Cultural Observances

The Multicultural Center at Georgia State University celebrates diversity and inclusion of all communities. Celebrating various cultural holidays and observances fosters an ever growing inclusive environment. Listed observances may be celebrated outside of the context of religion.
If you do not see an observance listed below, it may be included on our religious observances page. If you would like to request more cultural observances that may not be listed, please contact the Multicultural Center.

January

  • Gatan-sai (New Years): January 1, 2019
  • Gantan-sai is the Shinto celebration of the new year (oshogatsu).

  • Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day): January 6, 2019
  • Holiday observed by Eastern and Western Christians that recognizes the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus.

  • World Religion Day: January 20, 2019
  • Observed by the Baha’i faith to promote interfaith harmony.

  • Martin Luther King Day: January 21, 2019
  • Commemorates the life and celebration of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Republic Day of India: January 26, 2019
  • Commemorates the date the constitution of India came into law in 1950.

  • International Day of Commemoration: Janaury 27, 2019
  • A day to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.

February

  • African American History Month
  • Black History Month was first initiated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves, who received a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is considered a pioneer in the study of African American History. He believed that truth could not be denied and reason would prevail over prejudice. Thus, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) and Negro History Week in 1925. In 1976, this week expanded into Black History Month, also known as African American Heritage Month.

  • National Freedom Day: February 1, 2019
  • Celebrates the signing of the 13th amendment and the abolishment of slavery.

  • Imbolc: February 2, 2019
  • A Wiccan and Gaelic holiday celebrating fire and light and the return of life.

  • Setsubun-Sai (Beginning of Spring): February 3, 2019
  • Celebration of the beginning of spring in Japan.

  • Lunar New Year: February 5, 2019
  • The beginning of a three-day celebration of the Chinese New Year.

  • Lantern Festival: February 19, 2019
  • The first significant feast after the Chinese New Year.

  • Intercalary: February 26 – March 1, 2019
  • Intercalary days are observed with gift giving, special acts of charity and preparation for the fasting that precedes the New Yea for the Baha’i Faith.

March

  • National Women’s History Month
  • Like other heritage months, Women’s History Month was first nationally recognized in 1982 as Women’s History Week. In 1987, after the Women’s History Project petitioned, the week was expanded into a month used to recognize the shared past from a different perspective.

  • National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
  • A month to commemorate, acknowledge and appreciate the disability community. This is inclusive of all disabilities.

  • Nineteen-Day Fast: March 1-2; 19-20
  • A time in the Baha’i Faith to reinvigorate the soul and bring one closer to God.

  • Mardi Gras: March 5, 2019
  • The last day for Catholics to indulge before Ash Wednesday.

  • Ash Wednesday: March 6, 2019
  • The beginning of Lent in the Christian faith

  • International Women’s Day: March 8, 2019
  • A major global celebration honoring women’s economic, political and social achievements.

  • Deaf History Month: March 13-April 15, 2019
  • This observance celebrates key events in deaf history.

  • St. Patrick’s Day: March 17, 2019
  • A holiday started in Ireland to recognize St. Patrick.

  • Vernal Equinox/Ostara: March 20, 2019
  • Celebrated by Wiccan and Pagan faiths to acknowledge the first day of spring.

  • Nowruz: March 21, 2019
  • Celebrated by Middle Eastern and Central Asian cultures to honor the return of spring.

  • Khorad Sal (Birth of prophet Zoroaster): March 27, 2019
  • Commemorates the birth of Zoroaster, a spiritual leader and ethical philosopher.

  • International Transgender Day of Visibility: March 31, 2019
  • Celebrated to bring awareness to the transgender community and their identities.

April

  • Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping Day): April 5, 2019
  • The only traditional Chinese holiday celebrated according to the solar calendar.

  • National Tartan Day: April 6, 2019
  • This day recognizes the contributions of Scottish Americans to the U.S.

  • Rwanda Genocide Commemoration: April 7, 2019
  • Commemoration of the genocide that took place in Rwanda.

  • Day of Silence: April 20, 2019
  • The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) annual day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of LGBTQIQA students and their supporters.

  • First Day of the Ridvan Festival: April 21, 2019
  • Commemoration of the Baha’u’llah in 1863 of his missions as the last messenger of God to the world.

  • Earth Day: April 22, 2019
  • Promotes world peace and sustainability on the planet.

May

  • Jewish American History Month
  • Proclaimed by President George W. Bush to recognize and celebrate the history of Jewish American culture.

  • Asian-Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month
  • May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and is a time to celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander history and culture. In 1977, New York and California state representatives introduced a bill that eventually led to the first 10 days of May to be known as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. Twelve years later, under President George H. W. Bush, the week-long celebration was extended into a month-long celebration.

  • Beltane: May 1, 2019
  • Celtic celebration signifying the beginning of summer.

  • Cinco De Mayo: May 5, 2019
  • A Mexican holiday commemorating the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).

  • Memorial Day: May 27, 2019
  • A day to commemorate military lives lost after the Civil war.

