Buddhism Holidays and Festivals

Buddhism Holidays and Festivals
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Buddha sits beneath a tree, meditating. A dove holding an olive branch flies toward him.

What is Buddhism?

Lesson Plans by Liane Hicks

Buddhism is practiced by over 500 million people worldwide and is the world's fourth largest religion. Buddhism is about 2,500 years old and began in the 6th century based on the teachings of the Buddha. While it began in India, within a few centuries Buddhism spread throughout Asia. Today, Buddhists live all around the world but are mainly concentrated in East and Southeast Asia. It is a religion centered on peace and tranquility and the importance of leading a moral and good life.


Storyboard Description

A key feature of many major religions are their holidays and festivals. Students can use a spider map to illustrate and describe the major holidays for a world religion. This storyboard focuses on Buddhist holidays.

Storyboard Text

  • During the Full Moon! During the Full Moon!
  • May
  • Like most Asian traditions, Buddhists follow a lunar calendar. Every month in the lunar calendar begins when there is a new moon and each month lasts 29-30 days. Each Buddhist year is about 10 days shorter than the Western year. The important days of the month for Buddhists are days when there is a full moon or a new moon.
  • The main festival of the year is Buddha Day, Wesak, or Vesak. It is a celebration of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death. Homes are decorated with colorful lanterns and flags. Buddhists visit their local temples for services and teachings, and give offerings to the monks.
  • New Year is a time for meditation, self reflection, and finding ways to improve oneself. It also includes cleaning and decorating the home and giving gifts for good luck. Many Buddhists observe the Chinese New Year celebration, however others may celebrate on a different day. It is dependent on the country and the sect of Buddhism.
  • July
  • February
  • Dharma Day is celebrated in by Theravada Buddhists on the full moon day of July. It marks the beginning of the Buddha's teaching. Soon after the Buddha's enlightenment, he went to find his disciples and tell them about his experience.
  • Parinirvana Day, or Nirvana Day, commemorates the day when the Buddha died and achieved Parinirvana (complete Nirvana). It is said that when Buddha was 81 years old, he knew that the time had come for him to die, so he lay down and died peacefully beneath the same Bodhi tree where he first reached enlightenment. It is observed in February.
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