Ethnic Holiday Calendar

Ethinic holidays factor significantly in the demand for sheep meat and to a lesser extent for goat (chevon). The type (size, sex, and condition) of lamb (or goat) desired by particular people at particular holidays varies. The following table gives the dates of various ethnic holidays for the next five years (2012-2016).

Explanation of Holidays

Muslim Holidays

  • Ramadan is the ninth month of the year in the Islamic calendar. A fast, held from sunrise to sunset, is carried out during this period.
  • Eid-al-Fitr is a festival that ends the fast of Ramadan. In Arabic “Eid” means “festival” or “festivity.”
  • Eid-al-Adha is second in the series of Eid festivals that Muslims celebrate. It concludes the Hajj and is a three-day festival recalling Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah (God).
  • Muharram is the first month fo the Muslim year. Its first day is celebrated as New year’s Day.
  • Mawlid al-Nabi is a celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

While the two Eid Festivals are always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Western calendar (the Gregorian calendar) varies from year to year due to differences between the two calendars, as the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country. Dates listed are only estimates.

Muslims come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds: South Asia, South Central Asia, Arab, and African American.

Jewish Holidays

  • Passover is a holiday beginning on the 14th of Nisan (first month of the religious calendar, corresponding to March–April) and traditionally continuing for eight days, commemorating the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. Also called Pesach.
  • Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is marked by solemnity as well as festivity.
  • Chanukkah is the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights. It is an eight day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.

Jewish holidays are celebrated on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year, but the Jewish year is not the same length as a solar year on the Gregorian calendar used by most of the western world, so the date shifts on the Gregorian calendar.

Christian Holidays

  • Easter is a Christian feast commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. The Orthodox Eastern Church calculates Easter somewhat differently, so that the Orthodox Easter usually comes several weeks after that of the West.
  • Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. The holiday is generally observed on December 25.
  • Most Orthdox Christians in the United States celebrate Christmas on January 7 in the Gregorian calendar.

Eastern Orthodox Christians come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds: Greek, Russian, Egyptian, Romanian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Albanian, Ethiopian, Syrian, and American.

Compiled by Susan Schoenian. Susan is a Sheep & Goat Specialist at the University of Maryland’s Western Maryland Research & Education Center and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland College Park. She is a certified Professional Animal Scientist. Susan has been with University of Maryland Extension (UME) since 1988. Previously, she served as Farm Management Specialist for Maryland’s nine Eastern Shore counties and as a county extension agent in Wicomico County. Her first professional job was as Sheep Specialist for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. Susan earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Animal Science from Virginia Tech and Montana State University, respectively. She raises registered and commercial Katahdin sheep on a small farm called The Baalands in Clear Spring, Maryland.