Religious & Cultural

Scheduling Considerations

There are many, many religious and cultural holidays celebrated in our community. It’s impossible to avoid scheduling events on all of them. How do you know what to consider when scheduling events? Which holidays are the most widely practiced? Which ones prohibit work? Which ones have dietary restrictions? This list will give you a head start on planning events that are as inclusive as possible, and additional tips at the end will help you accommodate religious observances that aren’t on this list.

Orthodox Christmas 

Many Orthodox Christians attend special church services. 

Lunar New Year

This is the biggest celebration of the year for the Chinese, as well as for many other Asians, such as Koreans, Vietnamese, and Singaporeans. Many will host parties or take vacations to visit relatives. Lunar New Year celebrations can take place over several days, so scheduling is often flexible. In case you’re curious, this will be the year of the dog.

Ash Wednesday

Many Christians will attend evening services, where they will be marked with a cross of oil and ashes on their foreheads. Observant Catholics do not eat meat on this day.


This 40-day season leading up to Easter is traditionally a time of fasting and self-denial in the Christian calendar. Observant Catholics avoid red meat and poultry on Fridays during Lent. Observant Orthodox Christians abstain from all animal products (except for shellfish) during the entire Lenten period and from olive oil and alcohol on weekdays. Many others—both Christian and secular—choose to cut something from their diet for 40 days, with sugar being a common choice.  If you provide a meal during Lent, offer a vegetarian option. If you provide refreshments for an event, offer at least one healthy choice, not just donuts or cookies.

Buddhist New Year: April 13

This is an important family celebration for Southeast Asians (Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Burmese). Many host family gatherings or take vacation time to visit relatives. Since the holiday is celebrated over a period of several days, parties may not take place on the actual date, making scheduling more flexible.

Jewish Holidays

Jewish holidays begin at sunset on the evening prior to their calendar dates and end when three stars are visible in the sky. Traditional Judaism forbids working and driving on important holidays—and there are a lot of these! However, these regulations are generally only followed by Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, and some Conservative Jews, who make up a very small minority in the U.S., so it is not generally necessary to avoid scheduling events on these days. The most important scheduling considerations are noted in the event descriptions, and other dates are less important to avoid unless an individual in your workplace practices traditional Judaism. Regular synagogue services for all Jewish traditions are held on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Muslim Holidays

Muslim holidays, like Jewish ones, begin at sunset prior to the date listed on the calendar. For most Sunni Muslims, the beginning of the holiday depends on the sighting of the crescent moon, so the dates when they are celebrated occasionally differ from what is scheduled in advance. Regular Muslim prayer services are held every Friday, just after noon.

Good Friday

This is a solemn holiday in the Christian calendar; try to avoid scheduling celebratory events. Many Christians attend church services in the evening.


This is one of the most important holidays of the year in Judaism. The traditional Seder meal, held on the first night of Passover, is celebrated even by many secular Jews. Traditional Jews will not work on the first and last day of. Grain-based foods (such as bread, pastries, pasta, beer), with the exception of matzo, are off-limits for the full eight days. 


In addition to traditional church services, many people, whether Christian or not, host family celebrations on this day.