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Events of the Month

2003-JANUARY


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  • JAN-1: We continue in the UN-declared Decade for a Culture of Peace.

  • JAN-1: This is the final day of the week-long, inter-faith celebration of Kwanza (a.k.a. Kwanzaa, Quansa) - a cultural holiday celebrating African-American heritage. "Kwanza" is a Swahili word for "the first," or "the first fruits of the harvest". The seven principles of Kwanza are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. 1

  • JAN-1: This is the third New Year's day of the new millennium. (The last year of the 20th century ended at midnight, in the evening of 2000-DEC-31). This is primarily a secular holiday.

  • JAN-1: The first day of a Zoroastrian four day festival of Ghambar Maidyozarem, which recalls the birthday of the last of the human gurus in 1666 CE.  It commemorates God's creation of the sky and the harvesting of winter crops.

  • JAN-1 to 3:  Shogatsu (a.k.a. Gantan-sai) is the most important holiday in Japan. It is celebrated by followers there of both Shinto and Buddhism. In Japan, each new year is traditionally regarded as a fresh start; JAN-1 is believed to be representative of the entire year to follow. 2
  • JAN-5: Sikhs celebrate the Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh. He was the tenth Guru of the Sikh Panth, and particularly remembered for his battles for religious freedom, and his teachings of the equality of all individuals. 3
  • JAN-6: The western Christian church celebrates Epiphany every year on this day. This recalls the visitation of an unknown number of Zoroastrian astrologers from Persia to Jesus after his birth. The day is associated with the baptism of Jesus by the Eastern Orthodox churches.
  • JAN-7: Most Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on this day. They continue to use the Julian calendar, which is currently offset by 13 days from the more commonly used Gregorian calendar. The gap between the calendars continues to grow.
  • JAN-13 or 14  Sikhs observe Maghi  (a.k.a. Makara Sankranti), the first day of the month of Magh. It recalls the the Chali Mukte, (literally, the Forty Liberated Ones), who died protecting Guru Gobind Singh.
  • JAN-14: Most Orthodox churches celebrate New Years on this date.
  • JAN-16: National Religious Freedom Day is intended to broaden awareness of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom - the first law in the history of western civilization which protected religious freedom for all persons. It promotes religious freedom worldwide. Celebrations occur on or before JAN-16. 6
  • JAN-18: This is the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is held on the dates proposed in 1908 by Paul Watson: from the feast of St. Peter on JAN-18 until the feast of St. Paul on JAN-25. 8 Churches in the Southern hemisphere schedule the week at other times. The week promotes unity within the Christian faith.
  • JAN-18: Tu B'shevat: This is a Jewish holiday, "The New Year of the Trees," which celebrates the coming of spring. Trees are planted, and foods native to Israel are prepared.
  • JAN-19: This is World Religion Day. The Baha'i Faith created this observance to promote interfaith understanding and cooperation. The celebrations emphasize common factors seen in all of the world's great religions.
  • JAN-19: Sanctity of Human Life 2003 is observed at different times:
    • Some conservative Christian groups observe it as a one-day celebration on the Sunday nearest to the JAN-22 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which legalized access to early abortions. President Bush declared JAN-19 the "National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2003." 13
       
    • Others celebrate it on the third Sunday in January.
    • Focus on the Family suggests that it last for a week, and include both the third and fourth Sundays in January (JAN-19 to JAN-26 this year).

    This is a pro-life activity based on the belief that human personhood begins at conception. 7

  • JAN-20: This holiday is held on the third Monday in January celebrates the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the only American besides George Washington to have a national holiday designated on his birthday. 4 After passing overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives, the Senate defied efforts by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) to sidetrack the legislation, and approved the measure by a vote of 78 to 22. King is perhaps best known for his "I have a dream" speech, delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on 1963-AUG-28 -- a dream that has yet to be fully realized. 5 His actual birthday was JAN-17.
  • JAN-22: On this date in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their Roe v. Wade decision which legalized, but did not guarantee, abortion access throughout the United States. Pro-life groups observe this day as the start of murder on a massive scale of unborn babies by means of abortion. Pro-choice groups celebrate the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade as a major victory for the rights of women to control their own bodies.
  • JAN-24: Zoroastrians celebrate Jashan Sadeh, their mid-winter festival. It honors the element of fire which is sacred in the Zoroastrian faith.
  • JAN-26: This is Super-Bowl Sunday. It is also called the "day of dread" by some women, because of the rumor that spousal assaults reach an annual peak on this weekend. This "Super Bowl statistic remains a widely-cited and believed piece of misinformation." 12 There is no reliable data to support the belief. However, some Canadian researchers found that traffic fatalities have traditionally been significantly higher on this day than on adjacent Sundays.
  • JAN-27: This is 58th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, which had been constructed by the Nazis during World War II to permit the mass extermination of Jews, Poles and other people that the Nazis considered sub-human.
  • JAN-29: Hindus and some Muslims in Northern India observe Basant Panchami (a.k.a. Vasanta Panchami & Magh Sukla Panchami) during the month of Magh (January-February). This celebrates the first day of spring. Yellow colored clothes are traditionally worn; yellow is a sign of auspiciousness and spirituality. Hindus worship the sun, Mother Gang, the Goddess Saraswathi, the Deity of the sacred river Ganges and of wisdom and learning. 10

Celebrations coming in early 2003-FEB:

  • FEB-1: This is the Chinese Spring Festival, known in the West as the Chinese New Year. The date of the start of the festival is established by a lunar/solar calendar and thus varies from late January to mid February. It lasts for three days. This is the year of the sheep or ram. It is the year 4701, 4700, or 4640 by the Chinese lunar calendar; sources differ. 11
  • FEB-2: Imbolc is one of four major Wiccan sabbats (seasonal days of celebration). It literally means "in the belly." It looks forward to warmer weather coming later in the year.

  • FEB-2: Four Chaplain's Sunday is a Christian/Jewish Interfaith celebration. It recalls an event during World War II when four Chaplains, both Jews and Christians gave away their life jackets to soldiers when a troop ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean.

  • FEB-4:  Hindus celebrate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti (1863 to 1902). He spread the message of Hinduism to the West, and greatly influenced leaders of the Indian independence movement.


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Although care was taken in the preparation of this list, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or their consequences.


References:

  1. Kwanzaa Information Center at: http://melanet.com/kwanzaa/ 

  2. "New Year (Shogatsu)," at: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2064.html

  3. "Guru Gobind Singh Ji," at: http://www.yorku.ca/org/yssa/Ngobind.htm 

  4. "Martin Luther King, Jr," at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/mlk/ 

  5. "I have a dream," at: http://web66.coled.umn.edu/new/MLK/MLK.html 

  6. Council for America's First Freedom at http://www.firstfreedom.org/

  7. "Sanctity of human life 2001 resources," at: http://www.family.org/pregnancy/general/

  8. "The week of prayer for Christian unity 2003," at: http://www.wcc-coe.org/

  9. "World religion day," at: http://www.worldreligionday.com/

  10. "Vasanta Panchami," at: http://travel.indiamart.com/fairs-festivals/

  11. "Chinese New Year Lunar Calendar," at: http://www.chinapage.com/newyear.html

  12. "Super Bull Sunday," snopes.com, at:  http://www.snopes2.com/science/stats/superbwl.htm
  13. "National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2003 By the President of the United States of America: A Proclamation," at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/

Although care was taken in the preparation of this list, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or their consequences.


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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Essay prepared on 2003-FEB-4
Latest update: 2003-FEB-18
Compiled by B.A. Robinson

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