15 less commonly known holidays to add diversity, inclusion to your 2022 calendar

·10 min read

It is halfway through 2022, so it's time to reflect on holidays that have passed and look forward to adding more to our calendars during the remainder of the year.

See the list below for less commonly known holidays that are still upcoming, and check out related links on those that have passed — where local, Greater Lansing authors weigh in on the significance of these less commonly known holidays.

Note: Scroll down for more holidays that have already passed.

August 9 | International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

Jaylee Fallis and L. In The Woods march with a sign that reads "Let us learn our history" during a demonstration through the rainy streets of Pierre, North Dakota on Monday, September 13, 2021.
Jaylee Fallis and L. In The Woods march with a sign that reads "Let us learn our history" during a demonstration through the rainy streets of Pierre, North Dakota on Monday, September 13, 2021.

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to create this holiday to bring awareness to the approximately 500 million indigenous people worldwide, recognize the challenges they face and to protect their rights.

Suggestions for observing this day include listening to indigenous voices, reflecting on the achievements and contributions of indigenous peoples in your country or region and considering how their stewardship creates a more sustainable and healthy world. Visit UNESCO.org for more info.

Note: In the U.S. a version of this holiday is also celebrated by some on the second Monday of October instead of Columbus Day.

September 21 | International Day of Peace

The International Day of Peace or, "World Peace Day," is celebrated to strengthen the ideals of peace within and among all nations and peoples. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, the day is designated to honor non-violence and cease fire. Since 1984, the non-governmental organization Pathways to Peace call for a full minute of silence at noon in each time zone to create a "Peace Wave" around the world. Individuals, communities and nations are invited to participate in the shared act of peace-building.

Suggestions for celebrating peace include standing up against acts of crime, both online and offline, and spreading compassion and kindness in our everyday lives. To find more info and events near you, visit internationaldayofpeace.org.

October 24 | Diwali Festival of Lights

Diwali is a major holiday throughout most of India, signifying the victory of good over evil and celebrating Hinduism. The festival usually lasts for five days, during which time celebrants have family gatherings to exchange sweets, give meaningful gifts and wear new clothes. It also includes lighting candles, creating art and celebrating with poetry or revelry.

To celebrate at home, visit diwalifestival.org for samples and tutorials of art and more. Some local areas also have Diwali programs and festivals that are open to the public to mark the occasion.

December 3 | International Day of People with Disabilities

This holiday was established in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly, to promote understanding and awareness of the issues faced by people with disabilities worldwide — a population that includes nearly 50% of the population that is 60 and older, one in ten children and around a billion people. It's because of this the World Health Organization recognizes disability as a global public health issue, a human rights issue and a development priority.

Observe this day by volunteering at a local senior citizens organization or assisted living facility; offer assistance to friends and neighbors who may need help with simple tasks such as picking up mail or going to the grocery store; and be more aware of the need to show compassion — if a person in front of you is slowing you down in your rush to get from one place to another, realize it could be a person with a disability — take the time to understand and support all of the people around you. Learn more at idpwd.org.

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Add these 15 less commonly known holidays to your 2022 calendar to keep diversity, inclusion conversation going year round.
Add these 15 less commonly known holidays to your 2022 calendar to keep diversity, inclusion conversation going year round.

Below (and above), we've curated a list to recognize 15 holidays based on diversity and inclusion — those that teach us to celebrate or remember our differences. Families can add these to 2022 calendars now, and take another step toward awareness and spark conversations about diversity throughout the year.

January 4 | World Braille Day

A day honoring the birth of inventor Louis Braille, who created a code system based on raised dots making it possible for the visually impaired to read and write. World Braille Day was started in 2019 to raise awareness of visually impaired individuals and calls for the same standard of human rights as everyone else.

You can observe the day by spreading the importance of Braille on social media, or learn more about Braille at home with resources like those from the Perkins School for the Blind — which includes a fun rap song, mnemonics to remember dot patters and even free books.

January 27 | International Holocaust Remembrance Day

This date was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

Whether you are Jewish or not, you can observe the day by visiting or donating to a Holocaust Museum or listen to reflections and testimonies of survivors through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

Note: Many in the U.S. also observe Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in April, to commemorate the lives and heroism of all those who died during World War II.

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February 4 | Rosa Parks Day

This holiday was created in 2000 by the state legislature of California; it commemorates civil rights leaders on the birthday of Rosa Parks — a Black woman who refused to give up her bus seat for white people in 1955. The Rosa Parks Memorial was unveiled in Montgomery, Alabama in 2021; the Rosa Parks bus was restored by The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan in 2001 and is now part of the museum's, "With Liberty and Justice for All" exhibit.

Rosa Parks Day should be observed by learning about Rosa Parks and some of her more notable quotes, such as, "I had given up my seat before, but this day, I was especially tired. Tired from my work as a seamstress, and tired from the ache in my heart."

Note: Some states (e.g. Ohio and Oregon) celebrate Rosa Parks Day on December 1, the date of her arrest. There is no national holiday recognized.

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The New Rosa Parks Memorial was unveiled during a Rosa Parks Day ceremony at the Troy University Rosa Parks Library and Museum in downtown Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday December 1, 2021.
The New Rosa Parks Memorial was unveiled during a Rosa Parks Day ceremony at the Troy University Rosa Parks Library and Museum in downtown Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday December 1, 2021.

