Clearing the Confusion on Lunar Dates: How, When, and Why to Celebrate These Sacred Lunar Days in 2024

Feature Contents
    Sacred lunar days 2024: why they’re important, when and how to celebrate Buddha Days, Tsog Feasts, Puja Days in Tibetan, Mahayana, and Theravada Buddhist traditions

    Lunar calendars can be confusing — especially since there are three systems: lunisiderial, lunisolar, and pure lunar. For this reason, our Lunar Dharma Dates calendar has different dates for Buddha Days, for example, since most of Asia and India use the lunisolar calendar while Tibetan Buddhism uses “skip days” and “double days” to make up for the difference in days between the lunar month/year and the solar. Since Tibetan Buddhism places a relatively larger emphasis on astrology and lunar, we have both the Lunisolar (traditional Chinese or Lunar calendar) and Tibetan Lunar dates indicated.

    Buddha Weekly Loi Krathong Festival on Khlong Ong Ang Canal dreamstime m 169884155 Buddhism
    Loi Krathong Festival on the Khlong Ong Ang Canal — an ancient ceremony of floating sacred vessels to worship the Buddha’s hair pagoda in heaven.

    Multiple dates: varies by tradition

    For example, this year (solar 2024) New Year in the West is January 1, 2024, while Losar Tibetan Lunar New Year and also Chinese New Year — the Year of the Dragon! — is February 10, 2024.  February 15 is Nirvana Day and February 24 is Lantern Festival. In Tibetan Buddhism, the 15th Day of the First Month — this year of February 24 — is the Day of Miracles.

    However, in 2024 — unlike 2023 — the Tibetan and Chinese Lunar Calendars mostly align, making it a less confusing year overall.

     

    New Year Confusion

    If you like New Years’ celebrations, you’ll be happy to know we mark four separate New Years!

    • Solar Calendar: January 1, 2024
    • Mahayana New Year: January 25, 2024
    • Tibetan New Year LOSAR: February 10, 2024
    • Chinese New Year: February 10, 2024
    • Theravadan New Year: April 24, 2024

     

    Buddha Weekly Paro Tsechu is one of the Tsechu is a Buddhist festival for Guru Rimpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan dreamstime m 126929481 Buddhism
    Para Tsechu is a Buddhist Festival honoring the great Guru Rinpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan (in the picture) and Tibet.

     

    Special Buddha Days

    The most important days of the Buddhist calendars — which are variously celebrated depending on the tradition) are always the Buddha Days:

    • Nirvana Day (and Lantern Festival): February 24, 2024
    • Magha Puja Day or Sangha Day: February 24, 2024
    • Buddha’s 15 Days of Miracles: February 10-24 More about these special days here>>
    • Buddha’s Day of Miracles: March 24, 2024
    • Vesak Buddha Day (Mahayana): May 23, 2024
    • Tibetan Vesak or Lord Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment and Paranirvana Day (Tibetan): May 23, 2024
    • Lord Buddha’s First Teaching Buddha Day (Tibetan) July 10, 2024
    • Asala Dharma Day (Theravadan): July 21, 2024
    • Obon (Japan): August 13, 2024
    • Lord Buddha’s Descent from God Real Day (Tibetan): November 15, 2024
    • Bodhi Day: December 9, 2024

    Special Buddha Days Mahayana Buddhism

    • Medicine Buddha Annual Day: January 18
    • Maitreya Buddha Special Day: February 9
    • Shakyamuni Buddha Renunciation Day: March 17
    • Ullambana All Souls Day (The textual origin of the festival is found in Buddha Speaks Ullambana Sutra.): September 18
    • Bodhi Day: December 8

    Annual Days

    In addition to the Buddha Days celebrated on various dates by all traditions, there are some sacred annual days unique to Tibetan Buddhism:

    • Lama Thubten Yeshe February 10, 2024
    • Milarepa Day: Feb 23, 2024
    • Lama Zopa Rinpoche: April 13, 2024
    • Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche: April 15, 2024
    • Guru Rinpoche Annual Day: June 16, 2024
    • His Holiness the Dalai Lama: July 6 (89th birthday this year! May His Holiness live long)
    • In the Japanese tradition, there is Obon or Ancestor Day, celebrating the ancestors, on August 28-30, 2024.
    • His Holiness Sakya Trichen 79th Birthday September 7, 2024
    • Lama Tsong Khapa December 25, 2024

     

    Buddha Weekly Celebrating light and Buddha Monks in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam dreamstime m 64353418 Buddhism
    Celebrating light and the Buddha — monks in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

     

    Eclipse Days

    In Tibetan Buddhism, days of lunar and solar eclipse are especially good for practice, and all merit from these activities is magnified. Eclipses for 2024 include:

    • March 25 Lunar Eclipse
    • April 8 Solar Eclipse
    • September 19 Lunar Eclipse
    • October 2 Solar Ecipse

     

    Lama Zopa at Lama Chopa Tsog puja
    H.E. Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Lama Chopa Tsog. Tsog’s are celebrated in Tibetan Buddhism every lunar month on the lunar 10th and 25th. For a detailed feature on Tsog, see>>

     

    Monthly Lunar Practices

    Especially in Tibetan Buddhism, New Moon, Full Moon and 10th and 25th of the Lunar month are all important. For those with Highest Yoga Tantra commitments, the lunar 10th and 25th Tsog (Tsok) are commitments. The Tsog on the 10th is dedicated to the Dakas and the 25th to the Dakinis. The 10th is also monthly Guru Rinpoche Day.

     

    Buddha Weekly Buddha full moon. jpg Buddhism
    Buddha statue against a full moon. Lunar calendar is very important in Buddhism, with most major events celebrated according to the lunar calendar.

     

    The practices on the full moon are especially meritorious, and usually include Medicine Buddha Pujas and other auspicious activities. Full moon is on the 15th of any lunar month.

    Full Moon Day: All Practices

    Full Moon is very special every month for all practices, with all merit increased. This is the day for Amitabha Pujas, Medicine Buddha Pujas, or a second Tara Puja (the main date being the 8th of the lunar month for Tara).
    • January 25
    • February 24
    • March 25
    • April 23
    • May 23
    • June 22
    • July 21
    • August 19
    • September 18
    • October 17
    • November 15
    • December 15

    Tara Days: 8th of the Lunar Month

    The Eighth of the lunar month is also auspicious for all pujas and is especially sacred to Tara — often called Tara Day. Medicine Buddha Pujas are also common on this day.

    These are the Tara Days in 2024 on the 8th of the Lunar Month:

    • January 18
    • February 17
    • March 17
    • April 16
    • May 15
    • June 14
    • July 14
    • August 12
    • September 11
    • October 10
    • November 9
    • December None — as it’s an astrological skip month with no 8th day.

     

    Buddha Weekly Green Tara video Buddha Weekly Buddhism
    Tara’s day every month is the eighth lunar day. Many monasteries celebrate both Tara and Medicine Buddha pujas on this day — for the benefit of all sentient beings. Tara is the savior Buddha, the Wisdom Mother. For more about Tara, see our special section on Tara>>

     

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    Lee Kane

    Author | Buddha Weekly

    Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
    Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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