The Air Force Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Howard D. Stendahl recently released a list of upcoming religious holidays, festivals, feasts and observances.
The purpose of the list is to make commanders and supervisors aware of the religious needs of their Airmen.
I encourage you to approve religious accommodation requests while continuing to nurture an environment in your unit where such requests are welcomed, said Stendahl. Your Air Force Chaplain Corps stands ready to assist and advise you as needed.
Thank you for your continued support of all of our military personnel who serve around the globe. While this is not an all-inclusive list, it is a basic list of major religious holidays within the month of March, he said. Airmen may request permission to participate in the holiday observances listed below. I trust that this will provide you with situational awareness as you meet the religious needs of those under your command.
March 2-20: Nineteen Day Fast – Baha’i: The Baha’i Faith sees great value in the practice of fasting as a discipline for the soul. This month, immediately preceding the Baha’i New Year, the day of the vernal equinox and the period of fasting is viewed as a time of spiritual preparation and regeneration for a new year’s activities.
March 3: Clean Monday – Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholics: Clean Monday is the first day of Great Lent, as Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics refer to the Lenten season. Great Lent is a time of repentance, confession, prayer, and fasting. Clean Monday begins a period of fasting to include abstinence from meat, eggs and dairy products.
March 4: Shrove Tuesday -Liturgical Protestants: Christian carnival day, on the eve of Ash Wednesday , begins Lent, a time of fasting and devotions . Pancakes are often served. It is also known as Fat Tuesday in some places.
March 5: Ash Wednesday/Beginning of Lent – Christian (Catholic and Liturgical Protestants): Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian Calendar and is a most significant and popular holy day among the faithful. It occurs forty days before Easter not counting Sundays (which are not included in Lent). This time recalls the forty days Jesus spent fasting and in prayer in the desert. Masses/services are traditionally held on this day at which attendees are blessed with ashes by the priest/minister celebrating the Mass/service. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. This day marks the beginning of the Lenten fast, which lasts until Holy Saturday.
March 9: Sunday of Orthodoxy – Orthodox Christian : On this Sunday, Orthodox Christians commemorate the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787 A.D.) decision upholding the use of icons in Orthodox worship. In some locations, Pan-Orthodox Vespers services commemorate Orthodox unity in belief across various jurisdictions, and nations and languages.
March 15-16: Purim – Jewish: The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. Jews are commanded to eat, drink and be merry on Purim. In addition, they are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. It is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies. Purim is not subject to the Sabbath-like restrictions on work, unlike other holidays.
March 16: Magha Puj a Day – Buddhism: This holiday celebrates the most famous sermon of the Buddha, in which the main Buddhist principles were first set out, and is always held on the full moon of the third lunar month.
March 17: Holi – Hindu: Holi is a spring festival, also known as “festival of colors” and sometimes as “festival of love.” The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.
March 20: Ostara – Earth-Centered: Ostara (Spring Equinox) marks the corning of spring and the fertility of the land. Sunlight and darkness stand as equals again. It is after this day that sunlight will once again rule the greater part of our days and spring will finally be within reach. As the Earth awakens and life begins to stir, it is during Ostara that feasting and socializing are the norm. Ostara is celebrated as the “Festival of the Dawn”and of “Increasing Light”.
March 21: Naw Ruz ñ New Year – Baha’i: Naw Ruz is one of nine holy days for adherents of the Baha ‘i Faith worldwide and the first day of the Baha’i calendar occurring on the vernal equinox, around March 21 .
March 28: Khordad Sal (Birth of Prophet Zaranhushtra) – Zoroastrian: Zoroastrians and Parsees celebrate the birth of their prophet Zarathustra on Khordad Sal. It is a day of rejoicing, when Zoroastrians go to fire temples to pay homage and offer prayers. A feast is prepared and Parsees, in India, decorate their homes with flowers and rangoli. It is seen as an opportunity for individual believers to review their lives and make resolutions for the future.