Lifestyle/Holidays and Observances

From Quiz Revision Notes

Annual holidays


5 – Twelfth Night (6 January in some calendars)

6 – Epiphany, visit of Magi to Jesus

13 – St Hilary's feast day, has gained the reputation of being the coldest day of the year

25 – Burns’ Night

26 – Australia Day

27 – Holocaust Memorial Day, celebrates the day that Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945


2 – Candlemas, festival of the purification of the Virgin Mary. The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

2 – Groundhog Day. People gather at Gobbler's Knob, a wooded knoll just outside of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. If Punxsutawney Phil sees the groundhog’s shadow, it means six more weeks of winter

6 – Waitangi Day. New Zealand’s national day, celebrating the signing of the ‘founding document’, the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840

14 – Valentine’s Day


1 – St David’s Day

8– International Women’s Day

14 – Pi day (pi is roughly 3.14)

17 – St Patrick’s Day

25 – Lady Day, feast of the annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

30 – Land Day, an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians of the events of that date in 1976

31 – Freedom Day in Malta


Record Store Day is an internationally celebrated day observed the third Saturday of April each year

19 – Primrose Day, commemorates death of Benjamin Disraeli

23 – St George’s Day

25 –ANZAC Day is commemorated by Australia and New Zealand every year to remember members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who landed at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I


First Monday in May – May Day Bank Holiday

1 – Gaelic May Day. Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when the herds of livestock were driven out to the summer pastures and mountain grazing lands

4 – Star Wars Day. ‘May the force (fourth) be with you’

8 – VE Day

Nakba Day (Arabic: meaning ‘Day of the Catastrophe’) is generally commemorated on 15 May, the day after the date for Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut). For the Palestinians it is an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948

29 – Oak Apple day. Celebrates the escape of Charles II from the Roundheads in 1651. Oak Apple Day was a holiday celebrated to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy in Britain and Ireland, in May 1660

Last Monday in May – Spring Bank Holiday. Statutory bank holiday from 1971. Replaced Whit Monday


Queen's Official Birthday is celebrated on the first, second, or third Saturday in June

12 – Russia Day is a holiday of national unity celebrated in Russia. On this day, in 1990, Russian parliament formally declared its sovereignty

14 – Falklands Liberation Day

15 – St Vitus’ Day

16 – Bloomsday, as the events in Ulysses took place on this day in 1904


1 – Canada Day

12 – public holiday in Northern Ireland, celebrating the battle of the Boyne (1690)

15 – St Swithun’s day. St Swithun was a 9th century bishop of Winchester

22 – feast day of Mary Magdalene


1 – Lammas day, the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year

1 – Yorkshire day

15 – VJ day

15 – The Feast of the Assumption, when Mary was transported into Heaven

24 – St Bartholomew’s Day

Last Monday in August – Late Summer Bank Holiday. Statutory bank holiday from 1971


15 – Battle of Britain day


3 – The Day of German Unity, which commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990

6 – Ivy Day. Commemorates death of Charles Stewart Parnell

10 – Double Ten Day is the national day of Taiwan and celebrates the start of the Wuchang Uprising of 1911

21 – Trafalgar Day

23 – between 6:02 AM and 6:02 PM – Mole Day. The time and date are derived from Avogadro's number, which is approximately 6.02×1023

25 – St Crispin’s Day. Famous for Battle of Agincourt in 1415


1 – All Saint’s Day (also known as All Hallow’s Day)

2 – All Souls’ Day. Known as ‘Day of the Dead’ in Mexico

7 – anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917

11 – Martinmas, the feast day of Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier

27 – Lancashire Day

30 – St Andrew’s Day

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day


1 – World AIDS Day. Supporters wear red ribbons

8 – Immaculate Conception day

13 – Saint Lucy's Day. Its modern day celebration is generally associated with Sweden and Norway. Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets

17 – Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the deity Saturn

25 – Christmas Day

26 – St Stephen’s Day. Celebrated on 27 December in the Eastern Church

28  – Holy Innocent’s Day. Observed in commemoration of the slaughter of male infants in Bethlehem during Herod the Great's attempt to kill the infant Jesus

31 – New Year’s Eve. Also known as St Sylvester’s night and Hogmanay. Kiribati is the first country to welcome the New Year


Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring equinox. If the first full moon lands on a Sunday, then Easter Day is the first Sunday afterwards. The formula was decided after much controversy among early Christians at the Council of Nicea in 325. The festival cannot fall earlier than 22 March or later than 25 April

Fastnacht – pre-Lenten carnival in Alemannic folklore in Switzerland, southern Germany, Alsace and western Austria. Celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday

Shrovetide – the three days, Shrove Sunday, Shrove Monday, and Shrove Tuesday, preceding Ash Wednesday

Shrove Monday, sometimes known as Collop Monday, Rose Monday, Merry Monday or Hall Monday, is the Monday before Ash Wednesday

Shrove Tuesday – tradition comes from a time where any rich foods were eaten on the day before Lent and fasting begins

Quadragesima – refers to Lent

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It occurs 46 days before Easter, but Lent is nevertheless considered 40 days long, because Sundays in this period are not counted among the days of Lent. It falls on different dates from year to year, according to the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God

The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday

Mothering Sunday – fourth Sunday (which is the middle Sunday) in Lent

Palm Sunday always falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday. The feast commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before his Passion

