JMU is committed to creating a more inclusive campus. This is an effort to build awareness and understanding of important holidays and observances of the diverse groups that comprise our university community.

Feedback or recommendations are welcome. Please use this form or click the gray button above to submit recognized non-partisan and apolitical holidays/events and awareness months or days that are celebrated by a cultural, national, religious, ethnic or affinity group.

2023 Cultural Observations
By Date:

January 1 - New Year’s Day

January 1 - Gantan-Sai (Shinto New Year)

January 4 - World Braille Day
Observed in order to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people.

January 6 - Epiphany or Día de los Reyes (Three Kings' Day)
This day recognizes the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus 12 days after his birth. The holiday is observed by both Eastern and Western churches.

January 7 - Christmas
Christmas is recognized on this day by Eastern Orthodox Christians - 13 days later than other Christian churches - because they follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian version of the Western calendar.

January 7 - Mahayana New Year

January 15 - Makar Sankranti (Maghi)
Sikh commemoration of a battle in which forty Sikhs died for Guru Gobind Singh Ji. This day is also celebrated as a winter harvest festival through bathing and giving charity.

January 15 - World Religion Day
Observed by those of the Bahá’í faith to promote interfaith harmony and understanding.

January 16 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day
This day commemorates the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and an activist for non-violent social change until his assassination in 1968.

January 19 - Timkat
A holiday observed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who celebrate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River on Epiphany.

January 20 - Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Birthday
Guru Gobind Singh Ji's was the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs who initiated the Sikhs as the Khalsa (the pure ones). He is known as the Father of the Khalsa.

January 22 - Chinese New Year
Lunar New Year, one of the most sacred of all traditional Chinese holidays, is a time of family, reunion and celebration.

January 27 - International Holocaust Remembrance Day
An International Day of Commemoration to remember the victims of the Holocaust. The anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945 and U.N. Holocaust Memorial Day.

January 30 - CTE Awareness Day (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy)
This is a day to reflect on those lost to CTE, how to help those suffering with the disease and how to stop the disease.

All Month:

Black History Month
February is Black History Month in the United States and Canada. Since 1976, the month has been designated to remember the contributions of people of the African diaspora.

By Date:

February 1 - National Freedom Day
Celebrates the signing of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865.

February 1 through sundown February 2 – St. Brigid's Day
Feast day for St. Brigid of Kildare that is celebrated by some Christian denominations.

February 1 through sundown February 2 - Imbolc (later called "St Brigid's Day" by Christians)
A Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring.

February 2 - Candlemas
A Christian holiday that celebrates three occasions according to Christian belief: the presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus' first entry into the temple; and the Virgin Mary's purification.

February 3 - Setsubun 
The day before the beginning of spring in Japan, it is celebrated yearly as part of the Spring Festival.

February 4 - World Cancer Day

February 5 - Mexican Constitution Day
The document included significant social reforms to labor laws and provided for equality without discrimination, among other reforms.

February 5 - Chinese Lantern Festival
The first significant feast after Chinese New Year.

February 15 - Parinirvana Day (Nirvana Day)
A regional observance of the death of the Buddha. It celebrates the day when the Buddha is said to have achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, upon the death of his physical body.

February 18 - Maha Shivaratri
A Hindu holiday that honors Shiva, one of the Hindu deities.

February 19 through February 22 - Carnival 
Held between the Sunday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, it is the last festival before the beginning of Lent, the forty-day period before Easter.

February 20 - Presidents' Day
A federally recognized celebration in the United States of George Washington's birthday.

February 22 - Ash Wednesday
The first day of Lent on the Christian calendar. Its name is derived from the symbolic use of ashes to signify penitence. It takes place immediately after the excesses of the two days of Carnival that take place in Northern Europe and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

February 26 - Cheesefare Sunday or Forgiveness Sunday
This is the last Sunday prior to the commencement of Great Lent for Orthodox Christians.

February 28 - Rare Disease Day
This day harnesses the creativity and energy of the millions of people around the world with rare diseases - a day to raise awareness and generate action.

