February seems to be food month for many of the world’s religions – either as part of the celebration of the transition from Winter to Spring, or the feasts marking beginning or end of a period of fasting. Here’s your interfaith calendar for February; dates are shown using the Gregorian (Western) calendar. Some dates may vary regionally because they are determined by the lunar calendar. Jewish festivals usually begin at sunset on the previous day.
Also known as the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, it marks the day that Mary took Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
Imbolc / Oimelc / Candlemass (Pagan)
Celebration of the changing of the seasons and the growing strength of the sun
Rissun / Setsuban (Shinto)
The Festival of the change of the season from Winter to Spring, celebrated by the scattering of beans in the home and the temple.
Milad un Nabi / Mawlid an Nabi (Muslim)
The birth of the Prophet Muhammed is celebrated today by large numbers of Sunni Muslims. Because it is also the date of his death, it is considered a quiet holiday, and is marked by the retelling of stories about the Prophet Muhammed’s life by parents to their children.
Magha Puja (Buddhist)
Also known as Fourfold assembly day.
Parinirvana – Nirvana Day (Buddhist)
Marks the anniversary of Buddha’s death and his achievement of nirvana (enlightenment) at the age of 80.
Tu B’Sherat (Jewish)
The Jewish celebration of Spring, the ‘New Year for Trees’, and a day when ‘fruits’ associated with the Torah often eaten, namely wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.
Milad un Nabi / Mawlid (Muslim)
The marking of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammed for Shia Muslims.
Our Lady of Lourdes (Christian)
Marks the first time the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette in a vision (1858).
St Valentine’s Day (Christian, Secular)
First celebrated in 496, this festival is historically associated with fertility, and is now seen worldwide as a day to celebrate love. It is often marked by the sending of anonymous cards and gifts to loved ones.
Nirvana Day (Buddhist)
Alternate date to the 8th February.
The festival honoring Shiva, one of the Deities of the Hindu Trinity. It is traditionally celebrated by overnight fasting, and the dedication of food prepared from seasonal fruits and vegetable, which are then eaten for ‘break fast’ the next morning.
Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day / Mardi Gras (Christian / Secular)
Marks the day before Lent begins, and is derived from the ancient ritual of ‘shriving’ – confession sins. The practice of eating pancakes comes from the need to use up perishable foods before the 40 days of Lenten fasting begins. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) has the same origins.
Ash Wednesday (Christian)
The first day of Lent, traditionally marked by fasting to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.
Clean Monday (Christian Orthodox)
The beginning of Great Lent in the Christian Orthodox calendar.