Guidance for C-Term High Holy Days

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Chengdu - Lantern Festival at Jinli

Guidance for C-Term High Holy Days 

Holy Days or Days of Awe are observed across religious and spiritual traditions. These dates and periods of observance mark sacred time in the practices of those who hold identities around religious and religio-cultural traditions. For our campus community, we strive to make the Holy Days Calendar and guidance as accurate as possible and to describe the holy days, their significance, and the nature of observance correctly. If you find a mistake, please let the Collegiate Religious Center know by email diversity@wpi.edu

During C-Term, we recommend a few Holy days in which no major University sponsored events should be scheduled.

For our Interfaith and religio-cultural community, Lunar New Year (February 9-15) can be a secular, religious or cultural celebration. It is often associated with East Asian traditions. The Lunar New Year is the first day of the month of the lunar calendar. It kicks off the 15-day Spring Festival that marks the end of winter. At the end of the Spring Festival is the Lantern Festival, a community time of celebration when children carry lanterns in parades and fireworks are set off. Traditional celebration includes food and celebration with friends and family. 

We also have a few recommendations for supporting the WPI Community:  

  • WPI community members may enjoy a New Year’s celebration by sharing foods and customs. 
  • Avoid major events on *the second day of Lunar New Year, which is typically spent with family.  

For our Hindu Community, Maha Shiv Ratri (March 7-8) is one of the most important sectarian Indian festivals for Hindus. This is the day when the marriage of Shiva and Shakti is celebrated. The celebration involves all-night worship the night before, fasting on the day, prayer, and vigil. 

We also have a few recommendations for supporting the WPI Community:  

  • Encourage stories from employees and students about how they observe. 
  • Hindu students/employees observing may be fasting, and/or schedule time off for temple visits and other celebrations. 

For our Christian Community, Ash Wednesday (February 14) will commemorate the period of time leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Ash Wednesday will begin this period of The Great Lent (February 14 – March 30) celebrated by Christians. Orthodox Christians and Western Christians share the belief that Jesus is believed to be the Savior, the Son of God. This period of time is a time of fasting and repentance in remembrance of the account of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. People will enter into a time of contemplation, which can include a conscious review of spiritual life and journey. Classes will be held during the Lenten SeasonStudents and employees are likely to abstain from eating and drinking during the day from dawn to sunset. With this lifestyle change, changes in sleeping, eating, and physical activity levels are consequently affected. The Lenten Season ends with Easter celebrations ((C) – March 31th, (P) - March 31th (O) May 5th)) and students are likely to travel home or off campus during the sacred time. 

We also have a few recommendations for supporting the WPI Community: 

  • Be aware that many people may fast or give up certain foods or activities during Great Lent. This may not be a good time for large celebrations centered on food. 
  • If food is provided, vegetarian and pescatarian options are advised.
  • Some Orthodox Christians may observe Ash Wednesday.

For our Islam community, Ramadan (*predicted March 10) begins the holy month. Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar. It is a month of fasting, worship, service, communal gathering, and spiritual development. Classes will be held during the Ramadan Season, and students and employees are likely to abstain from eating and drinking during the day from dawn to sunset, eating only within a short overnight period. With this lifestyle change, changes in sleeping, eating, and physical activity levels are consequently affected. Some may declare the month to begin a day before or after the predicted date. Likewise, the holiday commemorating the end of fasting, most often called Eid al-Fitr (*predicted April 8-10th) may fall on different days according to varying family, cultural, or interpretive preferences in D-Term. We also have a few recommendations for supporting the WPI Community:  

  • Be aware when Ramadan begins and ends. 
  • Assuming they are in good health, Muslim staff members, faculty members and students may be fasting during Ramadan. It is good to bear this in mind when planning activities, parties, etc., that involve food or beverages. 
  • Muslims may want to pray more frequently during Ramadan, so providing a private space for prayer is important. Many may want to take time off for the conclusion of Ramadan, called Eid al-Fitr. This is a time of celebration with gift giving and traditional foods. 
  • Muslim students/employees will fast during daylight hours, which may result in less stamina. 
  • Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, and activities on Eid al-Fitr. 
  • For evening events, provide food accommodations as requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).  

While there are Holy Days during C-Term, these are a few we recommend avoiding in your scheduling. Although students are not automatically excused from class for observance, they may work with their course instructors to make accommodations. Faculty/Staff members may request paid time off for these observances. Supervisors are highly encouraged to support their preference to take leave for their religious observance.  

Most importantly, communication is key. The best thing community members can do is to ask how to support individuals observing a holiday.