All Month:

Women's History Month
Started in 1987, Women's History month recognizes all women for their valuable contributions to history and society.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
Established to increase awareness and understanding of issues affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month
Established to raise public awareness of the autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and assist those with multiple sclerosis in making informed decisions about their health care.

Greek-American Heritage Month

Gender Equality Month

Irish-American Heritage Month

Ethnic Equality Month

By Date:

March 1 - International Wheelchair Day
This day honors the positive impact wheelchairs have for people with disabilities. We also acknowledge the incredible things wheelchair users accomplish every day.

March 6 - Māgha Pūjā Day
A Buddhist holiday that marks an event early in the Buddha's teaching life when a group of 1,250 enlightened monks, ordained by the Buddha, spontaneously gathered to pay their respect to him.

March 6-7 - Purim
A Jewish celebration that marks the time when the Jewish community living in Persia was saved from genocide. According to the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus’s political advisor planned to have all the Jews killed; however, his plot was foiled when Esther, one of the king’s wives, revealed her Jewish identity. On Purim, Jewish people offer charity and share food with friends.

March 8 - International Women’s Day
First observed in 1911 in Germany, it has now become a major global celebration honoring women’s economic, political, and social achievements.

March 8 - Holi
A Hindu and Sikh spring religious festival observed in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, along with other countries that have large Hindu and Sikh populations.

March 11 - World Day of Muslim Culture, Peace, Dialogue and Film
This special observance focuses on sharing and discussing Muslim culture and using various art forms for creating bridges and dialogue of understanding. Its aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the diversity inherent to Muslim culture and initiate dialogue with people of other faiths.

March 15 - Chaharshanbe Suri/Persian Festival of Fire
Iranian festival celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz (the Iranian New Year). It is celebrated with firework displays and the jumping over of fires.

March 17 - Saint Patrick's Day
Christian celebration of Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland in early days of the faith.

March 20 (northern hemisphere) - Ostara

March 20 through March 21 - Baháʼí Naw-Rúz

March 21 - World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
This day is observed annually in the wake of the 1960 killing of 69 people at a demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in South Africa. The United Nations proclaimed the day in 1966 and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

March 22 through April 21 - Ramadan
An occasion to focus on faith through fasting and prayer, and is one of the most important Muslim holidays. Ramadan is notable because the Qur’an was first revealed during this month, and Muslims see the Qur’an as the ultimate form of guidance for mankind. 

March 25 - International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery
The Transatlantic Slave Trade is a United Nations international observation that offers the opportunity to honor and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. First observed in 2008, the international day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

March 30 - Rama Navami
Celebrates the birth of Rama, the seventh incarnation of God Vishnu. It is one of the most important Hindu festivals. Some highlights of this day include: Kalyanam, a ceremonial wedding performed by temple priests; panakam, a sweet drink prepared on this day with jaggery and pepper; and a procession of murtis in the evening, accompanied by playing with water and colors.

March 31 - International Transgender Day of Visibility
This day is celebrated to bring awareness to transgender people and their identities as well as recognize those who helped fight for rights for transgender people.

All Month:

Celebrate Diversity Month
Started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. By celebrating differences and similarities during this month, organizers hope that people will get a deeper understanding of each other.

World Autism Month
Established to raise awareness about the developmental disorder that affects children's normal development of social and communication skills.

Community Service Month

Earth Month

National Arab American Heritage Month

Tartan (Scottish-American) Heritage Month

By Date:

April 2 - Palm Sunday
A holiday recognized by Christians to commemorate the entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. It is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week.

April 4 - Mahavir Jayanti
Jain festival honoring Lord Mahavira on the founder's birthday. Shrines are visited. Teachings are reviewed and reflected upon.

April 5 through April 13 - Passover
An eight-day festival in commemoration of the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.

April 9 - Easter
Annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

April 14 - National Day of Silence
A national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ students and allies all around the country - and the world - take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools.