June

  • Dragon Boat Festival: June 7, 2019
  • This public holiday honors Ch’ Yuan, China’s first major poet, who drowned himself in 278 B.C.E. to protest the injustice and corruption of his prince’s government.

  • Flag Day: June 14, 2019
  • Observed to celebrate the history and symbolism of the American flag.

  • Native American Citizenship Day: June 15, 2019
  • Commemorating the day when the U.S. Congress passed legislation recognizing the citizenship of Native Americans in 1924.

  • Juneteenth: June 19, 2019
  • Commemorates the last African Americans in Galveston, Texas to find out they were free from slavery.

  • Litha: June 21, 2019
  • A Pagan and Wiccan celebration of the beginning of summer.

  • First Nations Day: June 21, 2019
  • Gives recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization in Canada.

  • Last Sunday in June
  • LGBTQIQA Pride Day in the United States. It celebrates the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969.

July

  • Independence Day: July 4, 2019
  • Honors the birthday of the United States of America and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

  • Birthday of Haile Selassie I: July 23, 2019
  • Commemorates the birthday of Haile Selassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia who Rastafarians consider their savior.

  • Pioneer Day: July 24, 2019
  • Observed by Mormons to commemorate the arrival of the first Latter Day Saints pioneers in 1847.

  • Disability Independence Day: July 26, 2019
  • Celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

  • International Friendship Day: July 30, 2019
  • Created in 2011 by the U.N. General Assembly with the idea that friendship between people, countries and cultures can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

August

  • Lughnasadh (Lammas): August 1, 2019
  • A Pagan festivals of Celtic origin which split the year into four.

  • Hungry Ghost Festival: August 15, 2019
  • A Chinese holiday where ceremonies take place to honor dead ancestors and appease other spirits.

  • Women’s Equality Day: August 26, 2019
  • Commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.

September

  • National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month
  • Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 by celebrating the histories and cultures of their ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

  • Labor Day: September 2, 2019
  • Dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

  • Ethiopian New Year: September 12, 2019
  • Rastafarians celebrate the New Year on this date and believe that Ethiopia is their spiritual home.

  • Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Chung-ch’iu): September 13, 2019
  • A celebration where the moon is worshiped in the autumn, as it is believed the practice will bring them a plentiful harvest the next year.

  • El Día de Independencia: September 16, 2019
  • A day of celebration for people of Mexican origin to commemorate the fight for independence in 1810.

  • International Week of the Deaf: September 22-28, 2019
  • Celebrates the accomplishments of the hearing impaired community.

  • Mabon (Autumn Equinox): September 23, 2019
  • A Wiccan celebration of the beginning of the autumn season.

October

  • LGBTQIQA History Month
  • In 1994, Mr. Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher, thought a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history. He gathered teachers and leaders around the community. October was selected as the month due to previous traditions of Coming Out Day on October 11 and public schools being in session.

  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • Awareness month that educates the American public about issues related to disability and employment.

  • Native American and Indigenous Peoples Day: October 14, 2019
  • Native Americans’ Day is a public holiday in South Dakota and in Berkeley, California, instead of Columbus Day.

  • Canadian Thanksgiving: October 14, 2019
  • A chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year.

  • National Coming Out Day: October 11, 2019
  • An internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as LGTBQIQA coming out regarding one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Samhain: October 31, 2019
  • Marks the Feast of the Dead for the Pagan culture.

  • Día de los Muertos: October 31 – November 2, 2019
  • Honors the return of souls in Mexican culture.

November

  • Native American and American Indian Heritage Month
  • The month of November is dedicated to celebrating the contributions, sacrifices and achievements of the original inhabitants of the United States, the American Indian and Alaska Native people.

  • Panamanian Independence Month
  • A commemoration of the Panamanian independence.

  • Veterans Day: November 11, 2019
  • A commemoration of United States military veterans.

  • Transgender Day of Remembrance: November 20, 2019
  • A day to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming people. This day serves to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.

  • Thanksgiving: November 28, 2019
  • Commemorates the harvest celebration of the pilgrims and the Native Americans that took place in 1621.

December

  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities: December 3, 2019
  • A day to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities.

  • Human Rights Day: December 10, 2019
  • A celebration and honor of global human rights and the defenders of human rights.

  • Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 12, 2019
  • A religious holiday in Mexico commemorating the appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531.

  • Yule: December 21, 2019
  • Marks the winter solstice and celebrates the rebirth of the sun in the Norse pagan tradition.

  • Boxing Day: Decemeber 26, 2019
  • Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated on the day after Christmas Day. It originated in the United Kingdom. Boxing Day is the second day of Christmastide and also Saint Stephen’s Day. It is also celebrated as Saint Stephen’s Day in Ireland.

  • Kwanzaa: December 26, 2019 – January 1, 2020
  • A holiday that was patterned after harvest festivals in Africa. Kwanzaa derives its name from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “first fruits.” This holiday was began by Dr. Maulana Karenga.