Spiritual Practice

O you whose spirit bears witness

O you, whose spirit bears witness, we gather in all stages of life, and all manner of life to face our highest ideals, and to be comforted. May the least among us be able to become empowered, ultimately drink from the wellsprings of prosperity, and hope. May those who have been rejected be embraced with wide open arms. May we be reminded that we are co-creators with you in establishing the realm of heaven, of peace, joy, and liberation so that others may have life. In the name of the still speaking, still evolving one. Amen by Shawn Koester (as Kwana Rosca) given on December 13th, 2007 at the UU Church of Second Life

UU Holidays

January

 1/16: Birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (observed) -- Baptist preacher and non-violent advocate for the rights of African-Americans.

Standing on the Side of Love's 30 Days of Love, from Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday (January 15) to Valentine's Day (February 14)

Anniversary of Roe v. Wade (Jan 22nd)

February

Waitstill & Martha Sharp, and the founding of the UUSC (observed last Sunday in Feb)

March

7 - Anniversary of March from Selma (March 7th)

March 11 - Martyrdom of Rev. James Reeb

Martyrdom of Ms. Viola Liuzzo

UUSC's Justice Sunday (observed 3rd Sunday in March)

World Water Day (March 22)

Earth Hour (last Saturday in March)

April

4/7: Birthday of William Ellery Channing (1780), Unitarian who believed all concepts of Deity to be aspects of the one Deity, and preached religious tolerance.

4/22: Earth Day - to honor the earth and the interconnected web of existence of which we are a part.  Earth Day (April 22)

May

Birthday of Laura Towne (May 3rd)

Julia Ward Howe founds Mother's Day (2nd Sunday in May)

5/25: Birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803), Transcendentalist Unitarian who believed in equality, self reliance, and the immanence of Deity in humans and in all Nature.

June

July

Women's Rights Convention of Seneca Falls & Rochester - Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Lucy Stone ()

August

September

John Murray preaches universalism for the first time in the U.S. (Sept 30th)

October

10/2: Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi (1869), Hundu advocate for human rights, self-reliance, and non-violent resistance to injustice.

Indigenous People's Day (Oct 8th)

November

Transgender Day of Remembrance (Nov 20)

UUSC's Guest at Your Table (Sunday before Thanksgiving)

December

12/26/04 to 1/1/05: Kwanzaa--Festival celebrating positive African traditions; emphasizes unity, self- determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Seven Principles Calendar

Seven liturgical "seasons" (with some down-time in December and summer) in observance of our Seven Principles. Each season is associated with one of the colors of the rainbow. During each season, stories are told about our Unitarian Universalist tradition... people who said "Yes" when the Spirit called them to action.  (Other established UUobservances are included even if they do not necessarily fit the theme.)

This calendar is a work in progress, meant to be revised by the experiences and insights of the UU community.  Adopt/adapt as much or as little as you find useful and please provide suggestions in the wizdUUm discussion forums.


3rd Principle
Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning

(from late Sept to late Oct)

John Murray preaches universalism for the first time in the U.S. (Sept 30th)

Indigenous People's Day (Oct 8th)

The Start of OWL

4th Principle
Acceptance of One Another and Encouragement to Spiritual Growth

(from late Oct to late Nov)

Transgender Day of Remembrance (Nov 20)

UUSC's Guest at Your Table (Sunday before Thanksgiving)

How Kwanzaa came to be (12/26/04 to 1/1/05)

1st Principle
Inherent Worth & Dignity of Every Person

(from mid Jan to mid Feb)

Standing on the Side of Love's 30 Days of Love

from Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday (January 15)

to Valentine's Day (February 14)

2nd Principle
Justice, Equity & Compassion in Human Relations

(from mid Feb to late March)

Waitstill & Martha Sharp sail for Nazi-occupied Europe (observed 3rd Sunday in Feb)

Anniversary of March from Selma (March 7th - observed 1st Sunday in March)