April 14 - Vaisakhi (also spelled Baisakhi)
This day celebrates the founding of the Sikh community as the Khalsa (community of the initiated) and the birth of the Khalsa.

April 17 through April 18 - Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah)
A day to remember the lives and names of Jewish victims and activists of the Holocaust.

April 18 - Laylat al-Qadr
The holiest night of the year for Muslims, is traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of Ramadan. It is known as the Night of Power and commemorates the night that the Quran was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad.

April 22 - Earth Day
This day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national, and local policy changes.

April 28 through April 29 - The Ninth Day of Ridván
A festival of joy and unity. Riḍván (Rez-wahn) is a twelve-day festival that commemorates the beginning of the Bahá'í Faith in 1863.

All Month:

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage Month

Haitian Heritage Month

Indian Heritage Month

South Asian Heritage Month

Older Americans Month
Established in 1963 to honor the legacies and contributions of older Americans and to support them as they enter their next stage of life.

Mental Health Month
Aims to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses and reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.

Personal History Awareness Month

Speech and Hearing Awareness Month

Williams Syndrome Awareness Month

By Date:

May 1 - International Workers’ Day/Labor Day
This day is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement.

May 5 - Cinco de Mayo
This holiday commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). This day celebrates Mexican culture and heritage, including parades and mariachi music performances.

May 8 - Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for those who Lost their Lives during WWII

May 17 - International Day Against Homophobia
A global celebration of sexual-orientation and gender diversities.

May 21 - World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
Marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

May 28 - Pentecost
This day is celebrated on the 50th day (the seventh Sunday) from Easter Sunday and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles.

May 30 - Memorial Day
A federal holiday established to honor military veterans who died in wars fought by American forces.

All Month:

Pride Month
Established to recognize the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on the world.

National Caribbean-American Heritage Month

Black Music Appreciation Month

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

Dravet Syndrome Awareness Month

Cataract Awareness Month

By Date:

June 2 – American Indian Citizenship Day
This day commemorates the day in 1924 when the U.S. Congress passed legislation recognizing the citizenship of Native Americans.

June 8 - Corpus Christi
A Catholic holiday celebrating the presence of the body and blood of Christ, in the Eucharist.

June 11 - Race Unity Day

June 14 - Flag Day

June 18 - Autistic Pride Day

June 19 - Juneteenth
Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It is observed as a public holiday in 14 U.S. states. This celebration honors the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas and Louisiana finally heard they were free, two months after the end of the Civil War. June 19, therefore, became the day of emancipation for thousands of African-Americans.

June 21 - National Indigenous Peoples Day or First Nations Day
This is a day that gives recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization in Canada.

June 24 - Litha
The summer solstice celebrated by the Wiccans and Pagans. It is the longest day of the year, representing the sun’s “annual retreat.”

June 28 through June 29 - Eid al-Adha
An Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Muslims around the world observe this event.

All Month:

French-American Heritage Month

By Date:

July 1 - Canada Day, or Fête du Canada
A Canadian federal holiday that celebrates the 1867 enactment of the Constitution Act, which established the three former British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as a united nation called Canada.

July 3 – Asalha Puja, or Dharma Day
A celebration of Buddha’s first teachings.

July 4 - Independence Day
A United States federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The original 13 American colonies declared independence from Britain and established themselves as a new nation known as the United States of America.

July 4 - Filipino-American Friendship Day

July 11 - World Population Day
An observance established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme. The annual event is designed to raise awareness of global population issues.

July 14 - Bastille Day
A French federal holiday that commemorates the Storming of the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris that held political prisoners who had displeased the French nobility. The Storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789, was regarded as a turning point of the French Revolution.

July 18 - Nelson Mandela International Day
A day for the recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday via unanimous decision of the U.N. General Assembly. It is more than a celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and to change the world for the better.

July 24 - Pioneer Day
This day is observed by the Mormons to commemorate the arrival in 1847 of the first Latter Day Saints pioneer in Salt Lake Valley.

