Holidays

Religious holidays are important events for valuable members of the RIT community. Students may request accommodations to observe these holidays. RIT policy D04.0 Attendance states: "Absences, for whatever reason, do not relieve students of their responsibility for fulfilling normal requirements in any course. In particular, it is the student's responsibility to make individual arrangements in advance of missing class due to personal obligations such as religious holidays, ...in order that he or she may meet his or her obligations without penalty for missing class."

Fall 2021 Observances & Holidays

Holiday

Community

Date

Jumu'ah Salat Prayers

Muslim

Every Friday 1:00 - 2:00pm

Shabbat

Jewish

Sundown Fridays - Sundown Saturdays

Rosh Hashanah Jewish September 6-8, 2021
Yom Kippur Jewish September 15-16, 2021
Mabon Pagan September 21, 2021
Sukkot Jewish September 20-27, 2021
Shemini Atzeret Jewish September 27, 2021
Simchat Torah Jewish September 28-29, 2021
Navarati Hindu October 7-15, 2021
Dusshera Hindu October 15, 2021
Samhain Pagan Oct. 31 - Nov. 1, 2021
All Saint's Day Catholic November 1, 2021
Dia de Los Muertos Mexican November 1-2, 2021
Diwali Hindu November 4, 2021

Spring 2022 Observances & Holidays

Holiday

Community

Date

Tu B'Shvat

Jewish

January 16-17, 2022

Maha Shivaratri

Hindu

March 1, 2022

Lent

Christian

March 2 - April 14, 2022

Ash Wednesday

Christian

March 2, 2022

Palm Sunday

Christian

April 10, 2022

Maundy Thursday

Christian

April 14, 2022

Good Friday

Christian

April 15, 2022

Holy Saturday

Christian

April 16, 2022

Easter Christian April 17, 2022
Purim Jewish March 16-17, 2022
Holi Hindu March 19, 2022
Ostara/Spring Equinox Pagan March 20, 2022
Passover Jewish April 15-23, 2022
Ramadan Muslim April 2 - May 2, 2022
Ram Navami Hindu April 10, 2022

Holiday Descriptions

  • Jumu’ah Salat Prayers (Muslim Observance)

    On Fridays, Muslims like to come together to observe the mid-day prayer together. This prayer is called Jumu’ah Salat and usually occurs just after noon. Both Sunni and Shia (or Shiite or Shi’i) Muslims recognize this as a religious obligation for all healthy, adult Muslims. Friday is not a sabbath day or day off, but Muslims take enough time to attend the congregational prayer before returning to worldly obligations. This prayer includes the daily midday prayer as well as a two-part sermon or khutbah delivered by an imam or prayer leader, with a pause between the two parts to allow for du’a or personal prayer. This is an important time for Muslims to learn about the Quran, from which the imam (a learned scholar, as Islam has no clergy) reads a verse, and how to apply it to daily life. In Muslim countries, Friday is often a day off work, but in the United States it can be difficult to observe Jumu’ah Salat and this has been hard on Muslim students and communities. RIT holds Jumu’ah Salat every week from 1:00 to 2:00 pm in the Skalny Room of the Schmitt Interfaith Center.

    Students may request a religious accommodation to attend Friday prayers. This may include enrolling in an alternative class or lab section, if available, that does not overlap with Friday prayers, leaving a few minutes early or arriving a few minutes late, switching from a Friday shift to a different day of the week, or rescheduling a meal break to coincide with prayer times. Students are responsible to make these requests in advance and develop alternatives to ensure that academic work and other obligations are met appropriately.

    Students may request religious accommodations for other daily prayers (salat), which occur at sunrise, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night, and change times slightly throughout the year. These prayers are shorter and can be conducted in any quiet, out-of-the-way space. Most days, students can pray between classes, unless a particularly long class (3 hours or more) is scheduled. In this case or in the case of a long work shift, they may ask for the break to occur at a time and length sufficient for prayer (about 15 minutes). Students are responsible to make these requests in advance and develop alternatives to ensure that academic work and other obligations are met.

  • Shabbat

    Shabbat is a weekly Jewish holiday that commemorates the last day of creation, on which God rested. Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday and continues through Saturday until the point there are 3 stars in the sky (about 25-26 hours). Shabbat is observed through the lighting of candles, prayer services on Friday and Saturday, a celebratory meal, and abstaining from work during the period of Shabbat. Depending on denomination, work can include activities such as driving, using electricity, or even carrying objects outside one’s home. Observance of Shabbat can be as varied and dynamic as the Jewish community itself and each person’s observance is based off the traditions and interpretations they are most comfortable with.

    Students requesting religious accommodations for Shabbat are most likely looking to be able to follow the commandment to abstain from work or participate in Shabbat Services. This should not be interpreted as an attempt to get extensions or avoid completing class work in a timely fashion. An easy way to accommodate this need is to avoid scheduling due dates for Friday and Saturday evenings. In a situation where a deadline is scheduled for such a time, please ensure any MyCourses drop box or similar submission tool is open early enough for students to submit their work before Shabbat begins. In September, Shabbat begins around 7:00 pm, but this time is closer to 4:00 pm by the end of November as sundown becomes earlier. Students may also seek to avoid having classes or meetings scheduled for Friday evenings or during the day on Saturday.

  • Fall Equinox / Mabon (Pagan Holiday)

    Fall equinox, also known as the autumnal equinox, September equinox, or Mabon, is the moment in time when the Sun stands directly above the equator and day and night are of approximately equal length. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere it marks the beginning of Fall. For many pagans it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings. It’s a time of plenty, of gratitude and of sharing our abundance with those less fortunate. It is a time for gathering with other pagans to celebrate the coming of Fall. Rituals and ceremonies will either focus on the second harvest aspect or the balance between light and dark.

