Religious Celebrations

An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations

by J. Gordon Melton, Editor
With James A. Beverley, Christopher Buck, and Constance A. Jones


The Kumbh Mela celebration in India is the largest religious gathering in the world, one in which millions participate. Similarly, the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, is the largest annual gathering of Muslims. Holidays and observances such as these mark the lives of observant individuals in nations around the world. Now one can study them all in one comprehensive resource.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Religious Celebrations

September 2011


Pages 1036
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Religion/General

This two-volume work presents a comprehensive survey of all the ways people celebrate religious life around the globe.

Religious Celebrations is an alphabetically organized encyclopedia that covers more than 800 celebratory occasions from all of the world's major religious communities as well as many of the minor faith traditions. The encyclopedia provides a complete reference tool for examining the myriad ways people worldwide celebrate their religious lives across religious boundaries, providing information on numerous celebratory activities never before covered in a reference work.

Offering the most comprehensive coverage of religious holidays ever assembled, this two-volume book covers festivals, commemorations, holidays, and annual religious gatherings all over the world, with special attention paid to the celebrations in larger countries. Entries written by distinguished researchers and specialists on different religious communities capture the unique intensity of each event, be it fasting or feasting, frenzied activity or the universal cessation of work, a huge gathering of the faithful en masse or a small family-centered event. The work spotlights celebrations that currently exist without overlooking now-abandoned celebrations that still impact the modern world.


  • More than 800 A–Z entries on religious holidays and calendars
  • Photographs of people celebrating various holidays around the world
  • A bibliography with each entry that offers sources for further research


  • Includes many holidays never before encompassed by a reference work
  • Concentrates on the modern world, but also covers some older celebrations
  • Considers both major and minor religious communities
Author Info

J. Gordon Melton is distinguished professor of American religious history at Baylor University, Waco, TX, and the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, located for many years in Santa Barbara, CA. Melton is the author of more than 40 books, including American Religions: An Illustrated History; Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions, now in its eighth edition; and A Will to Choose: The Origins of African American Methodism.



"The thorough index in the back is a wonderful supplement, as it adds a monthly focus (e.g., February celebrations) and a geographical focus (e.g., England, Ethiopia, Ireland) not found elsewhere in the work. A user-friendly, very interesting supplement to most religious collections, both academic and public."Booklist

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