Chaplaincy guidance for University staff on religious festivals and regular observances

The University is home to a wide range of beliefs and approaches to observance amongst students and staff. This page is intended as an introductory guide for University staff which may be useful when working with students and colleagues. The information contained in these brief descriptions is not intended to be comprehensive, but to outline areas of observance which may occasionally have an impact on studies, attendance or facilities required by students.

Religious festivals

Students observing festivals may request to be absent from classes or leave early.

For many people, observing holy days and religious festivals is an important expression of their faith. A calendar of major religious festivals is available from the UK Inter Faith Network.

Where festivals involve fasting and/or prayer and reflection, this may result in disruption to a student’s normal diet, routine or sleep pattern. It is hoped that staff can be accommodating of these changes.

 

Key festivals for faiths represented on campus include:

  • Christmas (Christianity) – the festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ
  • Diwali (Sikhism and Hinduism)- a festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness
  • Guru Nanak (Sikhism) – celebration of Guru Nanak’s birthday
  • Lent (Christian) – the forty-day period of abstinence and contemplation prior to Easter (which marks the Crucifixion or Resurrection of Christ), usually falling in March or April.
  • Lunar New Year – widely celebrated in East Asian cultures including China, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Pesach/Passover (Judaism) – the celebration of liberation from slavery in Ancient Egypt.
  • Ramadan (Islam) – a period of fasting and contemplation ending in Eid al–Fitr.
  • Vesak (Buddhism) – celebration of the Buddha’s birthday
  • Yom Kippur (Judaism) – the Day of Atonement, the most important holiday of the Jewish faith, the culmination of ten days of contemplation and repentance following Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and usually observed with a 25 hour fast. A Calendar of Jewish Festivals and Fasts is available from the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

More information about some of these festivals and their religious context can be found on the ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) web pages.

Weekly observances 

Christianity 

Most Christians participate in congregational worship on Sundays. Some churches also organise congregational worship on other days of the week, as well as additional services during festivals. Depending on the denomination of Christianity, Sunday services may include Communion or Holy Mass. Some Christians choose to engage in congregational worship daily.

Holy Mass (Roman Catholic) is celebrated at the Chaplaincy daily at 12.10pm, Monday – Friday during Semester. Sunday Mass is also celebrated at 11am during semester.

Further information is vailable from the Catholic Society and Christian Union.

Islam

Many Muslims observe Salah five times daily. Salah can be translated as “prayer” or “communication with the divine”. Observing Salah requires an appropriate space, usually a quiet room with access to mats for the floor where Salah can be observed undisturbed. Each observance of Salah usually lasts only a few minutes, and the times for each Salah vary through the year.

Many Muslims also attend Jummah, a congregational prayer on Friday afternoons. The exact time for Jummah varies through the year.

The Strathclyde University Muslim Students Association (SUMSA) hosts Jummah prayer on campus and also has prayer facilities available throughout the week. Details of prayer times and other activities are posted on their social media pages.

The Chaplaincy also holds a small stock of prayer mats and can provide space for Salah.

Judaism

The Jewish day of rest, the Sabbath, starts at nightfall on Friday and ends at nightfall on Saturday. During this time the faithful are expected to rest, gather with family, and take time out from the stress and rush of everyday life. In order to avoid work on the Sabbath chores such as cleaning and shopping are completed before nightfall on Friday.