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UCD Diversity Calendar

Page Updated: 4th December 2023

As a Global University, UCD is committed to creating an environment where diversity is celebrated. The UCD Diversity Calendar and accompanying webpage provide information about diverse cultural celebrations and religious holidays. The aim of this resource is to celebrate UCD's diverse community and raise awareness of the various cultural festivals and celebrations around the world. We also encourage you to use the calendar as a reference to assist in planning events, activities and deadlines, along with the EDI Guidelines for Inclusive Events.

The calendar can be downloaded in PDF format or viewed online as a slideshow. Scroll down for descriptions of the featured religious and cultural dates and events or festivals.

A number of EDI groups contributed to the project, including the Multicultural Group, the Race & Ethnic Equality Working Group and the Multicultural Employee Network (MENU). Nevertheless, sources can differ on exact dates and spelling – for instance some dates are based on the Lunar Calendar or vary based on region and from year to year. Please contact (opens in a new window)edi@ucd.ie if you would like to make a suggestion or correction (the calendar will be updated twice a year, in March and September.)

To find out more about UCD’s commitment to promoting cultural diversity, visit our page on Multiculturalism

2024 Diversity Calendar Slideshow

To enlarge the below slides, click on the three vertical dots at the bottom of the box and select "enter full screen", and use the arrows to flick between slides/months. 

Further Information about Religious and Cultural Holidays and Observances

Click to expand the items below to find out more about religious holidays, festivals and other observances, as well as other significant cultural dates.

Buddhist Holidays and Observances

Bodhi Day - This Holy Day honours Buddha’s achievement of enlightenment (Nirvana). Bodhi Day is celebrated in a calm and quiet way. Buddhists will often spend time meditating and praying, thinking about the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.

Parinirvana Day (or Nirvana Day) -  An annual Buddhist festival that remembers the death of the Buddha when he reached Nirvana at the age of 80. Buddhists may celebrate Nirvana Day by meditating or by going to Buddhist temples or monasteries.

Magha Puja - celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month. It is traditional to use this day to honour the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha (his enlightenment), the Sangha (the community of Buddhists around the world) and the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha).

Vesak (Buddha Day) – Celebrated every year on the full moon in May, this is the most significant Buddhist holiday. It is also known as Wesak or Buddha Day. It is a celebration of Buddha's birthday and, for some Buddhists, marks his enlightenment. It is also a time to reflect on his teachings and what it means to be Buddhist

Asalha Puja (Dharma Day) - This day is celebrated by some Buddhists in commemoration of the Buddha's first sermon. It is seen as an opportunity for Buddhists to show their gratitude to the Buddha and to other enlightened teachers who have shared their knowledge.

Obon Festival – An annual Buddhist event that takes place over the course of several days commemorating and honouring ancestors. It is believed that each year during Obon, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.

Christian Holidays and Observances

Epiphany – Marks the final celebratory day of the Christian holiday season. Historically, it was used to mark both the Three King’s visit and the Baptist of Jesus in the River Jordan

Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday - Shrove, derived from shrive, refers to the confession of sins as a preparation for Lent. Although the day is sometimes still used for self-examination and introspection, Shrove Tuesday eventually acquired the character of a carnival or festival in many places and is often celebrated with parades. As the final day before the austerity of the Lenten fast, Shrove Tuesday also has many customs pertaining to food.

Ash Wednesday – Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities. On Ash Wednesday some churches hold services where Christians are invited to be marked with a cross of ash.

Palm Sunday - The Sunday before Easter, on which Christ's entry into Jerusalem, is celebrated in many Christian churches. It is associated in many churches with the blessing and procession of palms.

Good Friday - Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus by crucifixion. Christians meditate on Jesus' suffering and death and sometimes hold processions and/or re-enactments of the crucifixion. From the early days of Christianity, Good Friday was observed as a day of sorrow, penance, and fasting.

Easter Sunday – The culmination of Holy Week. It is the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

All Saints Day - Commemorates all the saints of the church, both known and unknown, who have attained heaven. It was previously known as All Hallows Day (Hallows meaning a saint) and the feast day started the previous evening, the Eve of All Hallows or Hallowe'en.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception – A holy day of obligation celebrating Mary's conception without sin.

Christmas Day - A holy day that marks the birth of Jesus, the son of God.

Hindu Holidays and Observances

Makar Sankranti Festival - Celebrates the sun’s movement into Capricorn and heralds the arrival of spring. It is considered an auspicious time for bathing in the holy river Ganga.

Maha Shivratri - This festival celebrates the start of spring and the overcoming of darkness and ignorance. This “great night of Shiva” is dedicated to Lord Shiva, known as the destroyer of evil and  involves all-night worship the night before, fasting on the day, prayer and vigil.

