Interfaith Calendar and Observance Policy
An interfaith reference calendar fosters dialogue and cooperation among the various religious traditions that make Stetson University a diverse and inclusive living-learning community. Students are encouraged to utilize the calendar to better support one another throughout the course of the academic year. Faculty and staff are encouraged to utilize the calendar when planning curriculum and to raise the level of discourse about matters of faith and practice. Finally, the interfaith reference calendar should remind and encourage students, faculty and staff to be mindful of the commitments of others. The observation of certain religious holidays may involve fasting, dietary changes or special celebrations that may occur during the day or in the evening.
Jewish, Islamic and Bahá'í holidays begin at sundown the night before the observance date listed, with the following day observed as the first full day of the holiday. The holiday concludes at sundown of the last day listed. Orthodox and observant conservative Jews stop all work-related activities from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday to observe Shabbat (Sabbath). Other religious traditions include similar practices. For example, Seventh-Day Adventists observe the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.
Ashura (Islam) – A day of fasting observed on the 10th day of the month of Muharram to celebrate Moses’ exodus from Egypt.
Krishna Janmashtami (Hinduism) – Celebrates Krishna's birthday, Vishnu's eighth incarnation on earth.
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition – Memorializes the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, coinciding with the anniversary of the uprising in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that initiated its abolition.
Ganesh Chaturthi (Hinduism) – Celebrates the birthday of Ganesha, the elephant deity.
Atumnal Equinox (Paganism) – Marks the first day of the season of fall. The sun shines nearly equally on both hemispheres when it’s fall in the Northern Hemisphere and simultaneously spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
Rosh Hashanah (Judaism) – Beginning of the Jewish New Year and first of the High Holy Days, which marks the beginning of a ten-day period of penitence and spiritual renewal.
Yom Kippur (Judaism) – The "Day of Atonement" marks the end of the Ten Days of Penitence that begin with Rosh Hashanah.
Sukkot (Judaism) – The week-long “Feast of Booths” commemorates the 40-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert on the way to the Promised Land.
Gur-Gaddi Guru Granth Sahib (Sikhism) – Since 1708, Sikhs have accepted Sri Guru Granth Sahib as their eternal Guru that holds the spirit of all Ten Gurus of the Sikhs. They consider Guru Granth Sahib to be a spiritual guide not only for Sikhs but for all of humankind; it plays a central role in guiding the Sikhs' way of life.
Diwali (Hinduism) – Also called Deepavali, “Festival of Lights,” it celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.
Samhain/Beltane (Wicca/Paganism) – A festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year.
All Saints' Day (Christianity) – Commemorates all known and unknown Christian saints. Eastern Christianity observes it on the first Sunday after Pentecost.
All Souls' Day (Christianity) – Commemoration of all faithful Christians who are now dead. In Mexican tradition it is celebrated as Dia de los Muertos between October 31 and November 2, and is an occasion to remember dead ancestors and celebrate the continuity of life.
Birth of Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í) – Observance of the anniversary of the birth in 1817 of Bahá'u'lláh, prophet-founder of the Bahá'í Faith, in Shíráz, Persia.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Birthday (Sikhism) – A very important holiday in the Sikh faith as Guru Nanak was the First Guru of the Sikhs and the Founder of Sikhism. He was born in mid-November; the holiday is celebrated according to the lunar date.
November 26 - December 5
Navaratri (Hinduism) – Nine-day festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil. It worships God in the form of the universal mother commonly referred to as Durga, Devi or Shakti, and marks the start of fall.
November 27 - December 24
Advent (Christianity) – Advent is a season of spiritual preparation in observance of the birth of Jesus. In Western Christianity, it starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In Eastern Christianity, the season is longer and begins in the middle of November.
Bodhi Day (Buddhism) – Also known as Rohatsu, commemorates the day that the Buddha, Siddharta Gautama, experienced enlightenment or spiritual awakening (bodhi). Celebrated on the eighth day either of December or the 12th month of the lunar calendar.
Hanukkah – (Judaism) – Eight-day "Festival of Lights," also known as Chanukah, celebrating the rededication of the Temple to the service of God in 164 BCE. Commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek King, Antiochus, who sought to suppress freedom of worship.
Winter Solstice (Paganism) – Marks the first day of the season of winter. The length of time between sunrise and sunset is the shortest of the year with the sun shining closest to the Southern Hemisphere and the farthest from the Northern Hemisphere.
Christmas Eve (Christianity) – Celebration of the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
Christmas (Western Christianity) – Commemorates the birth of Jesus. In the Orthodox Church, this holiday is also referred to as the “Feast of the Nativity” and is celebrated on January 7.
December 26 - January 1
Kwanzaa – A seven-day celebration honoring African American heritage and its continued vitality. "Kwanzaa" means "first fruits (of the harvest)" in Swahili.
Religious Observance Policy
At Stetson University, individual faculty members establish attendance policies to support academic excellence in their courses. Stetson University also supports participation in and observance of religious and spiritual practices and endeavors to make reasonable accommodation to make such participation possible. The impact on academic excellence is always the central concern of any accommodation. Students who must miss classes for religious observances are expected to discuss these absences with the instructor in advance.
Requesting Accommodation of Absences for Religious/Spiritual Reasons
Students are permitted by Stetson University policy to be absent from class to observe an established religious/spiritual holiday or observance. This policy reflects the university's commitment to supporting our inclusive community and the fullest development of our students, including their understanding of religious or spiritual beliefs and practice. Accordingly, the university has established procedures to be followed by students for notifying their instructors of an absence necessitated by the observance of a religious holiday.
Students who must miss classes to observe a specified religious/spiritual holiday or observance are expected to make prior arrangements with their instructors. Typically, this will mean an agreement to complete work in advance or soon after the absence.
Given the time limitations for completing end-of-semester assignments or making up missed final exams, this procedure cannot be used during the final exam period. All students are expected to take final examinations at the scheduled times and to complete end-of-semester work by the deadlines set by the instructor.
Drafted Feb. 8, 2013 - (includes suggestions from faculty) approved by UCCAP.