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K-State Today

March 14, 2022

Weekly global religious, spiritual and nonreligious observance information

Submitted by Stefan Yates

The President's Committee on Religion, Spirituality and Nonreligious Diversity presents the global observance information for March 14-20.

March 14 at sundown until sundown March 17 — Purum: Judaism

Purim is celebrated on the 14th day in the month Adar using the Jewish calendar. For the Gregorian calendar, the day falls in the months of February and March. The day commemorates when the Jewish people were saved from a Persian death decree. Esther is the heroine in this one-day event that includes readings from the scroll of Esther, charity to the poor, gifts to friends and a joyous celebration with dancing long into the night with good food and alcohol. Purim is sometimes referred to as the Jewish mas de gras.

The themes of this 2,500-year-old story are still very relevant to modern Jews. Tracey Rich of Judaism 101 sees modern echoes of Purim in both the Nuremberg trials, after which 10 of Hitler's top associates were hanged, and in Stalin's death by a stroke before his plans to deport Jews could be carried out. Amy Kramer of EverythingJewish.com explains, "The story of Purim presents the eternal story of the Jew threatened in a strange land. For this reason we are commanded to read the Book of Esther. Still in exile, Purim is a reminder that we, as Jews, must resist becoming too complacent in our lives." 

March 17 St. Patrick's Day — Christianity

This observance honors a fifth-century Christian missionary to Ireland who succeeded in converting Irish pagans to the faith. St. Patrick is regarded as the patron saint of Ireland. In Ireland, the traditions are generally still regarded as religious and celebrations continue for a week. The day is now widely celebrated as a secular holiday in several parts of the world, including the U.S. Traditions include parades and eating cabbage and corned beef — a substitute for Irish bacon started in the U.S. — and wearing green and shamrocks, three-leaf clovers. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the trinity to the Irish; however, it was also a sacred Celtic symbol of the birth of spring. Nowadays, the shamrock is also a symbol of Irish nationalism.

March 17 Holi — Hinduism

Holi was originally a celebration of spring and still retains aspects of this meaning. There is much merriment and throwing of colored waters over people in celebration of the coming of spring and an end to winter. Holi is celebrated all over India and includes permission to abandon social norms and bring people together without regard to caste, sex and other divisions.

March 20 Ostara — Pagan

The word "Ostara" comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess name, Eostre. Eostre represented spring and beginnings, the new agricultural cycle. One of the symbols of this observance has been the March hare, a representation of fertility that is still seen in chocolate celebrations of Easter in the West.

The President's Committee on Religious, Spiritual and Nonreligious Diversity welcomes those of all global religious, spiritual and nonreligious commitments. Further, we welcome any suggestions, questions or other comments. Please contact the chair, Bev Earles, at earles@k-state.edu.