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October Diversity Holidays

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This observance was launched in 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1998, the week was extended to a month and renamed. The annual event draws attention to employment barriers that still need to be addressed. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. Betty Ford helped kick off the week-long event, as she was herself a survivor of breast cancer. She was diagnosed when her husband, Gerald Ford, was president of the United States and brought even more attention to breast cancer. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month we acknowledge all whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, a US observance started in 1994 to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer history and the history of the gay rights movement.  

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month, a month to celebrate and increase awareness about the diversity of cultures and ethnicities and the positive impact diversity can have on society.  

October is Italian-American Heritage Month, recognizing the contributions and achievements of Italian-Americans. Over 26 million Americans of Italian descent currently reside in the U.S. — making up America’s seventh largest ethnic group.

October is Polish American Heritage Month, celebrated to commemorate the first Polish settlers, and
celebrate the history and culture of the Polish community in America.


  • St. Francis Day, feast day for St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, celebrated by many Catholic denominations 
  • Blessing of the Animals, in congruence with St. Francis Day. Many Unitarian Universalists have picked up on the Catholic tradition of blessing animals, particularly pets, as St. Francis was known for his special connection to animals. 

OCTOBER 6 - 7 (sundown to sundown)

  • Shemini Atzeret, a Jewish holiday also known as The Eighth (Day) of Assembly, takes place the day after the Sukkot festival, where gratitude for the fall harvest is deeply internalized.  

OCTOBER 7 - 8 (sundown to sundown)

  • Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday, marks the end of the weekly readings of the Torah. The Torah is read from chapter one of Genesis to Deuteronomy 34 and then back to chapter one again, in acknowledgement of the words of the Torah being a never-ending cycle. 


  • National Indigenous Peoples Day, recognizes, and honors the beautiful traditions and cultures of the Indigenous People, not just in America, but around the world.
  • Columbus Day, This day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492.


  • Canadian Thanksgiving, a chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year 
  • World Mental Health Day. First celebrated in 1993, this day is meant to increase public awareness about the importance of mental health, mental health services, and mental health workers worldwide. 


  • National Coming Out Day (United States). For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, this day celebrates coming out and the recognition of the 1987 march on Washington for gay and lesbian equality. 

OCTOBER 15 - 24 (sundown to sundown)

  • Navratri, the nine-day festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil. Festival participants worship God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as Durga, Devi, or Shakti, and the event marks the start of fall.   

OCTOBER 15 - 16 (sundown to sundown)

  • Birth of Báb, a Bahá’í holiday celebrating the birth of the prophet Báb 

OCTOBER 16 - 17 (sundown to sundown)

  • The birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í religion 


  • International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Each year it is held on the third Wednesday of October.   


  • Sikh Holy Day, the day Sikhs celebrate Sri Guru Granth Sahib, their spiritual guide  


  • Dasara, Dussehra, or Vijayadashami, in the eastern and northeastern states of India, marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to help restore dharma 


  • All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), a celebration observed in a number of countries on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. 
  • Reformation Day, a Protestant Christian religious holiday celebrated alongside All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) during the triduum of Allhallowtide in remembrance of the onset of the Reformation  

OCTOBER 31 - NOVEMBER 1 (sundown to sundown)

  • Samhain, a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter