A guide to 2015 religious holidays and their dates this year, including Palm Sunday, Passover, Good Friday, Easter, Ramadan and Diwali.
Palm Sunday — March 29
Palm Sunday — the start of many Christians’ Holy Week leading up to Easter — marks the day more than 2,000 years ago of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into the city of Jerusalem. The man from Palestine knew he faced the possibility he would be killed by the Romans. Five days later, he was whipped, tortured, forced to walk through the city with a large cross, and finally was nailed to it. Those of the Greek Orthodox faith celebrate religious holidays according to a different calendar. Above, Catalina Segura, of Brentwood, prays with cross in hand at a Palm Sunday Mass at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church in Brentwood on April 13, 2014.
Holy Thursday — April 2
The Thursday before Easter Sunday, also called Maundy Thursday, commemorates the day Jesus had the Last Supper with his 12 disciples. It is one day before Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified by the Romans. Many churches mark Holy Thursday with a traditional foot-washing, often performed by a priest or minister, a symbolic re-enactment of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper. Above, Pope Francis arrives for the Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The Mass marks the start of the Easter celebrations.
Passover — Starts April 3
Passover, a major holiday of the Jewish faith, is the start of a weeklong commemoration of the Jews' historic exodus from slavery in Egypt 3,300 years ago. Each year, it starts at sundown on a Friday. Many Jews mark the start of the major holiday with festive seder ritual dinners, which generally take place the first and second nights of Passover. In remembrance of this historic event, many Jewish people eat only matzo during this week, not any bread or bread products that are unleavened. Above, Carol Feig, center, with husband Bill, left, celebrate Passover at a seder at Temple Emanu-El in Long Beach on March 26, 2013.
Good Friday — April 3
The Friday before Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus' condemnation to death 2,000 years ago; his journey to Golgotha, outside Jerusalem, carrying the cross; and his crucifixion and death. Many Christians mark Good Friday by attending re-enactments of the 14 Stations of the Cross, a series of images that depict his final hours. The Stations of the Cross also are called the Way of Sorrows or the Via Dolorosa. Above, hundreds of faithful Catholics gathered for the Stations of the Cross re-enactment April 18, 2014, along Second Avenue in Brentwood.
Easter — April 5
The holiest day of the religious year for many Christians, Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The faithful believe that three days after Jesus was crucified by Romans at Golgotha just outside Jerusalem’s walls, he rose from the dead. In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Those of the Greek Orthodox faith celebrate religious holidays according to a different calendar. Above, Jeanette Ravenell worships at the Union Baptist Church in Hempstead on Easter Sunday on March 31, 2013.
Ramadan — Starts June 17
The holiest month of the year for Muslims, Ramadan is marked by fasting from sunrise to sunset. The date it begins moves from year to year based on the lunar calendar, and it can occur in summer, meaning that believers may fast up to 16 hours. One of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan commemorates when the prophet Muhammad received the Quran, the holiest book in Islam, from the angel Gabriel in the year 610. It is a time of self-reflection, charity and making amends with those one has offended. Another hallmark is a recitation of the entire Quran, one chapter a night, for 30 nights. Above, Ramadan observers gather at the Islamic Center of Long Island mosque to break fast on July 1, 2014.
Diwali — Starts Nov. 11
Diwali, known as the “Festival of Lights,” is a major holiday for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. As part of the five-day observance, the faithful light their homes with lamps, don new clothes, serve feasts and sweets, exchange gifts, and pray. Each religion has different reasons for celebrating the holiday, though all generally light lamps or electric bulbs to signify the victory of good over evil. Above, an Indian Sikh devotee lights candles at his faith's holiest shrine, the illuminated Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, during Diwali on Nov. 3, 2013.