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Religious Holidays on the Block Plan Letter 2020-2021

Dear Campus Community,

As in previous academic years, the Chaplain's Office will continue to provide the campus community information about religious holidays on the Block Plan:

  • Sending updates twice a year to remind the campus of dates for annual observances: in the late spring/early summer for those of you who like to plan ahead, and at the beginning of Block 1.
  • Providing information about religious holidays on the Chaplain's Office website.

If you have additional ideas about how we can be helpful, please let the Chaplain's Office know.

Religious Diversity and Inclusion:

Colorado College strives to be a diverse community of discovery and learning. As such, we seek to create an environment that is open to and supportive of a wide range of religious traditions. Observance of religious holidays can pose significant challenges to our community due to our academic schedule. In the past, students have spoken of CC faculty who were either unaware of the holidays or hesitant to let students make alternative arrangements to complete class assignments. The distinctive pressures of the Block Plan make some students hesitant to celebrate these important holidays. It can be especially difficult for first-year students away from family and their home communities for the first time. Likewise, faculty report students who fail to communicate their needs in a clear and timely manner as well as having to choose between conflicting roles as responsible teacher or person of faith. Campus-wide meetings unintentionally scheduled on major religious holidays lead to feelings of exclusion and frustration. The intensity of the Block Plan amplifies these problems experienced by most other campuses. 

Our community continues to move toward overcoming these challenges by working together. Freedom of religious expression and celebration is an important value at Colorado College.  The Chaplain's Office staff is glad to partner with you to support and ensure Colorado College's commitment to respect the observance of religious holidays by individual members of our community.  As faculty, you can help by asking if students are affected by religious holidays and by providing reasonable alternatives to these days to complete tests, papers, or projects. You can also consider offering flexible deadlines for required class sessions near the time of breaking fasts for specific holidays that require fasting, so there is not undue burden to students. As students, you can talk to your professors well ahead of time to communicate your need for accommodations and make arrangements for completing all work.  Staff, faculty, and student leaders can pay attention to and be mindful of the religious holiday calendar when planning and scheduling meetings and campus events. All of us can be supportive of an inclusive, welcoming approach to religious and spiritual life at Colorado College. 

Specific Traditions and Sacred Days:
*In this the letter we try to group sacred days within the same tradition together and organize the paragraphs related to where their first holiday falls within the academic calendar. Some paragraphs have multiple traditions, thus the dates might not be perfectly in flow in chronos time and religion and spirituality embraces expansive notions of time which we hope you will too with this letter.

During the 2020-21 academic year, Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year and the Day of Judgment) begins at sundown on Friday, Sept. 18, and ends at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 20, during block break 1. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement and Reconciliation), which is a day of fasting from sundown to sundown, begins the evening of Sunday, Sept. 27, and ends at sundown on Monday, Sept. 28, which is during week 2 of Block 2. Depending on personal practice and family traditions, students typically may celebrate High Holidays using one, two, or all three days to attend synagogue and to spend time in personal reflection, with their families, or with the Jewish community. Passover will begin at sundown on Sunday, March 27, 2021, during block break 6, and ends at sundown on Sunday, April 4, at the end of the first week of Block 7. Students can learn about information for religious services by contacting Kobi Chumash, coordinator of Jewish life.

During the academic year there are many ceremonial and ritual observances Indigenous/Native American tribes and communities observe. Depending on personal, family, and communal practices, students may choose to go home during these ceremonies and/or find ways, when possible, to observe them on campus. Indigenous/Native American students, staff, faculty, and guests who wish to engage in smudging and/or pipe ceremonies throughout the year while on campus are welcome to participate in these spiritual practices at CC. The college asks that those who wish to do so please submit a Ceremonial Use Notification Form. To learn more, go here: college's smudging policyDebbie Howell, campus elder-in-residence, is available for community support.

