Below is a partial list of church seasons, religious holidays, and secular holidays that can be used to incorporate creation-awareness/care days throughout the liturgical year.
Greek Epiphany: January 19 – Blessing of the Water.
Tu B’Shvat: end of January – The Jewish New Year of Trees. For more information, go to the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life‘s web site.
Plow Monday: first Monday after Epiphany – Blessing of tools, plows, and other work implements in preparation for spring planting.
Birkat HaHammah: April 8, 2037 – Jewish communities around the world participate in a unique ritual that occurs only once every 28 years. They celebrate the return of the sun to its original place in the heavens at the precise time and day of creation by reciting Birkat HaHammah, a blessing on the sun. This event celebrates our natural world and all its blessings, recognizing the cycles of life that sustain us all.
Earth Day: April 22 – Many congregations observe this international event (which began in 1970) to celebrate God’s creation and/or to draw attention to environmental crises and ways to respond to them.
Earth Day often falls during the Easter season in the Christian calendar when churches celebrate the resurrection that has “made all things new.” In the Northern Hemisphere, Easter Day comes every year on the Sunday following spring’s first full moon. This is the season in which churches and the natural world celebrate rebirth and new life.
Rogation Days: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the sixth week of Easter – “Soil Stewardship Week.” Often entire congregations (sometimes in partnership with other congregations) take part in outdoor, public processions with songs and litanies. In rural areas, this is a time for blessing fields. In urban areas, many congregations now bless gardens, local businesses (especially ones that enhance communities and ecosystems), sites of ecological restoration, etc.
United Nations Environmental Sabbath/Earth Rest Day: first Sunday in June – click here for The United Nations Environmental Sabbath Service intended for this day.
Sukkot: late September to early October – The Jewish Fall Harvest Festival and one of the main Jewish festivals. Plants known as the Four Species are used to bless temporary dwellings and remember the Exodus.
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi: October 4 – Many congregations celebrate St. Francis’ broad, compassionate vision with a Blessing of the Animals and other creation-honoring offerings (e.g., tree plantings, special prayers, a hike, etc.).
Thanksgiving (U.S.): fourth Thursday in November – Some congregations make this an opportunity to share Earth’s gifts more equitably with others. For example, some take part in Oxfam America’s annual “Fast for a World Harvest” the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
International Arbor Day: December 22 – In warmer climates, congregations can plant trees on this day – in honor of Arbor Day and the new life that Christmas brings.
Advent and Christmas Day: end of November through December 25 – Anticipating and celebrating God’s incarnate presence in creation. For resources to help celebrate this time in less consumptive, more Christ-centered ways, visit Alternatives for Simple Living’s web site.
See also: Advent and Christmas Devotions