July 26 - American Disabilities Act Day, National Disability Independence Day
This day celebrates the anniversary of the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

July 26 through July 27 -Tisha B'Av

July 30 - International Day of Friendship

All Month:

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

National Civility Month

By Date:

August 1 - Lammas
A festival to mark the annual wheat harvest within some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere.

August 1 - Lughnasadh
A Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season.

August 6 through August 12 - International Assistance Dog Week
Created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations.

August 7 - National Purple Heart Day
A time for Americans to remember and honor the brave men and women who were either wounded on the battlefield or paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

August 9 - International Day of the World's Indigenous People
People from around the world are encouraged to spread the UN's message on the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples.

August 13 - International Lefthanders Day
A day to raise awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed in a predominantly right-handed world.

August 13-15 - Obon (Ulambana)
A Buddhist festival and Japanese custom for honoring the spirits of ancestors.     

August 17 - Marcus Garvey Day
The birthday of the Jamaican politician and activist who is revered by Rastafarians. Garvey is credited with starting the Back to Africa movement, which encouraged those of African descent to return to the land of their ancestors during and after slavery in North America.

August 19 - World Humanitarian Day
The world commemorates humanitarian workers killed and injured in the course of their work, and we honor all aid and health workers who continue, despite the odds, to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need.

August 23 - International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade
The anniversary of the uprising in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that initiated the abolition of slavery in that nation.

August 26 - Women's Equality Day
Commemorates the August 26, 1920, certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution that gave women the right to vote.

August 30 - Raksha Bandhan
A Hindu holiday that commemorates the loving kinship between a brother and sister.


All Month:

September 15 through October 15 - Hispanic Heritage Month

This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.

National Guide Dog Month

World Alzheimer’s Month

By Date:

September 4 - Labor Day
Labor Day honors the contribution that laborers have made to the country and is observed on the first Monday of September.

September 8 - Feast of Nativity (12 Great Feasts)

September 11 through September 18 - Paryushana Parva
A Jain festival lasting about eight to ten days that is observed through meditation and fasting. Its main focus is spiritual upliftment, pursuit of salvation and a deeper understanding of the religion.

September 15 - International Day of Democracy
Provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.

September 15 through September 17 - Rosh Hashanah

Start of the Jewish New Year, day of judgment and remembrance. The Jewish calendar celebrates the New Year in the seventh month (Tishrei) as a day of rest and celebration ten days before Yom Kippur.

September 16 - Mexican Independence Day
Recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.

September 19 - Celebration of Ganesha
A huge community event lasting around 10 days, where the elephant-headed Hindu God is praised and given offerings.

September 21 - World Alzheimer’s Day

September 21 through 29 - Mabon
Also referred to as Harvest Home, the Feast of the Ingathering, and Meán Fómhair. Mabon is the second celebration of the harvest, a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. It is one of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

September 23 - International Day of Sign Languages
Start of the Jewish New Year, day of judgment and remembrance. The Jewish calendar celebrates the New Year in the seventh month (Tishrei) as a day of rest and celebration ten days before Yom Kippur.
Rosh Hashanah is observed from Sunday evening, Sept. 25, 2022, through the end of Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

September 24 through September 25 - Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is often considered the holiest day of the year for Jews, and the day is dedicated to atonement and abstinence. During Yom Kippur, Jews fast from before sundown on the first day until after sunset on the second day and light a Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the night of Yom Kippur.            

September 26 through September 27 - Eid Milad Un Nabi
An Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad.

September 28 - Meskel
A day that commemorates the cross used in the Crucifixion of Jesus in some Christian denominations and a religious holiday in the Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox churches that commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by the Roman Empress, Helena, in the fourth century.

September 28 - Teacher’s Day in Taiwan
Taiwan uses this day to honor teachers’ contributions to their students and society in general. People often express their gratitude to their teachers by visiting them or sending them a card. This date was chosen to commemorate the birth of Confucius, the model master educator in ancient China.


