Free Speech and Religion

Celebrating Together: 2023 Spring Festivals & Religious Practices

March 7, 2023

The spring is a time for renewal, reflection, and celebration for many faiths. The season provides a unique opportunity to identify common values such as generosity, service, and peace. In light of our mission to advance religious pluralism, we invite you to expand your personal  religious literacy and to promote understanding and curiosity during our shared time of observance.

Lent: February 22-April 8, 2023; Easter: April 9, 2023

The Easter holiday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion and is one of the most important to the Christian faith. Easter is preceded by the season of Lent, forty days of observance, beginning on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22) and ending on April 6. Most Christians who observe this season draw inspiration from and mirror Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for forty days by giving up something of importance to them during this period, or by prioritizing service to others.
Lent comes to a close with the observance of Holy/ Maundy Thursday, the observance of the last supper, Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, and finally, Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection.

Though most western Christians will observe Easter and Lent from February 22 – April 9, Eastern Orthodox communities will observe from Feb. 27- April 16.

Fun Fact: Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” the party-like atmosphere of the famous parades and celebrations reflect the practice of indulging on the last day before the Lenten season of sacrifice.

February 25 – March 1

Ayyam-i-Ha means “Days of Ha,” and is a Bahá’í holy day that celebrates the attributes of generosity, love, compassion, praising God, and friendship. Many observers share meals together during this holiday, and some exchange gifts, while others give back to their community. It is meant to prepare observers for an upcoming month of fasting from sunrise to sunset during the Bahá’í month of Ala, from March 1 to March 19. 

Fasting is meant as a time of reflection and discipline, and is not just about abstaining from food and drink, but also a spiritual practice. 

Fun Fact: During this period of fasting, many families and communities create traditions, like getting up early together to prepare a meal before dawn, or gathering to break the fast at the end of the day. 

March 6-7, 2023

The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates the rescue of the Jewish people from a plot to exterminate them, as told in the Book of Esther. The holiday will start on the evening of March 6 and continue through March 7.

To celebrate this holiday, many Jews join their families or communities to share a meal (Seudah), wine and/or Hamantaschen, triangular cookies filled with jam, poppy seeds, and other fillings. Communities often reenact the story of Esther and dress up in costume to mark the joyful occasion.

Fun Fact: If you’d like to greet your colleague or friend during Purim, you can greet them in Hebrew by saying “Chag Purim Sameach.”

March 8, 2023

Holi is a spring festival celebrated by Hindus around the world. The festival is a celebration of spring and focuses on harmony, new beginnings, and the renewal of social bonds.

Holi is particularly well known for the throwing of colors as an element of celebration. The holiday is also closely associated with Krishna, because of his playful and lively nature and his love of music and dance. This playfulness is encouraged during Holi because the social hierarchies are deprioritized during its celebration.

Fun Fact: One of the largest Holi gatherings in North America is hosted by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness and regularly attracts nearly 70,000 participants to Spanish Fork, Utah.

Naw Ruz
March 21, 2023

Naw Ruz, meaning “the new day,” is the Bahá’í New Year festival. Naw Ruz traditionally falls on the spring equinox but is fixed on March 21 for those celebrating outside Iran, where many Iranians also observe the holiday in accordance with the Zoroastrian calendar.
In the Bahá’í tradition, days begin at sunset, so the holiday will begin on the evening of March 20. Naw Ruz marks the first day of the month Baha, which is the first month in the Bahá’í calendar. The New Year is a joyous day of celebration, typically filled with prayer, celebration, music, and dancing.

Fun Fact: During the Persian observance of Naw Ruz (also called Nowruz), you will often find a table filled with seven items starting with the Farsi letter “S” that symbolize hopes for the new year. These items include: sabzeh, senjed, sib, seer, samanu, serkeh, and sumac.

March 22- April 21, 2023

The holy month of Ramadan is observed by Muslims throughout the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, ending with Eid al-Fitr, the festival of the breaking of the fast. The holiday’s dates are determined by the Islamic lunar calendar and this year will fall between approximately April 2- May 2.

Fasting is one of the most important practices when observing Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. During this month, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance, and use the time to recenter on their faith by practicing self-restraint and carrying out good deeds.

Fun Fact: In recent years, many Muslim communities have hosted interfaith iftars, evening meals that break fast, to connect with their neighbors of other faith traditions.

April 5- April 13, 2023

Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays. Jews have many ways of observing the eight-day festival celebrating the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt. Their observances include the abstaining from leavened foods, keeping strict kosher, observing days of rest, and retelling the story of the exodus from Egypt.

Seder, the traditional Passover meal, is held after nightfall on the first and second nights of Passover. The ceremonial foods included on the seder plate (ka’arah) include bitter herbs dipped into charoset (a paste of nuts, apples, pears, and wine), egg, and shank bone. The ritual also includes four cups of wine, washing of participants’ hands to ensure they are purified, and readings from the youngest family member.

Fun Fact: During the Seder meal, some Jews include an orange on their plate. The orange represents the fruitfulness for all Jews when their communities are diverse and inclusive, particularly of women and the LGBT community.

April 14, 2023

Vaisakhi commemorates the creation of the Khalsa Panth, an order of initiated Sikhs devoted to serving the Creator and humanity. The Khalsa Panth was established by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 CE and built on the effort of Guru Nanak (1469-1539 CE) who started the process of forming the Sikh community nearly two centuries earlier. Many Sikhs choose to be initiated into the Khalsa Panth on Vaisakhi, following the example of the five disciples who were initiated by Guru Gobind Singh.

Before 1699, Vaisakhi was celebrated as the beginning of the harvest festival in the Punjab region in India. It is still celebrated in this way, and many observe Vaisakhi as both a cultural and religious holiday. Vaisakhi is an occasion for celebrating the Sikh community’s growth and in both its cultural and religious context, is fundamentally about community, progress, and celebration.

Fun Fact: Nearly ten years ago, our Executive Director Simran Jeet Singh wrote about Vasiakhi in the Daily Beast and educated many on this cultural and religious holiday.

Vesak Day (Buddha Day)
May 5, 2023

Vesak Day commemorates the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, his Enlightenment, and when he died and passed into parinirvana. The holiday is considered the most important Buddhist holiday in Southeast Asia and in the Theravada and Tibetan traditions. It is also appropriately referred to as Buddha Day because it celebrates many of the milestones of the Buddha’s life and spiritual journey.
Like many of the other holidays celebrated during this time, the date of observance is determined by a solar and lunar calendar, meaning that it shifts year to year and typically falls in April, May, or early June.
During Vesak Day, observers focus on three values: giving, virtue, and cultivation. The carrying out of these values may include meditation, good deeds, or focusing time on recommitting to one’s faith.

Fun Fact: In many countries you might see Buddhist flags flying during Vesak celebrations. The flag is made up of six vertical bands representing the 6 auras emanating from the Buddha after his enlightenment.

Many religious traditions will observe holidays during the months of March, April, and May; however, we acknowledge that not all have been included. We are always open to learning and growing. If you noticed that a holiday of importance is not included, please email Alise Murawski with a short paragraph on the holiday at