Holy week – week preceding Easter

Holy Saturday – between Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Low Sunday – first Sunday after Easter

Ascension Day – 40 days after Easter Sunday

Rogation Days – the three days immediately preceding Ascension Day, days of fasting

Pentecost – the seventh Sunday (50 days) after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. Also known as Whitsun

Trinity Sunday – first Sunday after Pentecost

Corpus Christi (Latin for ‘Body of Christ’) is a Christian feast in honour of the Holy Eucharist. It was originally assigned to the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. Many English-speaking countries now celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Tenebrae (Latin for 'shadows' or 'darkness') is a Christian religious service celebrated within Western Christianity on the evening before or early morning of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, which are the last three days of Holy Week. The distinctive ceremony of Tenebrae is the gradual extinguishing of candles while a series of readings and psalms is chanted or recited

US federal holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January

Birthday of Martin Luther King, third Monday in January

Washington's Birthday, third Monday in February since 1971; prior to that year, it was celebrated on the traditional date of 22 February

Memorial Day, last Monday in May since 1971; from 1868 to 1970 it was celebrated on 30 May, and was called Decoration Day for part of that time

Independence Day, 4 July

Labor Day, first Monday in September

Columbus Day, second Monday in October (federal holiday since 1971)

Veterans Day, 11 November (formerly known as Armistice)

Thanksgiving is a holiday to give thanks, traditionally to God, for the things one has at the end of the harvest season. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. First celebrated in 1863

Christmas Day, 25 December


Monday – moon day

Tuesday – named after Twr or Tiw, the Norse god of war

Wednesday – Wodin’s day

Thursday – Thor’s day

Friday – Frigg’s day (or Freya’s day)

Saturday – Saturn’s day

Sunday – sun day

Days of the week in Japan – Sunday, Moonday, Fireday, Waterday, Woodday, Goldday and Earthday

Quarter days – Lady Day (25 March), Midsummer (24 June), Michaelmas (29 September), Christmas (25 December)

Term days in Scotland – Candlemass (2 February), Whitsunday (seventh Sunday after Easter), Lammas (1 August) and Martinmas (11 November)

Ember days – four separate sets of three days within the same week, specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, that were formerly set aside for fasting and prayer

International al-Quds Day (Persian: Quds Day), is an annual event on the last Friday of Ramadan, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and opposing Zionism as well as Israel’s control of Jerusalem

Square Root Day is celebrated on days when both the day of the month and the month are the square root of the last two digits of the year. The next Square Root Day will be 4 April 2016 (4/4/16)

After the death in 1901 of Queen Victoria, her birthday, 24 May, was made an annual commemoration under the name Empire Day. In 1958 Empire Day was renamed Commonwealth Day. At the meeting of officials in Canberra in 1976, the Canadian proposal of the second Monday in March was adopted


January – derived from Janus, the Roman god of doorways

February – derived from Februa, a Sabine purification festival

March – derived from Martius, the month of Mars

April – derived from Apru, the Etruscan word for Aphrodite

May – derived from Maius, the month of Maia (wife of Vulcan)

June – derived from Juno, the wife of Jupiter

July – derived from Julius (Caesar)

August – derived from Augustus

September – derived from Septem, the seventh Roman month

October – derived from Octo, 8

November – derived from Novem, 9

December – derived from Decem, 10


The Romans calculated dates by working backwards. Each month had three key dates, the Calends (hence calendar), the Nones and the Ides. The calends were always on the first of the month

Nones – ninth day before the Ides

In the ancient Roman calendar, each of the 12 months of the year had an ‘ides’. In March, May, July and October, the ides fell on the 15th day. In every other month, the ides fell on the 13th. The ides were originally meant to mark the full moon

The Roman calendar had twelve months, but the year started around the spring equinox. Caesar decided the year should start nearer the winter solstice, so January became the first month. Quintilis and Sextilis were renamed in honour of Julius Caesar and Augustus

Mayan Calendar is known as the Long Count. Predicted the end of the world on 21 December 2012 at end of 13th b’ak’tun. 3113 BC – date of the Creation

Darian Calendar is a proposed system of time-keeping designed to serve the needs of any possible future human settlers on the planet Mars. A year is 669 days

The Ethiopian/Ge'ez calendar is like the Coptic calendar. The New Year begins in Ethiopia at 12 midnight Ethiopian Time on 12 September

The Julian calendar was introduced in 46 BC by Julius Caesar and came into force in 45 BC. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year, known at least since Hipparchus. The first leap year was 46 BC

Britain adopted Julian calendar in 597

The Gregorian calendar was first proposed by the Calabrian doctor Aloysius Lilius, and was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, for whom it was named, on 24 February 1582 via the papal bull Inter gravissimas. Years in the calendar are numbered from the traditional birth year of Jesus. Great Britain did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752; by which time it was necessary to correct by eleven days (2 September 1752 being followed by 14 September 1752). A few years later, when the son of the Earl of Macclesfield ran for a seat in Parliament, dissatisfaction with the calendar reforms was one of a number of issues raised by his Tory opponents. In 1755, William Hogarth made a painting loosely based on these elections, in which the campaign slogan ‘Give us our Eleven Days’ appears

Most nations of Western Europe officially adopted 1 January as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. In England, until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, the first day of the new year was the Catholic Feast of the Annunciation, on 25 March, also called Lady Day