All Month:

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Spina Bifida Awareness Month

National Bullying Prevention Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month
National Family History Month

National Work and Family Month

Filipino American Heritage Month

Italian-American Heritage Month

German American Heritage Month

LGBT History Month

By Date:

October 1 - Color Blindness Awareness Day

October 9 - Canadian Thanksgiving
A chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year.

October 10 - National Indigenous Peoples’ Day
An alternative celebration to Columbus Day that gives recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization.

October 11 - National Coming Out Day (U.S.)
For those who identify as LGBTQ+, this day celebrates coming out and the recognition of the 1987 March on Washington for gay and lesbian equality.

October 16 through October 17 - Birth of Báb
A Bahá'i holiday celebrating the birth of the prophet Báb.

October 17 through October 18 - The Birth of Bahá'u'lláh
A day which members of the Baháʼí faith celebrate the birthday of the founder of the Baháʼí religion.

October 24 - Dussehra
A 10-day festival celebrated by Hindus to recognize Rama's victory over evil.

October 31 - 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 faithfully departed.


All Month:

National Native American Heritage Month

Alzheimer's Awareness Month

COPD Awareness Month

Dercum's Disease Awareness Month

American Diabetes Month

Epilepsy Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Men's Health Month

By Date:

November 1 - All Saints' Day
Commemorates all known and unknown Christian saints.

November 1 - International Stress Awareness Day

November 2 - All Souls' Day (Dia de los Muertos)
All Souls' Day commemorates all faithful Christians who are no longer living. In the Mexican tradition, the holiday is celebrated as Dia de Los Muertos (October 31 and November 2), which is a time of remembrance for dead ancestors and a celebration of the continuity of life.

November 9 - World Usability Day
Raise standards so that technology works to harness human potential.

November 11 - Veterans Day
An annual U.S. federal holiday honoring military veterans.

November 13 - World Kindness Day

November 16 - International Day for Tolerance

November 20 - Transgender Day of Remembrance
This day was established in 1998 to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia and raise awareness of the continued violence endured by the transgender community.

November 23 - Thanksgiving

November 24 - Native American Heritage Day
Held annually the Friday after Thanksgiving, this day encourages Americans of all backgrounds to observe and honor Native Americans through appropriate ceremonies and activities.

November 26 - Feast of Christ the King
A praise to God for the gift of time. Many party and feast to give thanks.

All Month:

HIV/AIDS Awareness Month

Universal Human Rights Month

By Date:

December 1 - World AIDS Day
This day commemorates those who have died of AIDS and acknowledges the need for a continued commitment to all those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

December 3 - International Day of Persons with Disabilities
This day is designed to raise awareness in regards to persons with disabilities in order to improve their lives and provide them with equal opportunity.

December 7 through December 15 - Hanukkah
Hanukkah lasts eight days, from the 25th day of Kislev, and commemorates the rededication of the Temple in 165 BC by the Maccabees after its desecration by the Syrians. It is marked by the successive kindling of eight lights.

December 8 - Immaculate Conception of Mary
This day is a celebration, by various Christian denominations, of belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

December 8 - Bodhi Day
A Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali.

December 10 - International Human Rights Day
Established by the United Nations in 1948 to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

December 12 - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
A religious holiday in Mexico commemorating the appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531.

December 13 - St. Lucia's Day
A religious festival of lights in Scandinavia and Italy commemorating the martyrdom of St. Lucia, a young Christian girl who was killed for her faith in 304 C.E.

December 16 through 24 - Las Posadas
A nine-day celebration in Mexico commemorating the trials Mary and Joseph endured during their journey to Bethlehem.

December 20 - International Human Solidarity Day

December 21 - Yule Winter Solstice
Celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans. The shortest day of the year represents a celebration focusing on rebirth, renewal and new beginnings as the sun makes its way back to the Earth.

December 25 - Christmas Day
The day that many Christians associate with Jesus’ birth.

December 26 through January 1 - Kwanzaa
African-American holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate universal African-American heritage.

December 31 - New Year's Eve

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