Major religious holidays explained

Written by C Wolsey

As people no longer have a fixed position in the world and can travel and live across the globe, countries have become extremely multicultural. Due to this diversity in culture, it’s our duty to educate ourselves on the key holidays of various religions so that we can accommodate them accordingly. 

For example, in the UK, religious holidays that don’t apply to the Christian calendar can sometimes go unrecognised in the workplace. This means that followers of certain religions must use their limited paid holiday to book time off work or simply have to work that day. Educating ourselves on religions that are foreign from our own is a great way to ensure equality and inclusion. 


Contrary to popular belief, Easter is actually considered the most important holiday in the Christian church, as opposed to Christmas. Easter Sunday changes from year to year as it’s celebrated on the Sunday that follows the full moon on or after 21st March. Next year, Easter will fall on 17th April. 

Easter as a whole is comprised of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday is commemorative of the last supper, Good Friday is the remembrance of Jesus’s crucifixion, and finally, Easter Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection. 

These days, Easter is celebrated through the consumption of chocolate eggs which are symbolic of new life, in relation to Jesus’s resurrection. 

Eid ul-Adha

Though you will have likely heard of this holiday, you may not be familiar with the facts about Eid. Eid ul-Adha is the festival of sacrifice and is one of the most important Islamic holidays. Like Easter, the date of Eid ul-Adha changes on a yearly basis, yet it’s determined by the lunar calendar, rather than the solar one. Next year, Eid ul-Adha will be between 9th July and 10th July. 

Eid ul-Adha commemorates Ibrahim’s dream of Allah asking him to kill his son as a display of devotion to God. Ibrahim ignored the temptations of the devil to spare his son and was about to sacrifice his son before Allah stopped him and requested that he kill a lamb instead. 

Today, some Muslims will still slaughter a sheep or goat to share amongst family, friends, and the poor. However, Eid will typically begin with prayers at the Mosque to thank Allah for their blessings. This is a time to dress in your best clothes, visit family and friends, and donate money to charity. 


Shabbat is a weekly holiday that begins on Friday nights and lasts until the following Saturday night. This is so that the fourth of the Ten Commandments can be observed, resting from work as God rested from the creation of the Universe.

Ahead of sunset on the Friday, all errands such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping should be completed. In order to make Shabbat a pleasurable experience, people will dress up and ensure that everything has been put in place to adhere to the commandment. 

As the sun sets, the woman of the house will light the Shabbat Candles, representing the Zachor and Shamor commandments. These are to remember and to observe Shabbat. Once the candles are lit, wine will be consumed to symbolise celebration and joy and challah (soft, rich, braided eggy bread) will be enjoyed. Jewish law also states that everyone must eat three meals on Shabbat, and one must include bread. Ahead of this meal, a prayer will be recited, children will be blessed, and some families may attend the Synagogue. 

Though just three have been touched on, it’s currently estimated that there are 4,200 different religions in the world. How do you celebrate your faith?