Holi Festival – The Festival of Colours celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the start of spring. People light bonfires and cover each other with coloured water and powders

Krishna Janmashtami - This day honours the birth of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the God Vishnu. Hindus celebrate the event by fasting and staying up until midnight, when Krishna is thought to have been born. At midnight, devotees gather around for devotional songs, dance and exchange gifts

Ganesh Chaturthi - A 10-day festival honouring the god Ganesha. Throughout the festival, celebrants offer food, sweets and prayers to clay statues of Ganesha at home and on public stages. Traditions include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts, prayers, and vrata (fasting).

Diwali (Festival of Lights) – The most popular festival in the Hindu calendar and literally means 'rows of lamps'. It is commonly known as the Festival of Lights. Hindus celebrate Diwali over a period of days which includes the beginning of the Hindu New Year. Customs include family gatherings, fireworks, strings of electric lights, bonfires, flowers, sweets, and worship of Lakshmi

Islamic Holidays and Observances

Ramadan – Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer for Muslims. It is celebrated as the month during which Muhammad received the initial revelations of the Quran, the holy book for Muslims. Fasting is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam. Each day during Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to sunset

Eid al-Fitr – Commemorates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. An occasion for special prayers, family visits, gift-giving and charity, it takes place over one to three days, beginning on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month in the Islamic calendar

Eid al-Adha - At the end of Hajj (an annual pilgrimage to Mecca), Muslims celebrate the "Festival of Sacrifice." As with Eid al-Fitr, it is distinguished by the performance of communal prayer (ṣalāt) at daybreak on its first day

Al Hijri (Islamic New Year): Marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year and the month in the Muslim calendar, Muharram. Customs vary from country to country, though they generally involve attending various religious activities, spiritual singing and religious meetings

Judaism Holidays and Observances

Shavuot - The celebration of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people, also known as the Festival of First Fruits.

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) – A holiday observed with festive meals and a day spent in prayer or quiet meditation. The beginning of ten days of penitence or teshuvah culminating on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur (Atonement Day) - The Jewish Day of Atonement—a day devoted to self–examination, and the chance to begin the New Year with a clean slate. Jewish congregations can spend the eve of Yom Kippur and the entire day in prayer and meditation.

Hanukkah -  The Festival of Lights. Celebration lasts for 8 days of prayer, gift giving, and lighting of the Menorah. A festival celebrating liberation from oppression, freedom of worship, and finding light in the darkest of times.

Pagan Holidays and Observances

Ostara (Spring Equinox) - Observed as a time to mark the coming of Spring and the fertility of the land. Many modern Pagans view Ostara as a time of renewal and rebirth.

Beltane Festival - Marks the beginning of summer in the ancient Celtic calendar. The holiday celebrates spring at its peak, and the coming summer. Beltane also sometimes goes by the name May Day. This festival is often commemorated with bonfires, maypoles, dancing, and performing fertility rituals.

Litha (Summer Solstice) - Occurs on the summer solstice, and celebrates the beginning of summer. For modern day pagans, Litha is a day of inner power and brightness

Lughnasadh - The final of the four primary festivals in the ancient Celtic calendar. It marks the beginning of autumn and the harvest season and celebrates the decline of summer into winter. Over the years, Lughnasadh has taken a few different forms and names, including ‘Garland Sunday’, ‘Bilberry Sunday’, ‘Mountain Sunday’, and the still surviving ‘Reek Sunday’. The latter is particularly known for the surviving Lughnasadh tradition of climbing hills and mountains – it is a popular day for pilgrims to climb Croagh Patrick.

Mabon - Known as the pagan Thanksgiving, Mabon marks the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are equal, making it a time of balance, equality and harmony. Many pagan groups choose to have a huge feast on this day with their family and friends using seasonal foods such as apples, grapes, root vegetables and other seasonal products.

Samhain - The first day of winter, it is the celebration that is the origin of Halloween, first observed by Celtic Pagans. Samhain marked the Celtic New Year, the end of summer, and the end of the harvest season. There are many rituals associated with Samhain today, including dancing, feasting, taking nature walks, and building altars to honour ancestors.

Yule - The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice, it is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. It marks the return of the sun, when days begin to get a little longer. Traditionally, it was marked by the burning of a yule log, and bringing evergreen plants into the home to “guard” their life essence.

Sikh Holidays and Observances

Vaisakhi - The Sikh New Year festival, one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar. Celebrations traditionally include singing and music, as well as reading scriptures out loud and chanting hymns

Guru Nanak Jayanti – Also referred to as Gunpurab, celebrates the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder and first Guru of Sikhism. Two days before the festival, events begin that include Akhand Paath, a 48-hour reading of the Guru Granth Sahib at gurdwaras (temples). The next day, Sikhs visit the gurdwara to chant hymns and hold Nagar Kirtan. On the festival day, celebrations include readings, music, and assemblies. 

