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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.  


  • Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day, raises awareness about the wider-than-average pay gap between Native American women and White men. Native American women are paid 57 cents for every dollar paid to White men. 


  • 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 4 - 5 (sundown to sundown)

  •  Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, a day of atonement marked by fasting and ceremonial repentance 


  • 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 


  •  Mawlid Al-Nabi, the observance of the birthday of Islam founder, the prophet Muhammad, celebrated during the month of Rabiulawal, the third month of the Muslim calendar. Shi’a Muslims celebrate it five days later than Sunni Muslims.   


  • Eid Milad un-Nabi, an Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad. During this celebration, homes and mosques are decorated, large parades take place, and those observing the holiday participate in charity events. 

OCTOBER 9 - 16

  • Sukkot, a seven-day Jewish festival giving thanks for the fall harvest 


  • 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. 
  • Columbus Day, This day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. 


  • 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 16 - 18 (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 17 - 18 (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. 


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


  • Diwali, the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh five-day festival of lights that celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and lightness over darkness. 

OCTOBER 25 - 26 (sundown to sundown)

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

OCTOBER 26 - 27 (sundown to sundown)

  • The birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í religion 
  • National Indigenous Peoples Day, an alternative celebration to Columbus Day, gives recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization.  


  • Latina Equal Pay Day. The aim is to raise awareness about the wider-than-average pay gap between Latinas and White men. Latinas are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to White men. 


  • 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