7 Holidays that Latter-day Saints Should Celebrate

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Interfaith Relations
Image via DeseretNews.com

It is only recently that Latter-day Saints have begun to publicize the significance of the other holidays in Holy Week. This is due to the Church’s past efforts, like the Prince of Peace initiative in 2017 and the Come Follow Me, study in 2020.

There are many holidays that signify Christ or have other sacred meanings to people all over the world. The most well-known holidays tend to be Christmas and Easter, but there is so much more to celebrate. Here are 7 holidays that Latter-day Saints don’t typically celebrate but should.

Palm Sunday

Catholic Priest holding palm fronds on Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday. Picture by Grant Whitty on Unsplash.

Date: April 5, 2020 (One Sunday before Easter.)

Origin: Christian

Palm Sunday celebrates Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This is the day that begins Holy Week and commemorates Christ traveling back to Jerusalem for the final week of His life. His entry was originally celebrated with palm fronds. Palm fronds are a symbol of victory, triumph, and peace: All things that the Savior stood for.

This year we were able to participate in a special hosannah shout during General Conference weekend. This fell on Palm Sunday, making it not only a momentous occasion but also a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday.

Passover

A traditional Passover Seder dinner setting.
Traditional Passover Seder meal.

Dates: April 8- 16, 2020

Origin: Jewish

The Passover is symbolic of rebirth from slavery to freedom. It commemorates the passing over of the angel of death from the homes of the Jews, as recounted in Exodus 12-14. Today, Jews celebrate this 7-day festival with unleavened bread, ritual dinners (called seder meals), and recitation of the story of the Passover from the Torah.

Passover is a great time to reflect on how the Lord has carried you through your trials, just as he delivered his people in the Old Testament. Take a look into the symbolism of Passover and how it can apply to your life.

Related Link: A Passover Family Home Evening for You 

Yom HaShoah

75 year old Holocaust survivor looking as Jewish kids pray at the death camp Auschwitz.
Holocaust survivor Siggy Weiser at 75 years old. He is in looking as Jewish kids pray at the death camp Auschwitz. Picture by Josh Appel on Unsplash.

Dates: April 20-21, 2020

Origin: Jewish

While this holiday is most commonly celebrated in Israel, Holocaust Remembrance Day should be celebrated throughout the world. In Israel, after a siren sounds, everyone stands at attention. All public businesses are closed, and all radio stations play interviews with holocaust survivors.

As members of the Church, we see religious freedom as a necessity for all people, not just ourselves. The genocide that occurred during the Holocaust should never occur again. Use this day to pay your respects to those who lost their lives and those who survived. As we do so we will feel the weight of our duty to uphold religious freedom wherever we live.

Obon

Lit Obon holiday lanterns hanging in a row.
Obon lanterns. Picture by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

Dates: August 13-15, 2020

Origin: Buddhist

This holiday, most commonly celebrated in Asian countries, is dedicated to celebrating one’s ancestors. It involves lanterns, food offerings at the graves of ancestors, and performed dances. Obon strongly resembles Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) in Mexico.

Like the Disney movie, Coco demonstrated to us, holidays like this are perfect for reflecting on your family history and heritage. Take a look at Family Search and dig deeper into your past.

Yom Kippur

Jewish man reading the Torah.
Torah reading. Picture by Eran Menashri on Unsplash.

Dates: September 27-28, 2020

Origin: Jewish

“The Day of Atonement” or “The Sabbath of Sabbaths” is considered by Jews as the holiest day of the year. Many people fast, pray, and read for the entire day, along with abstaining from all personal pleasure. They use this day to ask God for the forgiveness of their sins and reflect on the themes of atonement and repentance.

While our core beliefs about atonement may differ, the principle of this holiday is sacred to us as well. We can use this day to reflect on what we believe is Christ’s atonement for our sins. While we try to repent every day, we can put a special focus on these topics for this holiday.

Diwali

woman creates intricate sand drawing around a candles during Diwali.
Decoration during Diwali. Picture by Sandeep Kr Yadav on Unsplash.

Dates: November 14-18, 2020

Origin: Hindu

Most commonly celebrated in India, this festival of lights traditionally lasts 5 days. It is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists alike, marking different stories and events within each religion. The overarching theme of Diwali is, “Light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”

The theme of this holiday is something that members of the Church can really connect to. 2 Nephi 2 gives a clear depiction of “opposition in all things” means, and this holiday allows us to celebrate the joy that can be found in opposition.

Advent

Candles and Bokeh during Advent holiday.
Candles and Bokeh. Picture by Jude Beck on Unsplash.

Dates: November 29 – December 24, 2020

Origin: Christian

This Christian (Catholic) season generally goes from around the end of November until Christmas Eve. Originally, this season was is tied to Christ’s birth, but in the 6th century, people began to connect it to preparations for Christ’s Second Coming. St. Thomas instructs people to prepare for both of these things, along with preparing for Christ to come personally into our hearts.

Like many fellow Christians, members of the Church believe that Christ will come again. While we often focus on His Second Coming during the Easter Season, it could be a cool perspective to focus on it during the Christmas season as well.

Las Posadas

Live Christmas nativity with many angels present.
Live nativity.

Dates: December 16-24, 2020

Origin: Christian

Celebrated in most Latin American countries, Las Posadas translates in English to “The Inns.” This tradition reenacts Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, leading up to Christmas. People will often dress as if they are in the time period of Christ’s birth to participate in the holiday.

It is basically a 9-day live nativity. A “Posada party” is held each night in a different home. In this Christmas tradition, there is no Santa Claus and there are no gifts.

We already do live nativities, why not participate in this holiday? It is the perfect way to take the secular traditions out of a sacred holiday.

Related Link: The Time My Family Celebrated “Un-Christmas” 

Candlemas Day

Mary holding the Christ child at presentation to Simeon in the temple.
Christ’s presentation at the temple.

Date: February 2, 2021

Origin: Christian

This Christian holiday, mainly celebrated by Catholics, commemorates the presentation of Christ at the temple when He was a baby. It is correlated to Luke 2:22-40 in the New Testament.

The Church’s Bible videos depict the presentation of Christ at the temple. While this holiday may not actually fall on the correct day, it is cool that there is a day to celebrate Christ’s first time in the temple.

Holi

Holi festival of colors. Chalk in the air.
Holi. Picture by Maxime Bhm on Unsplash.

Dates: March 28-29, 2021

Origin: Hindu

The Holi Festival of Colors is a day of spreading happiness and love to celebrate the beginning of spring. Known for its bright colorful powder, cities of family and friends gather to cover in chalk. Holi, which is predominantly celebrated in India, has grown in global popularity. There are now many festivals all around the world.

Any excuse to celebrate happiness and love with friends and family is fine by me! If you choose to attend, prepare to come home looking like a box of chalk just attacked you. Look out for any celebrations in your area.

Which of these holidays do you already celebrate or want to start celebrating? Share in the comments. 

Zoë Holyoak is currently a BYU student, photographer, and writer. Her hobbies include long walks through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and correcting bad grammar. She is also a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission for the Church in Portland, Oregon.