All religions offer a vision of cosmic time: the beginning and the end of the universe. And all religions mark out day-to-day life by organizing the days, weeks, months, and years, which sets a rhythm for individuals’ time and that of the community.

Calendars are developed to account for the years and establish concrete points of reference. Feasts and celebrations punctuate the lives of practitioners who follow the cycles of the calendar. While Islam uses a lunar calendar, Catholicism and Protestantism follow a solar one. Orthodox Christians, Hindus, Jews, and the followers of many Chinese religions have developed lunisolar calendars.

Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the religious festivals of these calendars.

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Lion-dance mask


China, mid-20th century
Paper, cloth, wood

The Lunar New Year is part of the ceremonial calendar for Canadians of Chinese origin. Along with gift giving, fireworks and prayer, Chinese community associations often arrange parades featuring the lion dance, which brings good fortune to those who experience it.

© Nicola-Frank Vachon, Perspectives



Art Thompson (1948–2003)
British Columbia, 1989
Wood, skin

This drum bearing a painted image of a young Thunderbird (a mythological bird) is a type used to accompany songs at ceremonial gatherings, including potlatches. A great event featuring speeches, feasting, dancing and the distribution of gifts, the potlatch is often held in the winter, and people take time away from their seasonal work to participate.

© Nicola-Frank Vachon, Perspectives

Conquistador and lady on horseback


Mexico, 20th century

The Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico, is a festival during which families assemble shrines and make offerings to their deceased relatives. The offerings include clay and paper sculptures of skeletons involved in all the everyday activities and special events enjoyed by the living. The ceremonies draw on both the Catholic tradition and the reverence for death and time found in pre-Columbian civilizations of Central America.

© Nicola-Frank Vachon, Perspectives

Easter (Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ)

Rome, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI before the crowd assembled at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, for the first Easter mass of his pontificate. Christianity.


Ramadan (“intense heat”)

Breaking the Ramadan fast at Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi, the Prophet’s Mosque, Medina, Saudi Arabia. Islam.

© Kazuyoshi Nomachi/CORBIS 1995

Niinamesei (Thanksgiving)

Procession through the streets of Tokyo, Japan, in which practitioners carry an altar on a palanquin called the mikoshi. Shinto.

© John Dakers/CORBIS 1995

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Tell us about a religious holiday that is significant to you.

    • joe
    • August 22nd, 2012
    Christmas, because it brings family together, whether religious or not.
    • Sam
    • June 20th, 2012
    Even though I'm not sure God exists, I celebrate Easter and Christmas. These two holidays are an affirmation of how God really does love all of us. I have prayed many years but still have had no inspiration. I guess some people just have to wait. I hope I'll get a sign soon.
    • Anurb
    • April 15th, 2012
    The trees, the birds, the grass, the sun...nature in all her beauty. She is my God(dess).
    • GMD
    • April 10th, 2012
    April 21 Ridvan commemorating the day in 1863 when Baha'u'llah declared His Mission to the world. Since then His followers have encircled the earth with His love and unity.