May 2 is the celebration of Pascha, or Easter, for Orthodox Christians.
While many Christians celebrated Easter on April 4, Orthodox Easter is determined by the Julian calendar, whereas Western Christians use the Gregorian calendar. This means the Orthodox celebration is usually after the Western church, sometimes, as this year, by many weeks. On occasion, it can be the same day, which will next happen in 2025.
Pascha is the Greek and Latin word for Easter and is the root word for the French word for Easter: Pâques.
Other religions are also marking specials days this week:
Beltane is observed May 1 by Wiccans and Neo-Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a celebration of the conjoining of the goddess and god in the sacred marriage that is the basis of all creation. Its fall counterpart is Samhain on Nov. 1 and is a precursor to Halloween.
Beltane was a traditional observance in Ireland and Scotland. This festival was the beginning of summer, when animals were put to pasture. Fire was a major part of the celebration. The oldest mention of Beltane is from around the year 900 and described cattle being driven between two bonfires as a protection from disease.
In the Southern Hemisphere, Samhain, a remembrance of the deceased, is observed on May 1.
Beltane festivities included Maypole dances and decorating with greenery and flowers.
May 2 is the last of the 12-day celebration of Ridvan by the Baha'i.
Baha'i commemorate the period from 1863 when Baha'u'llah declared that he was God's messenger. Work is to be suspended on days one, nine and 12 of the festival.
Baha'u'llah became very influential, prompting authorities in Baghdad to send him and his followers to Constantinople. Before his departure in 1863, Baha’u’llah went to a garden that has become known as the Garden of Ridvan, which means paradise, good pleasure or splendor. He spent 12 days there, preparing for the long journey. Guests of all walks of life came to pay their respects. At some point in this period, Baha'u'llah declared to some of the people gathered that he was the Promised One.
The National Day of Prayer in the United States is held on the first Thursday of May.
The nationaldayofprayer.org website says it is run by a task force that “represents a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.”
The day was signed into law in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that designated the first Thursday in May as the annual observance.
At the site’s history link, find out about how Conrad Hilton Sr., founder of Hilton Hotels, and Sen. Frank Carlson, of Kansas, helped pass the bill Truman signed.
There are two special days within the Muslim monthlong fast of Ramadan. One of them is Lailat al-Qadr, which you'll find with different spellings, including Laylat and Kadr.
The Night of Destiny, as it is also known, falls on May 8. This is the Night of Power or Decree when the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Quran.
Muslims try to stay up all night praying and reading the Quran, often at the mosque.
Muhammad did not tell people specifically which night the Night of Power is. He suggested that it is in the last 10 days of Ramadan, so many people spend the last 10 days in prayer and reading.
The second special day marks the end of the fast and is one of Islam's two major festivals. Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Charity, starts when the new moon is sighted on the first day of Shawwal (the month after Ramadan), which will be at sundown May 12. Eid is an Arabic word that means festival or time of happiness.
SOURCES: interfaith-calendar.org/2021.htm; history.com/topics/holidays/history-of-easter; britannica.com/topic/Easterholiday; assa.org.au/edm#Method; britannica.com/topic/Beltane; beliefnet.com/faiths/bahai/ridvn-king-of-festivals.aspx; bahai-library.com/walbridge_encyclopedia_ridvan; bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/holydays/lailatalqadr.shtml; The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, Johnathan Z. Smith, editor; The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions, Keith Crim, editor; Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, Wendy Doniger, editor; World Religions, John Bowker; Dictionary of Christianity by J.C. Cooper