Martyrdom of Rev. James Reeb and Ms. Viola Liuzzo (observed 2nd Sunday in March)

UUSC's Justice Sunday (observed 3rd Sunday in March)

7th Principle
The Interdependent Web of Existence

(from late March to late April)

Climate Justice Month

from World Water Day (March 22)

to Earth Day (April 22)

6th Principle
World Community with Peace, Liberty, and Justice for All

(from late April to late May)

Birthday of Laura Towne (May 3rd)

Julia Ward Howe founds Mother's Day (2nd Sunday in May)

Stories of Clara Barton and Dorthea Dix

5th Principle
The Right of Conscience and the Use of the Democratic Process

(from late May to late June)

Women's Rights Convention of Seneca Falls & Rochester - Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Lucy Stone ()

General Assembly

Taoist Holidays

Spring

(Feb 4th - May 5th)

Cardinal Pt: East
Color: Green
Element: Wood

LiChun (Feb 4th) - Start of Spring

Spring Festival/Chun Jie (1st day of the 1st lunar month falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice) - Observed in China (), Tibet (Losar), Korea (Sol), Vietnam (Tet), and other parts of Asia. Fifteen day long observance culminating in Lantern Festival.  It is a time to be with family, reaffirm family ties, pay visits with friends, and set the tone for the coming year.

The Kitchen God returns (4th day of 1st lunar month) -
The God of Wealth Cai Shen visits (5th day of 1st lunar month) -
GuanGong's day (13th day of the first lunar month) -

Lantern Festival/Yuanxiao Jie (15th day - full moon - of the 1st lunar month) - the culmination of Chinese new year's observances.

ChunFen (March 20) - Vernal Equinox. Day of DongWangGong/East King Father. Beginning the ascendency of Yang.

LaoTse's Birthday (15th day - full moon - of the 2nd lunar month) - Born around 570 BCE, founder of Taoism, author of the Tao te Ching.

QingMing/Grave Sweeping Day (April 5th) - Ancestral Graves are tended.  Offerings made.

Summer

(May 6th - Aug 6th)

Cardlinal Pt: South
Color: Red
Element: Fire

LiXia (May 6th) - Start of Summer

XiaZhi (June 21st) - Summer Solstice. The peak of Yang. Corresponds to South.  Offerings made.

Dragon Boat Festival/Duan wu Jie (5th day of the 5th lunar month) - Chinese festival to commemorate the unsuccessful attempt to rescue the patriotic poet Qu Yuan from the river.  The celebration's is a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year.

Late Summer

Cardinal Pt: Center
Color: Yellow
Element: Earth

...

Autumn

(Aug 7th - Nov 6th)

Cardinal Pt: West
Color: White
Element: Metal

LiQiu (Aug 7th) - Start of Autumn

Ghost Festival/Yu Lan (15th day - full moon - of the 7th lunar month) - Festival to honor the dead. Involves lighting of bonfires, traditional meal, paper lanterns, folk dances. (See Ullambana under Buddhist Holidays. Also known as Bon in Japan.)

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival/Zhong Qiu Jie (15th day - full moon - of the 8th lunar month) - Chinese harvest festival.  It also commemorates a strategic Chinese victory over Mongolia (Ming) dynasty.  The story of the Moon Maiden, Chang-O, is also celebrated.

QiuFen (Sept 23rd) - Autumn Equinox. Day of XiWangMu/West Queen Mother. Beginning the ascendency of Yin.

Confucius/KungFuTse's Birthday (Sept 28th) - Born around 551 BCE, founder of Confucianism, author of The Analects.

Double Ninth Festival/Cheung Yung (9th day of 9th lunar month)

Winter

(Nov 7th - Feb 3rd)

Cardinal Pt: North
Color: Black
Element: Water

LiDong (Nov 7th) - Start of Winter

DongZhi (Dec 22) - Winter Solstice.  The peak of Yin. Corresponds to North.  Offerings made.

