Celebrations Around the World: Nirvana Day, 15 February


Nirvana Day marks the anniversary of the Buddha’s death at the age of 80.


Buddhists believe that he entered Nirvana at this point, a state achieved the end of the cycle of death and rebirth. The day is an important reminder to Buddhists that nothing is permanent; a fact that they work to accept without sadness.


As well as meditating and reflecting on loved ones who are no longer with them, Buddhists may also visit monasteries or temples, bringing gifts such as food or household products.

We always love to hear from customers about their own celebrations. Please get in touch if you have observed any of February’s festivals and would like to share stories or photos with us!


January dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

9th       Seijin no hi, Shinto

Seijin no hi is an ancient Japanese ceremony to mark young people’s coming of age at 20 years old. This is the age at which Japanese people are legally allowed to gamble, drive and drink alcohol. In most towns, young people will gather to hear a local dignitary speak, and then go with their families to a Shinto shrine to pray.

19th     Timkat, Ethiopian Orthodox

This is the Ethiopian Orthodox feast of the Epiphany, the baptism of Christ. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate by praying over the entire holiday. Priests take models of the Ark of the Convenant and lead processions to the nearest bodies of water, where worshipers are blessed.

26th     Vasant Panchami, Hindu/Jain/Sikh

Vasant Panchami ushers in the spring in India, and is celebrated by wearing bright colours (usually yellow, to represent the blossoming mustard fields) and decorating with flowers. There are variations on how the festival is celebrated; in some parts of India, people fly kites to celebrate Vasant Panchami, and for Hindus there is a link to the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati, so the festivities often feature idols or statues.

This month’s dates at a glance


1                Solemnity of Mary, mother of God, Catholic Christian

Gantan-sai (new year), Shinto

5                  Twelfth night, Christian

Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, Sikh

6                 Epiphany, Christian

7                 Feast of the nativity Orthodox, Christian

7-9                Mahayana new year, Buddhist

8                   Baptism of the Lord Jesus, Catholic Christian

9                 Seijin no Hi, Shinto

13                Lohri/Maghi, Hindu and Sikh

14                Old new year, Orthodox Christian

Makar Sankranti, Hindu

15-18          Pongal, Hindu

18-25          Week of prayer for Christian unity, Christian

19                Timkat, Ethiopian Orthodox Christian

22                Lunar new year Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist

25                Conversion of Saint Paul, Christian

26               Vasant Panchami, Hindu, Sikh and Jain

29               Zacchaeus Sunday, Orthodox Christian

31               Birthday of Guru Har Rai, Sikh

Awareness and events

4                  World Braille Day

8                  Ethnicity Pay Gap Day

15                World Religion Day

16                Martin Luther King Jr Day

24                International Day of Education

25                Robert Burns Night

27                Holocaust Memorial Day



Rare Language Fact File: Jiwarli

Native to: Pilbara region, Western Australia

Number of native speakers: 0

Spoken by: People of Jiwarli heritage (indigenous Australians)

Learn some: The Jiwarli word for camera is mangarn manaji; mangar is a person’s spirit and manaji means ‘it grabs’. The Jiwarli, as did many people around the world, believed that having your photo taken would steal your soul.

Interesting facts:

  • The last native speaker of Jiwarli was a man named Jack Butler, who died in 1986 and whose descendants were only interested in learning English. Butler was determined that the language should not die with him, so he collaborated with a linguist named Peter Austin to create a Jiwarli dictionary.
  • When Europeans first landed in Australia, there were 250 living languages there. Now there are only 15 that are learned as a native tongue. Austin has launched a £20m foundation that aims to preserve these.
  • Jiwarli has been the focus of much academic debate and discussion, because it is a ‘free word order’ language, meaning that word order is not critical to meaning. This is very rare and certainly not the case in English.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Please speak to your account manager about your requirements.

