Here’s a list of dates for honoring ancestors year round- it’s started out very U.S. based, but is a work in progress. It is quite open and adaptable to people of any religion (or none) Starting after Samhain- it’s the Celtic New Year (or Witch’s New Year) Important Note: As you explore history, please make sure to sort out who is dead and who is still living! Some of the Mighty Dead honored below have spouses or friends who are living, and they too can be honored with a toast, but offerings and ancestor shrines should only hold images and symbols of the dead. If you honor people of other cultures and religions, please be sure to check what customs and traditions are appropriate and respectful.
11th November- Remembrance Day (U.K., British Commonwealth) in honor of service members who died in World War I (Personally I think civilian casualties should also be honored) This is also Veteran’s Day in the U.S. is to honor still living service members. Still, even in the U.S. this would be a day for remembering World War I. Called Einerjar in Asatru, Martinmas or St. Martin’s Day
12th November- Beginning of Transgender Rite of Ancestor Elevation
20th November– Transgender Day of Remembrance (International) Day to remember transgender people who were murdered- or took their own lives due to the pressures of a society that did not understand them. It was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. Find local events here
4th Thursday of November- Thomas Morton Day– a Pagan take on Thanksgiving (U.S.) in honor of a man who rebelled against the strict laws of the Puritans, founded his own colony & erected a Maypole!
3rd Monday in January- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (also called Human Rights Day in Idaho, and Civil Rights Day in Arizona) A day to honor civil rights activists in general, MLK was awesome but many others do not get enough credit: Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks has her own day on Feb. 4th
27th January- Holocaust Remembrance Day (International) This is the most broadly observed, here is a list of other Holocaust Memorial Days in different countries, notably Yom HaShoah in Israel & the Jewish diaspora
4th February- Rosa Parks Day, could also be a day to honor contributions of women to the civil rights movement, and Black/African Diasporan women in general.
15th February Susan B. Anthony Day (U.S.) Hmm, this may also be a good alternative to Valentine’s Day! My birthday is the day after!
3rd Monday in February– George Washington’s birthday/President’s Day (properly the 22nd) As I discussed in another post, I do not honor presidents or First Ladies who were involved in slavery (owning or trading) or Indian genocide. However, I know many other Americans will continue to do so, often with justifications that “he was a product of his time” and “our country wouldn’t be what it is without so and so”. As an alternative, I propose that we honor the slaves of these presidents, more research has been uncovered about them, we know some of their names, and after all, so many things that made this country what it is, are owed to human beings who were owned and unpaid for their work. It’s about time we gave them some credit!
1st March- Day of Mourning (International)- for people with disabilities killed (or died due to neglect or abuse) by their caregivers. A time to read the names of individuals who were killed, recognize their humanity and educate the public about how these murders are often depicted in the media.
8th March- International Women’s Day- I think this is meant more as a day to promote issues of concern to women around the world rather than women of the past, but I added it to give an international option. This is another day with hidden socialist origins!
31st March- Cesar Chavez Day (California & other states) – he was a migrant farm worker who became a labor organizer and a great hero to Chicanos/Mexican-Americans. There’s a movement to make it a national holiday– Pres. Obama is in support. You could also add any other Mexican or Mexican-Americans that you find admirable.
1st May- Labor Day in many countries around the world- in the U.S. because we’re scared of its socialist associations, we observe it in September. A great day to honor labor organizers, reformers and other rabble-rousers, as well as regular workers, both living and dead.
2nd Sunday in May- Mother’s Day (U.S.) A day to honor mothers, biological or adoptive, living and dead, and other female relatives and ancestresses. Interestingly, an early effort to establish Mother’s Day in the U.S. was connected with women’s peace groups that united mothers who had lost sons on both sides of the Civil War. Mother’s Days around the world listed here.
22nd May- Harvey Milk Day (California, other states) in honor of Harvey Milk, a leader of the gay rights movement, and others- Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Del Martin and other founders & activists in the Daughters of Bilitis, an early lesbian organization
4th Mon in May- Memorial Day (U.S.) – originally for the Civil War, this now includes all war dead. At one time it was just for Union dead, and so there is a Confederate Memorial Day in some Southern states in January. Traditional beginning of summer, celebrated with picnics, barbecues- why not invite the Dead along? It used to be a tradition to have picnics in cemeteries.
3rd Sunday in June- Father’s Day (U.S.) A day to honor fathers, biological or adoptive, living and dead, and other male relatives and ancestors. Dates around the world here.
27th June- Helen Keller Day– in both her honor and that of other disability rights activists
26th August- Equality Day (U.S.) celebrating when women won the right to vote in the U.S. in 1920– a time to honor suffrage activists and later feminists.
1st Mon in September- (Capitalist) Labor Day (U.S.) Another day to honor workers and labor organizers, both living and dead. Traditional end of summer, celebrated with more picnics and barbecues.
Sunday after Labor Day Grandparents Day (U.S.) A day to honor grandparents and great-grandparents, biological or adoptive, living and dead. In fact the founders of the holiday encourage youth to “adopt” grandparents. Dates around the world here.
25th October Paul & Sheila Wellstone Day– this is not official, even in Minnesota, but many progressives here and across the land will remember the terrible day a plane crashed carrying Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia and staffers Tom Lapic, Mary McEvoy, and Will McLaughlin. To me this is of great personal importance as after finding out while in college, I decided to be a political science major and dedicate my life to political activism. There’s a great organization which I linked to above, Wellstone Action, which teaches community organizing using Paul’s campaign techniques.
Entry filed under: Ancestors/Heroes, Disability Rights, Feminism/Gender, GLBT, Holidays, Interfaith, Race/Ethnicity. Tags: ancestor elevation, ancestor veneration, ancestors, Cesar Chavez, Civil Rights movement, Civil War, Daughters of Bilitis, Day of Mourning, disability rights, genocide, Harvey Milk, Harvey Milk Day, Holocaust, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King Day, Mattachine Society, May Day, Memorial Day, Shoah, slavery, trans, transgender, Transgender Day of Remembrance, transgender rights, Yom HaShoah.