Kitchen God departs (23rd day of 12th lunar month)

Pagan Holidays

Winter

Yule (Dec 20-23) - Winter Solstice.  Yule is the time of greatest darkness - the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is also associated with the rebirth of the Sun and Light. The solstice marks the beginning of the Solar new year.

Imbolc (Feb 2nd) - End of winter.  A day to celebrate the first glimpses of Spring It is also dedicated to the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Time for spring cleaning and new starts. Traditions: Burning fires and candles, cleaning, making a bed for Brigid.  Also celebrated as Groundhog Day.

Spring

Ostara (March 19-22) - Vernal Equinox.  The first true day of Springtide. The days and nights are now equal in length, with the days getting longer and warmer. A good time to plant the seeds of long-term goals. Eggs and bunnies symbolize new birth and new life.

Beltaine (May 1st) - End of spring.  Beltane is a celebration of fertility, growth, love and passion. The Land is ripe and fertile. The focus is on joy and happiness. Traditions: Dancing around the May Pole, lighting bonfires.  Also celebrated as May Day.

Summer

Litha (June 19-23) - Summer Solstice. The days of the first harvesting of herbs as the Earth now begins to share her bounty. This is the longest day and the shortest night; it is traditionally celebrated by a fire festival. The season between the planting and the harvest, June is also the "traditional" month in the West for handfastings and weddings.

Lughnasadh (Aug 1st) - End of summer.  The First Harvest. Plants are 'setting their seed" already for the next year as the cycle of Nature continues. The spring-plantings are beginning to come to fruition. Much of the symbolism for Lammas revolves around grains and bread. Traditions: Bread baking, making corn dollies.

Autumn

Mabon (Sept 21-24) - Autumn Equinox. The Second or Continuing Harvest. The days and nights are equal once again, gardens are in full bloom and heavy with nature's bounty, and the weather grows colder as winter approaches. Traditions: Making and drinking of wine, Rituals of thanks and sharing with the less fortunate.

Samhain (Nov 1st) - End of autumn. The Last Harvest. Festival marking the transformation of life to death - the end of the agricultural year, departure of migrating and hibernating animals, and decay and death of vegetal and animal life. Observed by remembering departed ancestors and contemplating one's own mortality. Samhain marks the end of the Pagan year.  Also celebrated as Halloween.

Jewish Holidays

Spring: Deliverance

Counting the Omer
Seven weeks from Passover, the 15th of Nisan (late March or April), until Shavuot, 6th day of Sivan (late May or early June)

Passover/Pesach (7-8 days) - Commemorates the deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, celebrates freedom from oppression. [Observed with dietary restrictions, the Seder meal (representing their hardships), and recitation of the Haggadah (relating the Exodus).]

Shavuot/Feast of First Fruits - Festival of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the grain harvest. Also commemorates Moses' receipt of the Ten Commandments/Israel's acceptance of the Law (Torah).

Summer: Judgement/Exile

Days in the Midst of Distress
Three weeks of sorrow,  from 17th day of Tammuz (after summer solstice) to 9th day of Av (late July)

Shiv'ah Asar b'Tammuz - Fast day commemorating the smashing of the Torah tablets by Moses and the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple

Tish'a B'Av - Fast day mourning the destruction of the first and second Temples and commemorating the beginning of exile.

Fall: Repentance

Days of Awe and Repentance
10 days, starting the 1st day of Tishrei (Sept or early Oct)

leading directly into Sukkot, starting the 15th day of Tishrei

Rosh Hashanah - Commemorates creation of the World; begins 10 days of penitence for harm done.

Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement - Day of fasting, making reparation for harm done, and helping those in need.

Sukkot (7-8 days) - Feast of Ingathering/Feast of Tabernacles - Festival of thanksgiving for the fruit harvest; originally. Also commemorates the years in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.

Winter: Joy/Victory

Starting with Hanukkah (late Nov or Dec) and ending with Purim. Purim is always one month before Passover/Pesach, which leads us back to the beginning.

