With the passing of Easter, I was thinking about the multiple holidays for Protestant Christians and Theravada Buddhist. I know all the Christian holidays, but I don’t know much about the Buddhist holidays. Below, is the collective list, in chronological order, of the Protestant Christian (C) and Buddhist (B) holidays that I observe in one fashion or another.
(C) – January 1st – New Year’s Day – This isn’t a religious holiday, but it is the New Year for people in the Christian world and those who use the Gregorian calendar.
(B) – Anytime between mid-January and mid-February – Lunar New Year’s Day – This is somewhat a religious holiday, due to the very strong cultural bonds with celebrating the New Year. Buddhist, which tend to be Asian in decent, use the Lunar calendar.
(B) – Full moon day of the third lunar month (this year February 7th) – Magha Puja (Sangha Day)– Also called Fourfold Assembly, this day is a festival for observance of a special event that happened nine months after Buddhas’ Enlightenment. The event occurred as followed: There were 1,250 monks, that came to see and learn from the Buddha. The Buddha gave them the principles of Buddhism called “The Ovadhapatimokha” (To cease from all evil; To do what is good; and To cleanse one’s mind). This occurred on a full moon. Laypeople (non-monks) often walk around a shrine or Buddha image three times as a gesture of respect for the Three Jewels – the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
(C) – Sunday before Easter – Palm Sunday – Palm Sunday represent the arrive of Jesus in Jerusalem the week before he was put to death on the cross.
(C) – Friday before Easter – Good Friday – Good Friday commemorated the day that Jesus was beaten by the Romans and hung on the Cross for crucifixion.
(C) – Sunday sometime between March 22nd – April 25 – Easter – Easter celebrated the resurrection (rising from the dead) of Jesus three days after he was beaten and hung on the cross by the Romans.
(B) – Different day every year – June 4th, 2012 – Vesakha Puja (Buddha’s birth, Enlightenment and Death) – Vesakha Puja is sometimes spelled Vesak and occurs on a different day every year. Vesakha Puja commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and passing into Nirvana of the historical Buddha.
(B) – On the full moon of the eighth lunar month in July – Asalha Puja – Also known as Dharma Day, Asalha Puja commemorates the first sermon of the Buddha, the Dhammacakkappavttan Sutta. In this sermon, the Buddha explained his doctrine of the Four Noble Truths.
(B) – Three months between July and October – Vassa – Vassa or the Rains Retreat, begins the day after Asalha Puja and ends three months later. During Vassa, monks stay in monasteries and intensely meditation. Laypeople take part in Vassa by bringing food, candles and other necessities to monks to support them during this time. They also sometimes give up eating meat, smoking, or luxuries during Vassa, which is why Vassa is sometimes called the Buddhist Lent, comparative to the Catholics lent. Vassa is the end of the three-month period.
(C) – 4th Thursday of November – Thanksgiving – United States holiday in which people Christian and non-Christian like, give thanks to God for the food He provided through the autumn harvest. This was first observed when the Native-Americans (Indians) aided the pilgrims harvest corn for the first time.
(C) – December 25th – Christmas Day – The observed day for the birthday of Jesus to Virgin Mary. I say observed day, because no one knows the actual day Jesus was born.
(C) Every Sunday – Every Sunday of the year is devoted to resting the body and worshiping God. Like the Jewish culture, Christians call this day the Sabbath. Most Christians go to church on this day.
(B) The four phases of the moon (full, new, and the two quarter) – Uposatha – Uposatha is equivalent to the Christian Sunday church services. Monks rededicate themselves to meditation and study, confess their faults and the ancient monastic rules are recited. For laypeople (non-monk Buddhist), Uposatha are days for bringing offerings to the temple, where they may also meditate and listen to dharma talks.
Note: This is not an extensive list of Christian and Buddhist holidays. I only put the holidays that I, as a Protestant Christian and a Theravada Buddhist, would observe. Catholics and Zen Buddhist, etc. have many more holidays that are not listed.