At Emerson we acknowledge, celebrate, and explore domestic and international racial, ethnic, and religious holidays and celebrations. For many we present programming that can range from lecturers, art exhibits, dialogues and more.
Note: these listings are not exhaustive and we are happy to include others. If you wish for us to include another, please email intercultural [at] emerson.edutitle="E-mail Intercultural Student Affairs".
September 15 – October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.
September 21: International Day of Peace. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.
October is LGBT History Month, a U.S. observance started in 1994 to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history and the history of the gay rights movement.
September 15 – October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day,which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.
October 10: National Indigenous People’s Day promotes recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization.
October 11: National Coming Out Day. For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, this day celebrates coming out and the recognition of the 1987 march on Washington for gay and lesbian equality.
October 10: World Mental Health Day. The overall objective is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, eradicating stigma, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
October 19: International Pronoun Day. Seeks to make asking, sharing, and respecting personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities.
October 26: Intersex Awareness Day. To bring to light the challenges that intersex individuals face, as well as the concept of visibility and representation. It also leads into the culmination of the Intersex Day of Remembrance on the birthday of Herculine Barbin, also sometimes known as Intersex Solidarity Day on Nov 8th.
November is National Native American Heritage Month, which celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans.
The 2nd week of November is Trans Awareness Week.
November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance, established in 1998 to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, and to raise awareness of the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
November 24: The National Day of Mourning is an annual protest organized since 1970 by Native Americans of New England on the fourth Thursday of November, the same day Thanksgiving in the United States. It coincides with an unrelated similar protest, Unthanksgiving Day, held on the West Coast.
December 1: World AIDS Day, which was created to commemorate those who have died of AIDS, and to acknowledge the need for a continued commitment to all those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
December 3: International Day of People with Disabilities, which is designed to raise awareness in regards to persons with disabilities in order to improve their lives and provide them with equal opportunity.
December 10: International Human Rights Day, established by the United Nations in 1948 to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
December 26 – January 1: Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate universal African-American heritage.
January 16: Martin Luther King Day commemorates the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and an activist for non-violent social change until his assassination in 1968.
January 27: Holocaust Remembrance Day. A Day to remember all of the victims who were persecuted during World War II.
February is Black History Month in the United States and Canada. Since 1976, the month has been designated to remember the contributions of people of the African Diaspora.
February 1: National Freedom Day. Celebrates the signing of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865.
February 6: International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. This is a movement for the rights of women and their bodies, as well as the protection of their physical health. It is a UN-sponsored annual awareness day that is part of the effort to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against women and girls in various countries. UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global program to educated and accelerate the abandonment of FGM practices.
February 20: World Day of Social Justice. Social Justice Day is meant to remind people that advocacy and activism is what love and justice looks like. It is to uphold the principles of social justice by promoting gender equality, and the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants; it is meant to advance social justice by dismantling and removing barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.
February 21: International Mother Language Day. It is a worldwide annual observance to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism. Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. “One language disappears on average every two weeks, taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.” ~UNESCO Thus, this day is about preserving and celebrating one’s native tongue, and learned tongues.
March is Women’s History Month. Started in 1987, Women’s History Month recognizes all women for their valuable contributions to history and society.
March is also National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which was established to increase awareness and understanding of issues affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
March 1: Zero Discrimination Day. Zero Discrimination Day was first celebrated by UNAIDS, the United Nations' HIV/AIDS Program, in December of 2013. The following year, the UN and other global organizations officially celebrated the day on March 1st, 2014 in an effort to promote everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, skin color, height, weight, profession, education, and beliefs.
March 8: International Women’s Day. First observed in 1911 in Germany, it has now become a major global celebration honoring women’s economic, political, and social achievements.
March 25: Remembrance Day of the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history. Every year on 25 March, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honor and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
March 31: International Day of Trans Visibility. A time to celebrate transgender people around the globe and the courage it takes to live openly and authentically, while also raising awareness around the discrimination trans people still face.
April is Celebrate Diversity Month, started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. By celebrating differences and similarities during this month, organizers hope that people will get a deeper understanding of each other.
April 2: World Autism Awareness Day. Encourages Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people within the Autism Spectrum, and celebrate and recognize people living with Autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.
April 7: World Health Day. Part of the World Health Organization’s mission to advocate for “Health for All” - it is a wide-drive to support countries in moving towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
April 22: Earth Day promotes peace and sustainability of planet Earth, worldwide events are held to show support of environmental protection of the earth.
April 14: the Day of Silence on which students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.
May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks on the project were Chinese immigrants.
May 3: World Press Freedom Day. Celebrates the fundamental principles of freedom of the press, to evaluate press freedom (and lack thereof) from around the world, and to defend the media from attacks on their independence to report and speak about their nation’s policies, government, and actions. It also is meant to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
May 15: International Day of Families. Although families all over the world have transformed greatly over the past decades in terms of their structure, the United Nations still recognizes the family as the basic unit of society. The International Day of Families provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them. It has inspired a series of awareness-raising events, including national family days. In many countries, this day is an opportunity to highlight different areas of interest and importance to families, their beliefs, and their culture. So how does your family celebrate itself?
May 17: International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB). Created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQIA+ people internationally. It calls for LGBTQIA+ communities and allies to mobilize on a worldwide scale.
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on the world. LGBT groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings. The last Sunday in June is Gay Pride Day.
June 5: World Environment Day. United Nation's principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment.
June 12: Pulse Night of Remembrance. Annual day of US remembrance for the loss of 49 people, majority who identified as LGBTQIA+, in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida on 12 June 2016.
June 19: Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It is observed as a public holiday in 14 U.S. states. This celebration honors the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas and Louisiana finally heard they were free, two months after the end of the Civil War. June 19, therefore, became the day of emancipation for thousands of Blacks.
June 28: Stonewall Riots Anniversary.To remember the Stonewall Riots that are described as the start of the LGBTQIA+ Liberation Movement in the United States. It's a day for people to remember the biracial lesbian and drag king Stormé DeLarverie whose scuffle with the police started the rebellion, and the trans woman of color Marsha P. Johnson who threw the first brick.
July 14: International Non-Binary Day. Annual day celebrating the contributions of non-binary people and focusing on the issues affecting them, as well as raising awareness on what non-binary is and means.
July 18: Nelson Mandela International Day, launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18, 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said “It is in your hands now”. It is more than a celebration of “Madiba’s” life and legacy. It is a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.
July 26: Disability Independence Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
August 9: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Promotes and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. “On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources.” ~UN Secretary-General António Guterres
August 19: World Humanitarian Day. World Humanitarian Day is a day dedicated to recognize humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes.
August 23: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and the anniversary of the uprising in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that initiated the abolition of slavery in that nation.
August 26: Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the August 26, 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution that gave women the right to vote. Congresswoman Bella Abzug first introduced a proclamation for Women’s Equality Day in 1971. Since that time, every president has published a proclamation recognizing August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.