Celebrations Around the World: Pongal, 15-18 January


Pongal is the Tamil harvest festival, celebrated in southern India and Sri Lanka, as well as anywhere in the world with a Tamil community.


The celebration gives thanks to the sun, nature and the animals involved in bringing the harvest.


Pongal is celebrated over four days: on the first day, people thoroughly clean their home, throw away old belongings (to signify a new start) and wear new clothes. On day two, the traditional sweet rice that gives the festival its name is cooked. The milky rice is allowed to boil over and everyone shouts ‘pongalo pongal!’. The third day is for giving thanks to cows, and these revered animals are washed and decorated. The final day is one for coming together with loved ones, and younger family members seek blessings from their elders.

We always love to hear from customers about their own celebrations. Please get in touch if you have observed any of January’s festivals and would like to share stories or photos with us!


December dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

This month’s dates at a glance

1st       World AIDS Day

2nd     International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

3rd      International Day of Persons with Disabilities

5th      International Volunteer Day

8th      Rohatsu (Bodhi Day) – Buddhist,

Feast of the Immaculate Conception– Christian

10th    Human Rights Day

12th    International Universal Health Coverage Day

18th    International Migrants Day

19th    Chanukah begins – Judaism

20th    International Human Solidarity Day

21st     Winter Solstice, Yule – Litha – Wicca/Pagan Northern and Southern hemispheres

24th    Christmas Eve – Christian

25th    Christmas Day – Christian

Feast of the Nativity – Orthodox Christian

26th    Saint Stephen’s Day – Christian

Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathushtra) – Zoroastrian

Boxing Day

Kwanzaa begins

Bank Holiday – England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ROI

27th    Bank Holiday – England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ROI

28th    Holy Innocents – Christian

30th    Feast of the Holy Family – Catholic Christian

31st     Watch Night – Christian

New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay

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November dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

8th       Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev, Sikh

Guru Nanek Dev was the first Sikh guru and original founder of the religion. In India, in preparation for his birthday, there is akhand path, a 48 hour non-stop recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib in the gurdwaras. The day before the celebrations, there are processions and on the day of the festival itself, people gather for langar, a communal free lunch at the gurdwaras.

14th     World Diabetes Day

Since 1991, World Diabetes Day has been marked on 14 November, the birthday of Frederick Banting, the man who co-discovered insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. The theme for this day for the years 2021-23 is access to diabetes care, and organisers call on governments to provide better education and equality of access.

18th     UK Disability History Month begins

Since 2010, during UK Disability History Month, we have celebrated the achievements of disabled people in this country. We also take the month to pay homage to the disability rights movements and activists who have fought for equity and equality for disabled people.

This month’s dates at a glance

1st      All Saints’ Day – Christian

2nd    All Souls’ Day – Christian, Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I – Rastafari

8th     Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev – Sikh, Intersex Day of Solidarity

9th     Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – Catholic Christian,

11th    Armistice Day

13th    Remembrance Sunday, World Kindness Day, UK Interfaith Week begins

14th    World Diabetes Day  

15th    Nativity Fast begins – Orthodox Christian

16th    International Day for Tolerance

17th    International Students’ Day

18th    International STAND UP to Bullying Day, UK Disability History Month begins

19th    International Men’s Day

20th    Feast of Christ the King – Christian, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Universal Children’s Day

21st    Presentation of the Theotokos – Orthodox Christian

24th    Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur – Sikh  

25th    International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

26th    Day of the Covenant – Baha’i

27th    Advent Sunday – Christian

28th    Ascension of Abdu’l-Bahá – Baha’i

30th    Saint Andrew’s Day – Christian, Bank Holiday – Scotland.

Rare language fact file: Hertevin

Native to: Siirt Province, Turkey

Number of native speakers: 4

Spoken by: Chaldean Catholics from the region

Learn some: With only 4 native speakers left, it is unlikely that you will need to use it, but to greet someone on Hertevin is ‘shlama’!