March 8 | International Women’s Day

International Women's Day celebrates and recognizes the achievements of all women, and is a day to reflect on the continuing fight for gender equality. The United Nations Women's organization theme for 2022 is, "Gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow," recognizing the women and girls around the world leading the charge on climate change.

Celebrate the day by getting involved: Many cities have events, guest speakers, concerts or exhibitions to honor the day. Additionally, as is done in many countries, you send a thank you card or small acknowledgement to a mother, sister or co-worker.

Note: The U.S. International Women's Day website theme for next year is #BreaktheBias, and they will update their website with details and guidance on activities to support the theme in 2022.

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March 18 | Holi Festival of Colors

Holi, pronounced like the word holy, is the ancient Hindu Festival of Colors (also known as the Festival of Love or the Festival of Spring). It marks the end of winter and blossoming of spring, and is celebrated in almost every part of India. There is a ritual of starting a bonfire one day before Holi to symbolize good triumphing over evil, and using colored water and powders to cover clothes and skin in vibrant colors on the day of. Families also use brightly colored lights, fabrics, flowers and balloons to decorate and chant mantras to show love and respect to family and friends.

You can celebrate Holi by decorating your home with brightly colored fabrics, flowers or balloons. Seek out and try traditional Indian foods or learn more about Indian culture online. For more ideas on how to celebrate, visit holifestival.org.

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More than 300 people gathered to celebrate Holi, the Hindu "festival of color" at A.J. Henry Park in Tallahassee Sunday, March 24, 2019. The event was organized by the India Association of Tallahassee and included colors, music, dancing and a potluck meal.
More than 300 people gathered to celebrate Holi, the Hindu "festival of color" at A.J. Henry Park in Tallahassee Sunday, March 24, 2019. The event was organized by the India Association of Tallahassee and included colors, music, dancing and a potluck meal.

April 14 | Vaisakhi Spring Harvest Festival

Vaisakhi, also spelled Baisakhi, is a spring harvest festival that marks the start of the Punjabi New Year. It is celebrated among Sikhs, a people associated with the Indian religion Sikhism that originated in the Punjab region of South Asia. It is also a day to celebrate 1699 — the year when Sikhism was born as a collective faith.

On this day, many enjoy parades and processions through the streets wearing specific articles of clothing and accessories that help identify who they are. Some visit temples, cook delicious dishes and meet with friends and relatives on this day. The exchanging of greeting cards and other activities to celebrate can be found at sikhcoalition.org.

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May 3 | Eid al-Fitr Breaking the Fast

The Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr (pronounce Eid like the 'eed' in seed) marks the end of Ramadan, a holy month when the Prophet Muhammad received the teachings of the Quran. Muslims worldwide concentrate on their faith this month by fasting from dawn to sunset each day and making personal sacrifices. The holiday is a time of special receptions and family visits, filled with prayer and solemn contemplation. Gifts of food and other charitable items are given on this day too.

To celebrate, spend a bit of time learning about Islam and Ramadan. Say, "Happy Eid" or, "Blessed Eid" to those who celebrate and consider giving to those in need. MuslimAid.org has resources to learn more.

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May 16 | Vesak or Buddha Day

Vesak is the most important day of the year for most Buddhists. It commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama and begins on the first day of the full moon in May — also the start of the lunar month "Vesakha." The day is used to contemplate the teachings of Buddha, who was not a god but a man who achieved enlightenment through mindfulness and

To celebrate at home, think of something life-affirming to you and your family — take a walk together and observe nature, sing songs or meditate — anything that heightens your senses and gives you joy for being alive. Visit thebuddhistsociety.org for more ideas.

May 17 | International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

This holiday was created in 2004 to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, abuse and repression of LGBTQ communities worldwide. The date of May 17 was selected to commemorate the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and it is currently celebrated in more than 130 countries worldwide — including 37 where homosexuality is illegal.

To mark this date, you might do some research to learn about the contributions of LGBTQ people — both to human rights and society in general. Or find an LGBTQ organization or event near your hometown. Reach out to LGBTQ friends or relatives to let them know you support them. And visit May17.org for more information.

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June 20 | World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is an international day to honor and celebrate the spirit and courage of refugees around the world who are forced to leave their homes and sometimes countries to escape conflict or persecution. It was designated a holiday by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001.

The United Nations website has a number of activities to help you observe this day at home, including art contests and musical performances. You can also reach out to find an organization in or near your community that is dedicated to helping refugees. Visit UN.org for more information.

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July 9 | Eid al-Adha Festival of Sacrifice

This Islamic holiday commemorates the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son to Allah, showing his commitment and dedication. An important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide, it is also known as the Festival of Sacrifice.

In the United States and around the world, many Muslims celebrate with prayers and social gatherings. Traditionally, the holiday included livestock being sacrificed and divided into three portions: one for your family, one for friends and one to give to those in need. To celebrate at home, consider giving food or other items to those in need. Visit MuslimAid.org for more ideas.

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What's your favorite holiday?

If you would like to share your favorite from our list, or suggest another inclusive holiday for a future list, please submit via email to opinions@lsj.com.

Jayne Higo is a news assistant at the Lansing State Journal. Contact her at dhigo@lsj.com or 517.377.1192.

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This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Advance diversity, add 15 inclusive holidays to your 2022 calendar