Hanukkah/Festival of Lights (8 days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev) - Commemorates the struggle for religious freedom and re-dedication of the Temple. Menorah candles are lit. [Also commemorates the end of the olive harvest and the Winter Solstice.]

Tu B’Shevat/New Year for the Trees (15th day of Shevat) - Celebrated with tree plantings and orchard blessings.  Seeds are planted for the bitter herbs for Passover/Pesach.

Purim/Feast of Lots (14th day of Adar) - Celebrates a major victory over oppression and is recounted in the Megillah, the scroll of the story of Esther. Queen Esther defeats a plan to massacre all the Jews in Persia. Purim takes place on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar.

Muslim Holidays

Muharram

Islamic New Year (Muharram 1) Al Hijra (Islamic New Year) -- commemorates the migration of Mohammed and his followers to Medina in 622 C.E, the establishment of first Islamic state. The date begins the Islamic calendar year. No specific religious rituals are observed.

Ashura (Muharram 10) - Shi'a commemoration of the murder of Muhammad's grandson, Hussein.  Corresponds with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

12th day of Rabi I

Mawlid al-Nabi - Prophet Muhammad's birthday. Not universally observed, since more conservative Muslims considier it idolatry.

27th of Rajab

Isra' & Mi'raj - Commemorationg Muhhamad's journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and then up to heaven in one night. Night of journey of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) from Makkah to Jerusalem and then his ascension to heavens occured in the year 620 C.E. Muslims remember this day with gatherings held in mosques and homes and the whole story is told in peotry, chants, or lectures. Sweets or food are distributed.

Ramadan - Each year, Muslims spend a month in daytime fasting, during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar called Ramadan.

Begin Ramadan - a time of fasting, generosity, and reflection.

Laylat al-Qadr - Towards the end of Ramadan, Muslims observe the "Night of Power," which is when the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad. Commemorates the first revelation of the Qu'ran to Muslim Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel in 610 CE.

Eid al-Fitr - At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate "The Festival of Fast-Breaking." The significance of Eid is that it is the day of thanksgiving to Allah that He gve the opportunity to Muslims to benefit from and enjoy the blessing of the month of Ramadhan.

Hajj - Each year during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, millions of Muslims make an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia called Hajj.

Begin Hajj -

Day of Arafat - A day near the end of the Hajj when pilgrims gather at the Plain of Arafat to seek God's mercy, and Muslims elsewhere fast for the day. It was from this site that the Prophet Muhammad gave his Farewell Sermon.

Eid al-Adha - At the end of the annual pilgrimage, Muslims celebrate "The Festival of Sacrifice," which commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. A 3 day celebration for Muslims around the world whether they are making the Hajj or not.

Hindu Holidays

Different regions of India celebrate the new year at different times. Therefore, the holidays have been listed according to how they fall on the Western/Gregorian calendar.

Vasant Panchami/Saraswati Puja (Magh 5, Jan/Feb) - Celebration dedicated to Saraswati, goddess of learning.

Maha Shivaratri/Great Shiva Night (Magh 29, Feb/March) - Festival in honor of Lord Shiva and his marriage to the Goddess Parvati. Ceremonies involving prayers and hymns take place mostly at night.

Holi (Phalgun 14, March) - Spring festival of mirth and merriment, featuring bright colors and bonfires. Dedicated to Lord Krishna. Social barriers are torn down at this time.

Rama Navami (Caitr 9, April) - Celebration of the birth of Lord Rama, hero of the religious epic poem, The Ramayana. The day involves telling of stories and going to the temple.

Guru Purnima (Ashadh 15, July) - Celebration of one's respect for one's teacher or guru.

Raksha Bandhan (Shravan 15, Aug) - Festival honoring the loving ties between brothers and sister in a family.

Krishna Jayanti/Janamashtami (Bhadrapad 13, Aug) - Celebration of the birthday of Krishna. Nightlong prayers are held in the Temples.