Interesting facts:

  • Although Hertevin is ancient, with records going back to the 6th century BC, it was not formally recognised until the 20th It is part of a group of languages that are known as Neo-Aramaic.
  • The language is named after a village in far southeastern Turkey. In the 1970s, Hertevin village had a population of 500, with many speaking the language, however by 1990 just one Hertevin-speaking family remained. Unlike most endangered languages, which face pressure from globalisation, the Hertevin speakers were forced to flee due to targeted violence during the Armenian Genocide.
  • The scattering of people from this region has contributed to the dwindling number of speakers of Hervetin. However, many Chaldean Catholics settled in Paris, where they were joined by Iraqi Christians during the Gulf Wars. There is a cathedral in the 18th arrondissement of Paris where the mass is read in Chaldean languages, as well as French.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Please speak to your account manager about your requirements.


Remembrance Sunday, 13th November

What: On the Sunday that falls nearest to 11th November (Armistice Day, marking the end of WW1), we remember British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the World Wars and later conflicts.

Why: The day is an opportunity to remember our dead. For some, Remembrance Day is a time to focus on the tragedies of war, which we should strive to avoid. For others, it is a time for paying respect to the military.

How: The first anniversary of the end of WW1 was marked by King George V with a banquet, which a lot of people felt did not give the event the seriousness it deserved. The following year, the first event at the Cenotaph was held, which gave people the opportunity to gather and remember their dead. From 1921, the Royal British Legion started to sell the now synonymous red poppies to raise money for war veterans. These latter two traditions continue today, along with the two minute silence at 11am.

We always love to hear from customers about their own significant dates. Please get in touch if you have observed any of November’s festivals and would like to share stories or photos with us!

October dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

4th       Blessing of the Animals - Christian

On the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, the saint known for his love of animals, many Christians mark the day by saying prayers over animals. These could be pets, working animals or animals going to slaughter. Often, animals are brought to a place of worship to be directly blessed on this day.

5th     Dusshera - Hindu

On this day, Hindus celebrate Lord Rama’s defeat of Ravana, the ten-headed king of the demons who abducted Rama’s wife Sita. It is also said that Goddess Durga defeated the buffalo demon Mahishasura on this day. Celebrations involve effigies of the defeated, which are burned in the streets with fireworks, the fire representing the triumph of light over darkness.

10th     World Mental Health Day

The World Federation for Mental Health sets the theme for this annual awareness-raising day. The theme for 2022 is 'Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority' and calls on those in charge to prioritise mental health care. It also provides an opportunity for everyone to talk about mental health with friends, colleagues and loved ones.


This month’s dates at a glance

1st      International Day of Older Persons

2nd    Feast of the Guardian Angels – Christian

International Day of Non-Violence  

4th     Blessing of the Animals – Christian

Saint Francis’ Day – Christian

5th     Yom Kippur – Judaism

Dussehra – Dasara – Hindu

6th     World Cerebral Palsy Day

8th     Mawlid al-Nabi – Islam

9th     Birthday of Guru Ram Das – Sikh

           Sukkot begins – Judaism

10th    World Homeless Day

World Mental Health Day

11th    International Day of the Girl Child

13th    World Sight Day

15th    International Day of Rural Women

16th    World Food Day

17th    Shemini Atzeret – Judaism

           International Day for the Eradication of


18th    Feast of Saint Luke – Christian

Simchat Torah – Judaism

World Menopause Day

19th    International Pronouns Day

24th    Diwali – Deepavali – Hindu, Sikh, Jain,

Bandi Chhor Divas – Sikh

United Nations Day

26th    Birth of the Báb – Baha’i

Intersex Awareness Day

27th    Birth of Baha’u’llah – Baha’i

28th    Feast of Saints Simon and Jude – Christian

29th    World Stroke Day

30th    British Summer Time ends

31st    All Hallows’ Eve – Christian

Reformation Day – Protestant Christian

Samhain (Halloween) – Beltane – Wicca/Pagan Northern and Southern hemispheres