Bahá’í Faith:

Bahá’í Fast - The Bahá’í Fast is a period of nineteen days during which Bahá’ís attempt to reinvigorate themselves spiritually, principally through restraining from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset.

Naw-Rúz - Bahá’ís call their New Year Naw-Rúz. It is the first day of the Bahá’í calendar year and is celebrated at the spring equinox.

Riḍván - Riḍván is a Bahá’í festival of 12 days, celebrating the time when Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, first declared His mission. The 1st, 9th and 12th days are celebrated by Bahá’ís as Holy Days.

Declaration of the Báb - The Declaration of the Báb is when Bahá’ís celebrate the day on which the Báb, Founder of the Bábí Religion and the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, first declared His mission.

Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh - Bahá’ís commemorate as a Holy Day the date on which Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, passed away.

Martyrdom of the Báb - Bahá’ís commemorate as a Holy Day the date on which the Báb, Founder of the Bábí Religion and the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, was executed.

The Birth of the Báb and the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh - The Báb, Founder of the Bábí Religion and the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, and Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, were born in 1819 and 1817, respectively, but just one day apart on the calendar. Bahá’ís celebrate the Twin Births as two consecutive Holy Days.

Cultural Holidays and Events

Below is a selection of culturally significant dates and festivals.


La Befana (Italy) - 6th January: Italians celebrate the religious feast of the Epiphany or the more popular folklore version of La Befana. In Italian folklore, La Befana is a witch who uses a broomstick to fly and brings good children treats on the morning of the Epiphany.

Nollaig na mBan6th January: The twelfth and final day of Christmas was known in Ireland as Nollaig na mBan - Women’s Christmas or Little Christmas. As a reward for their hard work over the Christmas season, it was a day off from all house work for women and traditional roles were supposed to be reversed in the home: men did the women’s work in the house while women rested and gathered together informally.  


St Brigid's Day - 1 February (Ireland): St Brigid’s Day - Lá Fhéile Bríde - celebrates Ireland’s only female patron saint on 1 February. With its origins in the Celtic festival of Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day was the festival of fertility and marked the beginning of spring in Ireland. People believed St Brigid crossed through the land on the eve of her feast day and gave blessings and protection to homes and farms where crosses were hung in her honour. The crosses were taditionally made with reeds, rushes, or straw.

Lunar New Year (Eastern Cultures): The Lunar New Year, most commonly associated with the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, typically falls sometime between 21 January and 20 February annually. Lunar New Year 2024 begins on 10 February, and in terms of the Chinese zodiac animal, it's the Year of the Dragon. (opens in a new window)Read more about the Chinese New Year 

International Day of Women and Girls in Science11th February: This day recognising the role of women and girls in science, not only as beneficiaries, but also as agents of change. The 7th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly will focus on the following topic: “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us". (opens in a new window)Read more about the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Carnival (Brazil): Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is a celebration of food, music and fun. It is held annually for a few days before the start of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting observed by the Roman Catholic Church before Easter. Carnival in Brazil eventually incorporated lots of parades, elaborate costumes, music, dancing and balls. A tradition also developed where people dress up in opposing roles: men dress as women, aristocrats dress as commoners, the poor dress as the rich. 


Mardi Gras (Western Cultures): Mardi Gras is traditionally celebrated on “Fat Tuesday,” the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. In many areas, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long festival. Across the globe, pre-Lenten festivals continue to take place in many countries with significant Roman Catholic populations. 

International Women's Day - 8th March: 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 gender parity. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Women's Day

St Patrick's Day17th March: St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on the anniversary of the saint's death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. Communities across the country showcase their Irish pride through a range of events, bringing the world together to experience that famous Irish spirit.

Nowruz - Persian New Year (Middle Eastern Cultures): Nowruz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on 21 March. It is celebrated as the beginning of the new year by more than 300 million people all around the world. Celebrating Nowruz means the affirmation of life in harmony with nature, awareness of the inseparable link between constructive labour and natural cycles of renewal, and a respectful attitude towards natural sources of life. (opens in a new window)Read more about Nowruz. 

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination21st March: The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws" in 1960. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Day for Elminiation of Racial Discrimination.  

World Down Syndrome Day – 21st March: World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.  The date being the 21st day of the 3rd month was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. (opens in a new window)Read more about World Down Syndrome Day.   


World Autism Awareness Day2nd April:  The United Nations General Assembly declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. The purpose of the event is to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with Autism so that they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. (opens in a new window)Read more about World Autism Day. 

Songkran Festival (Thai New Year): Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year festival. It is a celebration that embraces goodwill, love, compassion. and thankfulness, using water as the means of expression. 

Lesbian Visibility Day - 26th April: Lesbian Visibility Day celebrates lesbian role models and lesbian culture and diversity, and helps to raise awareness of the issues that lesbians have to face.


