November 2023 Heritage Celebrations

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office would like to take this opportunity to remind you of several celebrations, commemorations, and moments of raising awareness for members of our community during the month of November:

Heritage Month Celebrations:

Native and Indigenous Heritage Month (November): November is Native American Heritage month (also known as “National American Indian Heritage Month” and “Native American and Alaskan Native Heritage Month”). First recognized by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and commemorated by every president since, this month honors the cultures, histories, and legacies of America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal nations that continue to thrive here today. It celebrates the traditions, languages, and stories of hundreds of Native nations and works to ensure that their histories and contributions endure. This month also acknowledges the painful history Native and Indigenous Peoples in the United States have faced, one marked by unjust federal policies and state-sanctioned campaigns of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror. It recognizes that the effects of this history are still felt today, as evidenced by the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on Native and Indigenous communities and serves as a call to action to address persistent inequities.

UConn recognizes Native and Indigenous resilience and strength every day of the year. We acknowledge through the Land Acknowledgement Statement that our university sits on lands taken through violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror. We encourage reading this statement before any event held in UConn’s physical or digital spaces. UConn also serves as a vibrant hub for research, scholarship, and outreach among scholars, students, and Indigenous community members through the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative (NAISI). NAISI aims to become a center for the renewed presences of Indigenous Peoples in Connecticut, New England, and the entire Eastern region of the United States. We also honor the cultures, histories, and legacies of Native and Indigenous peoples through the Native American Cultural Programs (NACP), which provides programming, initiatives, resources, and trainings for the Native and Indigenous Peoples who make a home at UConn. Native and Indigenous students also find community at UConn through the Native American and Indigenous Student Association (NAISA).

We invite the entire UConn community to join us in commemorating Native American Heritage Month through the following events:

    • Friday, November 3rd: “A Conversation with U. S. Treasurer and Chief Lynn Malerba: A Journey of Leadership and Success” (Student Union Theater, 1 PM – 2 PM; doors open at 12:30 PM)

More events will be announced soon on the NACP website.


Federal and Cultural Holidays:

Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) (November 1-2): Día de los Muertos remembers lost loved ones, as well as ancestors, through food, music, and gatherings—it is a joyful celebration of their lives, rather than the mourning of their deaths. Originating in Mexico, it is celebrated worldwide by those with Mexican heritage. Traditions vary, but common traditions include una ofrenda (an altar) with flowers and food for the dead, individual offerings, and candles lit to help guide spirits back to their families.

National First-Generation Day (November 8): Since 2017, schools and universities across the country have dedicated this day to celebrating first-generation students, faculty, staff, and alumni. November 8th was selected to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, which increased federal funding and resources to help level the playing field for communities underserved in higher education. Notably, HEA ushered in the federal TRIO programs that increase access, retention, and completion for low-income, first-generation, and underserved minority populations. UConn has two TRIO Programs: Student Support Services, which supports this mission, and McNair Programs, which prepares first-generation, low-income, and historically underrepresented students for M.S. and Ph.D. studies in STEM disciplines.

World Freedom Day (November 9): World Freedom Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall. Established in 2001 by President George W. Bush, it celebrates freedom within democracy.

Veterans Day (November 11): Veterans Day pays tribute to all those who served in the United States Armed forces. It is separate from Memorial Day (the last Monday of May), which commemorates those who died while serving in the US military, and Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May), which honors those currently serving in the US military. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, which celebrated the cessation of hostilities during World War I that went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In 1954, this holiday was changed to “Veterans Day” to include veterans from all American wars.

UConn honors members of the US military and their families. The Office of Veterans and Military Programs (VAMP) will be holding its annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Friday, November 10th at 11am on Founders Green. All are invited and encouraged to join. VAMP also provides student support services specifically for veterans, active service members, and their families who are attending UConn. Their services include certifying VA educational benefits, assisting students in their transition to life at UConn, providing supplemental programs and activities to student veterans, and directing veterans to fully confidential mental and behavioral health assistance. VAMP works closely with the Center for Students with Disabilities which has a wealth of resources for veterans regardless of ability status, and the Center for Career Development.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20): The Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializes those who lost their lives to acts of anti-transgender violence. It raises public awareness about hate crimes directed at transgender and gender-diverse people and ensures that their lives are not forgotten. This is a day for expressing love and respect in the face of hatred or indifference. This day also helps raise awareness about issues the transgender and gender-diverse communities continue to face. UConn supports the transgender communities through the Rainbow Center, which provides spaces of refuge and community-building, as well as resources to help members of the transgender communities navigate life at UConn. Check their website and Instagram account for more.