Ganesh Chaturthi (Bhadrapad 4, Sept) - Festival honoring the god of prosperity, prudence and success.

Durga Puja/Navaratri/Dussehra (Ashvin 1-10, Oct) - Ten day festival celebrating the great mother goddess, Durga, as well as goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati.  The festivities culminate with the story of Durga's victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura.  And/or, the story of Rama's victory over demon king Ravana. 

Deepavali/Diwali/Festival of Lights (Kartik 30 — Margashirsh 5, Oct/Nov) - Festival for Goddess Lakshmi (source of health, fertility, and prosperity) and Her consort, God Vishnu (the preserver); focus is on peace-making and new beginnings.

Christian Holidays

Note that the size of the rows does not correspond to length of time.

Advent
Starting on the Sunday nearest Nov 30th and observed for four Sundays until Dec 24th

Advent is the beginning of the Christian worship year. Christians prepare for the birth of Christ by lighting of advent candles, displaying wreaths, and observing special ceremonies. Advent also anticipates the coming again to earth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas
12 days from Dec 25th until Jan 6th

Christmas (Dec 25th) - Celebration of Mary giving birth to Jesus.

Epiphany (Jan 6th) - Feast commemorating the adoration of the new-born Jesus by the Three Magi or Wise Men.

ordinary time
Jan 7th until the beginning of Lent

Candlemas (Feb 2nd) - Celebration of the presentation of young Jesus in the temple. New beginnings are recognized. Candles are lighted.

Lent
40 days from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday

Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter, which is tied to Passover)  - Fast day to begin Lent.  Ashes are marked on worshippers as a sign of penitence.  A time of purification by self-reflection, peace-making, reparation for harm done, and helping those in need. 

Annunciation Day (March 25th) - Feast commemorating Archangel Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary the coming birth of Jesus, and her assenting to conceive the child.

Holy Week
from Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday

Palm Sunday - Feast marking Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Marks the start of Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday - Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, gave them bread and wine in what is now known as the Last Supper, and told of the Holy Spirit who would come after him. It is usually observed with the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Good Friday - Fast day to mourn the torture and killing of Jesus by the Roman authorities, and to contemplate the sacrifice made for the liberation of all.

Easter
50 days from Easter Sunday until Pentecost Sunday

Easter/Pascha (observance is tied to Passover) - Celebration of Jesus' resurrection, the triumph of life over death.

Walpurgis/May Day (May 1st) - Feast of Saint Walpurga. Spring festival exactly six months from All Hallows Eve.

Ascension Day (6th Thurs after Easter) - Feast marking Jesus' ascension into Heaven, marking his departure from earth after the resurrection.

Pentecost (7th Sunday after Easter)- Feast celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit, upon the disciples of Jesus.

ordinary time
from Pentecost until Advent

Saint John's Day/Midsummer (June 24th) - Feast day of Saint John the Baptist. Summer festival six months before Christmas.

Lammas (August 1st) - Celebration observed by placing bread baked from first harvest on the altar.

Michaelmas (Sept 29th) - Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel. In medieval England, Michaelmas marked the ending and beginning of the husbandman's year

Hallowmas (Oct 31st - Nov 2nd) - A time to remember the dead.

Buddhist Holidays

Buddhism is observed in many different countries and cultures, using different calendars, making a common "Buddhist calendar" difficult.  In general, "lunar month" refers to the Chinese calendar, also used by Koreans and Vietnamese.  Japanese holidays are observed on the Western/Gregorian calendar.  And Therevadan observances use the Indian lunar calendar.

Maitreya Buddha's birthday (Ist day of 1st lunar month) -

Magha Puja Day or Sangha Day (full moon of Magha, usually in Feb) - Therevadan Buddhist celebration of the presentation of teachings by Lord Buddha to an assembly.  It was the day that the first Sangha was formed.

