third Monday in January celebrates the life of civil
rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the only American besides George Washington to have a national
holiday designated on his birthday. 4 After passing
overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives, the Senate defied
efforts by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) to sidetrack the legislation, and
approved the measure by a vote of 78 to 22. King is perhaps best
known for his "I have a dream" speech, delivered on the
steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on 1963-AUG-28 -- a
dream that has yet to be fully realized. 5 His actual
birthday was JAN-17.
JAN-22: This is the Chinese Spring Festival, known in
the West as the Chinese New Year. The date of the start of the
festival is established by a lunar/solar calendar and thus varies from
late January to mid February. It lasts for three days. This is the
year of the monkey. It is the year 4701, 4702, or 4641 by the
Chinese lunar calendar; sources differ. 11
JAN-22: On this date in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed
down their Roe v. Wade decision which legalized, but did not
guarantee, abortion access
throughout the United States. Pro-life groups observe this day as the
start of murder on a massive scale of unborn babies by means of abortion.
Pro-choice groups celebrate
the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade as a major victory for the rights of
women to control their own bodies.
JAN-26: Hindus and some
Muslims in Northern India observe
Basant Panchami (a.k.a. Vasanta Panchami & Magh Sukla
Panchami) during the month of Magh (January-February). This
celebrates the first day of spring. Yellow colored clothes are traditionally
worn; yellow is a sign of auspiciousness and spirituality. Hindus
worship the sun, Mother Gang, the Goddess Saraswathi -- the Deity of the
sacred river Ganges and of wisdom and learning. 10
JAN-29: Zoroastrians celebrate
Jashan Sadeh, their mid-winter festival. It honors the element
of fire which is sacred in the Zoroastrian faith.
JAN-27: This is 59th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz
death camp, which had been constructed by the Nazis during World War
II to facilitate the mass
extermination of Jews, Poles and other people that the Nazis
This list continues below.
Celebrations coming in early 2004-FEB:
FEB-1: This is Super-Bowl Sunday. It is also called the
"day of dread" by some women, because of the rumor that spousal assaults reach
an annual peak on this weekend. This "Super Bowl statistic remains a
widely-cited and believed piece of misinformation." 12
There is no reliable data to support the belief. However, some
Canadian researchers found that traffic fatalities have traditionally been
significantly higher on this day than on adjacent Sundays.
FEB-2: Imbolc is one of four major
Wiccan sabbats (seasonal days of celebration). It literally means "in the belly." It looks forward to
warmer weather coming later in the year.
FEB-1: Four Chaplain's Sunday is a
Christian/Jewish Interfaith celebration. It recalls an event during World War
II when four Chaplains, both Jews and Christians gave away their life jackets
to soldiers when a troop ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean.
FEB-4: Hindus celebrate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti
(1863 to 1902). He spread the message of Hinduism to the West, and
greatly influenced leaders of the Indian independence movement.
FEB-7: Tu B'shevat: This is a Jewish holiday, "The
New Year of the Trees," which celebrates the coming of spring. Trees
are planted, and foods native to Israel are prepared.
FEB-9: This is the first day of Freedom to
Marry Week. Over twenty cities in the U.S. are organizing rallies to
promote the concept of allowing all couples to marry -- whether
opposite-sex or same-sex. 15
Kwanzaa Information Center at: http://melanet.com/kwanzaa/
"New Year (Shogatsu)," at: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2064.html
"Guru Gobind Singh Ji," at: http://www.yorku.ca/org/yssa/Ngobind.htm
"Martin Luther King, Jr," at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/mlk/
"I have a dream," at: http://web66.coled.umn.edu/new/MLK/MLK.html
Council for America's First Freedom at
"Sanctity of human life 2001 resources,"
"The week of prayer for Christian unity
"World religion day," at: http://www.worldreligionday.com/
"Vasanta Panchami," at: http://travel.indiamart.com/fairs-festivals/
"Chinese New Year Lunar Calendar," at:
"Super Bull Sunday," snopes.com, at:
"National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2003 By the President of
the United States of America: A Proclamation," at:
George W. Bush, "Religious Freedom Day, 2004" 2004-JAN-16, at:
"Freedom to Marry Week," at Metropolitan Community Churches.
Although care was taken in the preparation of this list, we cannot accept
responsibility for any errors or their consequences.
Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Essay prepared on 2004-JAN-16
Latest update: 2004-JAN-22
Compiled by B.A. Robinson