Among the most prominent Hindu holidays during the academic year are Navaratri, nine nights venerating the Goddess, from Oct. 17 through the night of Oct. 24, 2020, during block break 2 and Block 3 and Diwali, a Festival of Lights celebrating Goodness, on Sunday, Nov. 14, during block break 3. Holi, a spring of colors festival signifying victory of good over evil, will take place on Monday, March 29, during week one of Block 7.

Within the Jain tradition, Paryushana Parva, focused on fasting, studying sacred texts, and renewal of faith, starts at sundown on Sept. 20 for 8-10 days, at the end of block break 1 and into the first week of Block 2. Earth-based practices such as Wiccan and Neo-Pagan honor Samhain on Saturday, Oct. 31, Imbolc on Feb. 2, Beltane on May 1, as well as the solstices and equinoxes. The spiritual holiday Día de los Muertos, connected to Meso-American/Indigenous/Christian, Catholic traditions, happens Saturday, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, at the beginning of week 3 Block 3. Within the Bahá'í tradition, the Birth of Bab takes place over block break 2, starting at sundown on Oct. 17-18, followed a month later with the Birth of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Bahá'í faith, on Sunday, Nov. 12, during block break 3. 'AIá' (month of fasting) starts March 1-March 19 during Block 6. The Sikh festival of Vaisakhi takes place on April 13, 2021, during week 3 of Block 7.

Buddhists celebrate the Buddha's enlightenment (Bodhi Day) on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Block 4 and remember the Buddha's passing (Nirvana Day) on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, during week three of Block 5. Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, which can be important to Confucians, Taoists, and Buddhists alike, is on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in the second week of Block 5. Visakah Puja, Buddha Day which celebrates Buddha's birthday, is on April 8 in 2021, in many countries, though some dates may vary depending on region.

During J Block, the Christian Orthodox Feast of the Nativity will happen on Thursday, January 7. Christian Catholic and Protestant observance of Ash Wednesday and beginning of the liturgical season of Lent, will fall on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 in week 3 of Block 5. Good Friday and Easter, which remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, occur on Friday, April 2, and Sunday, April 4, during week 1 of Block 7. The Christian Orthodox Great Lent falls on Monday, March 15, week 3 of Block 6. Holy Friday and Easter fall on Friday, April 30, and Sunday, May 2, in 2021, at the end of week 1 Block 8. Throughout the year there are various feast days and Holy Days of Obligation for which Christian students from the Catholic and Orthodox traditions may seek accommodation.

Ramadan is only one of many important religious holidays in Islam. Next year, Eid al Adha, which celebrates the Feast of the Sacrifice, will occur close to July 19, 2021. Muslims observe the lunar month of Ramadan by daily fasting, communal fast-breaking, Qur'an recitation, and personal reflection. In 2021, Ramadan is anticipated to begin at sundown on Tuesday, April 12, week 3, Block 7, and end around May 11, in week 3 of Block 8 in North America. When Ramadan falls within the academic calendar, the Chaplain's Office works with identified students to arrange food they can consume prior to sunup and after sundown as well as community-wide gatherings for support and celebration. During Ramadan, it is important to be aware that some students, staff, and faculty will be fasting from sunrise to sundown. Eid al Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan, will occur in 2021 at sunset around May 12. Contact Chaplain Kate Holbrook in the Chaplain's Office with specific questions regarding dietary needs.

While this memo includes the most common requests for accommodation, it does not include all holidays, sacred, holy, and festival days. Students from other religious traditions may ask for similar consideration. Please check out the following calendars as helpful resources:

Chaplain's Office Religious Holiday Calendar

Interfaith/Multi-year Calendar

*To download the Religious Holidays Calendar.ics for your Outlook calendar Mac or PC, please visit Chaplain's Office Religious Holiday Calendar 

For more information regarding specific religious holidays and communities, dietary needs, and/or other questions related to spiritual and religious expression on campus, please contact Chaplain Kate Holbrook or at (719) 389-7986.


The Chaplain's Office

Report an issue - Last updated: 01/20/2021