It’s good to know what the special religious days for friends, neighbours or colleagues are. It’s a chance to learn about their culture and to show some goodwill.

Christianity: Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent in the Christian church and takes place 46 days before Easter. As the date of Easter is calculated according to the moon cycles, the date of Ash Wednesday will vary from year to year. In 2021 it is on 17 February.

Judaism: Passover or Pesach is a Jewish celebration of the slaves freed from Egypt. Unleavened bread is eaten to honour the fact that God’s told the Jews to hurry, not to wait for the dough to rise. The festival will take place from the evening of 27 March to the evening of 4 April.

Hinduism: Holi, the Hindu festival of spring and colour, is from sundown on 28 to sundown on 29 March. It is celebrated first with a bonfire and then wet and dry colour is placed on the body. This is believed to be medicinal and ward off illness.

Easter, from 2 to 4 April this year, is one of the most important Christian festivals. Churches celebrate in different ways but most agree that it starts with Christ crucified on Good Friday and ends with Him rising from the dead on Easter Sunday.

Zion Christian Church: Easter is also a big weekend for the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), essentially a Christian Church combining African traditions with Christian faith. Thousands travel to the ZCC headquarters at Moria in Polokwane to worship.

Islam: Ramadan will start on the evening of 12 April this year once the full moon is seen and end on the evening of 12 May depending on sightings of the moon. During this time, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It ends with Eid al-Fitr on which families and friends share food and celebrate by wearing new clothes.

Baha’i faith: The Baha’i faith is an independent world religion founded in Persia (now Iran) in the mid-19th century. The most important festival is the First Day of Ridván on 20 April, which commemorates Bahá’u’lláh declaring his mission as a messenger of God.

Vesak, celebrating the life and work of the Buddha. Vesak day is celebrated on different dates by different traditions of Buddhism around the world. In India, it will be will on 26 May.

Eid al-Adha, which honours Abraham’s sacrifice of his son, takes place at the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is from sunset on 19 to sunset on 23 July this year.

Janmashtami is the birth of Lord Krishna, Krishna Janmashtami, and will be celebrated by Hindus on 29 August this year.

Rosh Hashanah marks the Jewish New Year from 6 to 8 September. Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and reconciliation, is from the evening of 15 to the evening of 16 September.

Muslims will celebrate Mawlid al-Nabi, the birth of Mohammed, on 19 October, starting at sunset the previous day.

Diwali will be celebrated by Hindus on 4 November. It celebrates the time when people lit the path of Lord Rama, his brother Lakshmana and his wife Sita on their return from 14 years of exile in the forest. The festival is characterised by fireworks and meals shared by family and friends.

Judaism: Hanukkah, the Festival of the Lights, celebrates the miracle of the oil burning in the temple for eight days. It takes place from 28 November to 6 December.

Christmas on 25 December celebrates the birth of Jesus in the Christian religion.

Dates correct at the time of publishing

THE YEAR IN RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS THE YEAR IN RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on January 12, 2021 Rating: 5
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