    There are no requirements for pagans to take off for work or school for this holiday though pagan students may wish to attend a ritual when it is being offered. The ritual offerings are not always on the exact day of the holiday. Rituals may be held on that day or surrounding days. Students may request an accommodation to attend this event.

  • Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

    Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (often referred to together as the Jewish High Holidays) are two of the two most important Jewish holidays that mark the beginning of the Jewish year. Abstaining from work is an aspect of observing both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah marks the Jewish New Year and is a time of both celebration and introspection. In 2021, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Monday, September 6th and continues through nightfall on Wednesday, September 8th. Rosh Hashanah is observed through participation in multiple prayer services as well as gathering with friends and family to celebrate the New Year.

    Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, begins 7 days after the end or Rosh Hashanah. It is a day for prayer, contemplation, and seeking forgiveness both from each other and from God. Like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur is marked with several prayer services, but unlike Rosh Hashanah, there is also a 25 hour fast that goes for the duration of the holiday. Yom Kippur ends with a gathering to break the fast on Thursday evening. (There is also a pre fast meal before the fast begins)

    Jewish students requesting accommodations for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are likely looking for excused absences from some or all of their classes and possibly alternative test dates. Some students may be comfortable attending classes when services are not occurring but please avoid making assumptions about the observance practices of students in the same class, as there is diversity among Jewish practices. Whenever possible, please avoid scheduling exams during either holiday. Dates and times for services and gatherings will be announced via message center closer to the holidays.

  • Sukkot

    Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish holiday that commemorates the time ancient Israelites spent wandering in the desert. Often called the Festival of Booths, Sukkot is marked by the construction and use of a Sukkah, a temporary hut-like structure. Jews are commanded to “dwell” in the Sukkah which includes sitting, eating, studying, and even sleeping in a sukkah. At RIT, Hillel constructs a Sukkah on the Greek Lawn that all are welcome to use. Sukkot is also a harvest festival and a time for celebrating what one has, as well as welcoming and connecting to one’s community, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Sukkot is the beginning of Z'man Simchateinu, the time of our joy, and is to be observed through unconditional and continuous celebration.

    Work is prohibited on the first two days of Sukkot, just like on Shabbat and several other Holidays; this may include use of electricity for some students. Jewish students requesting accommodations for Sukkot are likely looking for excused absences from some or all of their classes and possibly alternative test dates. If any assignments are during the period of Sukkot, please ensure that the any MyCourses drop box or similar submission tool is open early enough for students to submit their work before the period of no work begins. In 2021, this period for Sukkot begins at sundown on Monday, September 20th and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, September 22nd.

  • Shmini Atzeret & Simchat Torah

    Shmini Atzeret marks the end of the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot. It differs from all other days of Sukkot because prayers for rain as well a memorial service are added to the normal daily service. Shimini Atzeret is immediately followed by Simchat Torah, a holiday that celebrates the yearly completion and new beginning of the reading of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and begins the cycle anew. Traditionally, the entire Torah scroll is unrolled and use to encircle the community and then the scroll is rolled back to the beginning.

    Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are both days of no work, and like on Shabbat and several other Holidays, this may include use of electricity for some students. Jewish students requesting accommodations for Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are likely looking for excused absences from some or all of their classes and possibly alternative test dates. If any assignments are during this period, please ensure that the any MyCourses drop box or similar submission tool is open early enough for students to submit their work before the period begins.

  • Navaratri and Dusshera

    Navaratri is a ten day and nine night Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn. The most common reason for the festival is to celebrate the divine feminine and venerate the deity Durga. Navaratri is celebrated through re-enactment of the victory of particular gods or goddesses (depending on region) over the forces of evil, with elaborate stage decorations, and chanting of Hindu scriptures. This is often accompanied by the celebration of various crops and harvest. The final day is called Dusshera and statues are either washed or immersed in a body of water such as a river or ocean.

    Students may request an accommodation for time off from class or work to attend a religious rite or festival associated with Navaratri.

  • Samhain

    This is the final harvest holiday for pagans and is also a time to honor those who have passed beyond the veil. Many pagans build altars in honor of ancestors, family and friends who have died and hold all night vigils. It is considered the most sacred holiday for those who follow the Pagan path. A feast for the dead on Samhain night is also a common occurrence for pagans. Those who hold vigils as part of their tradition may need to ask for accommodations.

  • Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

    Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a major holiday throughout Latin America that results from a combination of indigenous ritual and Catholicism. It honors the dead with lively festivals, memorial altars, dancing, parades, and food. It is believe that on this day the dead rejoin their communities and wish to celebrate with their loved ones.

    RIT will once again be constructing a Dia de los Muertos altar in the Schmitt Interfaith Center to commemorate the Day of the Dead. Students, faculty, and staff are invited to leave flowers, pictures (please only leave copies as they may not be returned), or names of their loved ones on the altar during this time.

  • All Saints’ Day

    All Saints' Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Church, and some Lutheran and other Protestant Churches, though it is not observed by all Christians, particularly Evangelical Protestants. It is celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls' Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.

    Students may request an accommodation to miss class or work in order to attend a service or mass.

  • Diwali

    Diwali, sometimes known as Divali or Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of lights. The festival lasts five days and frequently starts with cleaning and decorating, followed by puja offerings and cooking, and culminates in feasts, parades, fireworks, and gifts. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The festival is associated with Lakshmi, who is the goddess of prosperity, but different regions may venerate and include different deities, including Sita, Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, Yama, Yami, Durga, and Kali. The festival involves serving sweets like ladoo in the celebratory mood.

    Celebrations will be held at the Hindu Temple of Rochester with a Deepavali Lakshmi Puja on November 4 at 7:00 pm and students may request a religious accommodation of time off from class or work in order to attend.