International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – 17th May: This International Day was created to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. The date of May 17th was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

World Day for Cultural Diversity Dialogue and Development – 21st May: This day celebrates not only the richness of the world’s cultures, but also the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development. (opens in a new window)Read more about World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.  

Derg Downfall Day – 28th May: The Downfall of the Derg is Ethiopia's National Day. It marks the end of the Derg regime in 1991. To mark this day, speeches are made to honour those who died in the civil war fighting for the overthrow of the Derg.  


Pride Month - 1st June to 30th June: Pride Month is celebrated every June as a tribute to those who were involved in the Stonewall Riots. During Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. 

World Refugee Day – 20th June:  World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. (opens in a new window)Read more about World Refugee Day. 


Dalai Lama Birthday – 6th July: The Dalai Lama’s birthday is celebrated as one of the grandest events of Tibetan community. In Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama lives, thousands of people from across the globe used to reach for being part of the birthday celebrations.

Al Hijri - Islamic New Year: Awal Muharram or Hijri New Year is celebrated by Muslims as the day symbolises two important events in the Islamic year. Awal means beginning in English and Muharram is the name of the first month in the Muslim calendar. The first day of Muharram is therefore the Islamic New Year's Day and on this date the Hijra, the historic journey from Mecca to Medina began. 


Obon Festival (Japan): Obon (お盆) is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one's ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives. Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors' spirits, obon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples. 

Ferragosto (Italy) – 15th August: Ferragosto is a day away from work, surrounded by food and loved ones. Besides the singular day, the week around Ferragosto is usually celebrated with concerts, outdoor festivals and tons of food 


Chuseok - Harvest Moon Festival (Korea): Chuseok (추석) is one of the biggest holidays in Korea and is celebrated both in South and North Korea. It’s a time when families gather together to give thanks to their ancestors for an abundant autumn harvest and is sometimes called Korean Thanksgiving.  

Mid-Autumn/Mooncake Festival (Eastern Cultures): The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important festival in China after Chinese New Year. It is celebrated by gathering for dinners, worshiping the moon, lighting paper lanterns and eating mooncakes. A “mid-autumn festival” is also celebrated in many other Asian communities outside of China. 

International Day of Sign Languages – 23rd September: The International Day of Sign Languages is a unique opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. It is marked in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Day of Sign Languages

Bi Visibility Day - 23rd September: Bi Visibility Day (also called Bisexual Pride Day, Celebrate Bisexuality Day, CBD, Bisexual Pride and Bi Visibility Day, and Bisexuality+ Day) is an annual holiday to recognize and celebrate bisexual people, the bisexual community, and the history of bisexuality.


Thanksgiving (Canada): Thanksgiving Day in Canada has been a holiday on the second Monday of October since 1957. It is a chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year.

World Mental Health Day – 10th October: The objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. (opens in a new window)Read more about World Mental Health Day

Intersex Awareness Day - 26th October: International Intersex Awareness Day raises awareness of human rights issues affecting intersex people.  


Día de los Muertos (Mexico) – 2nd November: Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) is a two day holiday that reunites the living and dead. Families create ofrendas (offerings) to honor their departed family members that have passed.

Guy Fawkes Day (United Kingdom) – 5th November: Also known as Bonfire Night, it is a British observance commemorating the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Today it is celebrated with parades, fireworks, bonfires, and food.

International Men's Day – 19th November: International Men’s Day celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families, and communities. It highlights positive role models and raises awareness of men’s well-being. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Men's Day

Transgender Day of Remembrance – 20th November: Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. Additionally, the week before TDOR, people and organizations participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise visibility for transgender people and address issues the community faces. (opens in a new window)Read more about Transgender Day of Remembrance

Thanksgiving (USA): Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Traditionally, this holiday celebrates the giving of thanks for the autumn harvest. The holiday is a moment to give thanks and spend time with relatives and friends, and it is steeped in traditions.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – 25th November: Women's rights activists have observed this date as a day against gender-based violence since 1981. This date was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were murdered in 1960. The UN invites governments, international organizations as well as NGOs to join together and organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the issue. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 


International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3rd December: This date aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities

St Nicholas Day (BeNeLux) – 6th December: This festival is celebrated throughout much of Northern Europe. It celebrates the Christian Saint who sold everything he owned to give money to the poor. Traditions include leaving small gifts and treats in shoes.

International Human Rights Day – 10th December: Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10th December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (opens in a new window)Read more about International Human Rights Day.  

Hogmanay (Scotland) – 31st December: Traditionally, Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter solstice holiday at New Year when family and friends would gather for a party and to exchange presents which came to be known as Hogmanay.   

Contact UCD Equality Diversity and Inclusion

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: edi@ucd.ie