Sakymuni's Renunciation Day (8th day of 2nd lunar month) - The day that Prince Sakyamuni renounced his worldly station in order to seek the root of suffering on behalf of all living beings.

Nirvana Day (15th day - full moon - of second lunar month) - Mahayana celebration of the day that the Buddha attained Parinirvana (death without rebirth). Buddhists observe the day by meditating or by going to Buddhist temples or monasteries. Food is prepared and some people bring presents such as money, household goods or clothes. Some Buddhists read passages from The Paranibbana Sutta, which describes the last days of Buddha.

Kwan Yin Pusa/Avalokitesvara's birthday (19th day of 2nd lunar month) - Bodhisattva of Compassion

Pu Hsien Pusa/Samantabhadra's birthday (21st day of 2nd lunar month) - Bodhisattva of Praxis

Wen Shu Pusa/Manjushri's birthday (4th day of 4th lunar month) - Bodhisattva of Wisdom

Sakyamuni Buddha's Birthday (8th day of 4th lunar month, or April 8th in Japan) - Mahayana Buddhists observe this day as the Buddha's birthday.  Stories are told of the Buddha's birth and his destiny. 

Wesak (full moon of Vesakha or 15th day of 4th Chinese lunar month, usually in May) - Therevadan Buddhists observe this day to commemorate the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death (parinirvana).  The day is celebrated by all Buddhists. Begins Mahayanan Vassa

Asalha Puja or Dharma Day (full moon of Ashahda, usually in July) - Commemorates the Buddha's first discourse, given to five ascetics in the Deer Park at Sarnath (near Varanasi, India).  In the Mahayana tradtion, this marks the first turning of the Dhamma wheel. The day is usually celebrated by merit making, listening to a sermon by a monk or nun, and joining a candle lit procession during the night.  Some Buddhists read passages from the reading the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which describes the event.  In the Therevadan tradition, it is the preferred day for Buddhist men to be ordained as monks.

Therevadan Vassa (3 lunar months, starting the 16th day of Ashadha, usually July, until the full moon of Asvina, usually October) - The traditional three month long Rainy-Season Retreat observed by Therevadan monks and nuns.

Ta-Shih Chi Pusa/Mahasthamaprapta's birthday (13th day of 7th lunar month) - Bodhisattva of Power

Ullambana (15th night - full moon - of the 7th lunar month in China, July 15th in Japan) - Festival to honor the dead. Involves lighting of bonfires, traditional meal, paper lanterns, folk dances.  Ends Mahayanan Vassa.  (See Ghost Festival under Taoist Holidays. Also known as Bon in Japan.)

Patriarch Nagarjuna's birthday (24th day of 7th lunar month) - Founder of Madhyamaka, a MahayanaBuddhist school of thought that lead to Ch'an.

Di Cang Pusa/Ksitigarbha's birthday (30th day of 7th lunar month) - Bodhisattva of the Margins.  Ksitigarbha's birthday falls at the end of "ghost month."

Ananda's Day (8th day of 8th lunar month) - Keeper of the Dharma and advocate for women.

Pavarana Day (15th day of Asvina, usually in October) - End of Therevadan Vassa.  On this day, monks and nuns atone for any offense they might have committed during Vassa.  Begins a one-month time for laity to present needed gifts/alms of cloth for robes andfood to the monks and nuns.

Bhaisajya/Medicine Buddha's birthday (30th day of the 9th lunar month) - Buddha of the Eastern Pure Land.

Patriarch Bodhidarma's birthday (5th day of the 10th lunar month) - Founder of Ch'an Buddhism.

Amitabha Buddha's birthday (17th day of 11th lunar month) - Buddha of the Western Pure Land.

Bodhi Day (8th day of 12th lunar month in China, Dec 8th in Japan) - Mahayana Buddhist celebration of the time when Prince Gautama attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.  It is a day for Buddhists to profess their faith, to reaffirm their commitment to the Buddha, his teachings (the Dharma), and his disciples (the Sangha).

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