Thanksgiving (November 23): Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. It is a day for expressing gratitude that, for many, is marked by family traditions, seeing loved ones, and kicking off the holiday season.

National Day of Mourning (November 23): The National Day of Mourning, which takes place on the fourth Thursday of November every year, was established in 1970 by the United American Indians of New England as a day to honor and mourn Native and Indigenous people lost to genocide and colonialism, as well as to commemorate Native and Indigenous resilience and resistance. Every year, as a part of this commemoration, UAINE holds an outdoor speak-out and march at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, MA. Many participants also fast from sundown the day prior to the event, and break their fast following the march, as a gesture of both mourning and of solidarity. To read more about this event, please visit UAINE’s website.

Holodomor Memorial Day (November 25): Holodomor Memorial Day is commemorated each year on the fourth Saturday of November as a Day of Remembrance to remember the millions of Ukrainians who were starved to death in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, many of whom were children. Through the years of 1932 – 1933, as a part of Stalin’s policies targeting Ukraine, wheat and other grains were forcibly exported to fund Stalin’s Five-Year Plan. During the height of Holodomor, 28,000 people died daily. 31% of those who died were under the age of 10.  Holodomor Memorial Day is dedicated to remembering those who died, and, alongside the descendants of survivors, spreading awareness of this chapter in history. For more information, the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium hosts a comprehensive archive of educational materials, which can be found here.

Native Women’s Equal Pay Day (November 30): On average, Native and Indigenous Women make 55 cents for every dollar made by white men of comparable skills and training (according to 2021 census data). This day marks the day that Native women need to work until they made what white men made in the previous year. On Native Women’s Equal Pay Day, activists, organizers, educators, and community members raise awareness and support causes that address this ongoing inequity.

Religious Holidays: November holds several significant religious holidays for members of the UConn Community:

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 1 and 2): These Christian holidays memorializes those who have died. All Saints’ Day commemorates all those who have reached heaven. Traditions vary by location and denomination, but it is celebrated by both Catholics and Protestants. Dates also vary; Western Christians celebrate on November 1st while Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate on the first Sunday following Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. All Souls’ Day is celebrated by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches, and some Anglican churches, though the three churches have doctrinal differences about this day.

Diwali (November 12): Diwali is the festival of lights, a major festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists. Although Diwali is a five-day celebration, the height of celebrations typically occurs on the third day – November 12th this year – which is the darkest day of the lunar month. Diwali is celebrated by billions of people around the world.  Though traditions may vary based on location and religious practice, the most common theme is the triumph of light over darkness. Diwali is generally a time to gather with families and celebrate the victory of good over evil.

Martyrdom of Guru Bahadur (November 24): This Sikh holiday commemorates the martyrdom of Guru Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, who sacrificed his life to protect people—including people from faiths other than his own—from religious persecution. Guru Bahadur’s martyrdom reflects two important principals of the Sikh faith: standing up for faith—including faiths one does not agree with—and standing up for others.

Jain New Year (November 27): Jains mark the New Year on the first day of the Hindu Month of Kartika, following the commencement of their Diwali celebration. This holiday marks the day that their founder, Mahavira, achieved moksha (salvation) in passing from his earthly life. On this day, Jains gather in the temple and perform the Snatra Puja ritual to worship the 24 Tirthankaras who founded their religion (Tirthankara is Sanskrit for “Ford-Maker,” a figure who has succeeded in crossing over life’s streams of rebirths and has made a path for others to follow). Mahavira is the last of the Tirthankaras.

Advent (December 3 through December 24): In Christianity, Advent is a period of preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas, as well as for preparing for Christ’s second coming. In Western churches, Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30th. Eastern Churches begin Advent 40 days before Christmas.

We welcome the celebration of each of these holidays on our campuses and encourage support for those requiring accommodations. You can find information and guidance about academic accommodations for religious observations on the Provost Office’s webpage.

To see more information about resources and events happening this month and throughout the semester, please visit our events page at ODI writes these letters in collaboration with our partners across the UConn system. If we inadvertently omitted a cultural or religious holiday, please let us know by emailing us at

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Frank, Anne, and Jeff

Frank Tuitt
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer

Anne D’Alleva
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Jeffrey F. Hines, MD
Associate Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, UConn Health