Archive for the "Religious" Category

Ascension Day

  • April 25, 2014, 10:10 pm
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  • In Religious

When is Ascension Day?

Ascension Day is a Christian holiday that observes the ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven. It is celebrated on the 40th day of the Easter season, which takes place 39 days after Easter Sunday. Also referred to as the Feast of the Ascension, it is another important holiday to Christians as they pay tribute to their Savior as they await his return.

History of the Holiday

According to the Holy Bible, Jesus was crucified on the day the Christian Church now recognizes as Easter Sunday. It wasn’t until 39 days later, however, the Jesus rose into Heaven. On this 40th day, it is said that Jesus came to his disciples and promised that they would see his ascension from Jerusalem. Scripture says that the Apostles witnessed the event, where Jesus was rose into the sky. Following the ascension was a promise that he would one day return.

This was a remarkable event in the Holy Bible, but a holiday to celebrate the ascension wasn’t established until years later. According to the Share Faith Christian Guide, Ascension Day was celebrated sometime around 68 AD, where people commemorated Jesus’ ascension in the form of a feast. At this time, the event was called the Feast of the Ascension. However, there was no formal holiday established until around the fourth century.

Celebrations and Commemorations

Ascension Day is primarily celebrated within churches where special services are dedicated to the ascension of Jesus Christ on the 40th day of Easter. Some groups still hold related feasts to commemorate the day, too. Church attendance may be varied: while Catholics may be required to go to services, other sects of Christianity are a little more flexible. Ascension Day always falls on a Thursday, so some churches opt to hold services the following Sunday to accommodate work schedules.

Some Christians bypass formal church services altogether and choose to make Ascension Day celebrations a family affair at home. Candles may be lit, prayers may be said and a feast may be enjoyed together. Other Christians may even celebrate the several days leading up to the holiday. No matter how it is commemorated the message remains the same to Christians: Ascension Day marks the day Jesus promised he would return to Earth someday.

Varying Dates

In the United States, Ascension Day is not a government holiday, which is the same as Good Friday. Ascension Day often falls on a weekday, but government offices and public schools remain open. While the same is true of Good Friday, many schools and businesses choose to close and incorporate the holiday into spring break, or an extended Easter holiday weekend. A few other countries do designate Ascension Day as a public holiday.

Ascension Day never falls on the same date because Easter Sunday does not occur on the same date. However, Ascension Day does always fall on a Thursday, just as Easter is always held on Sunday. These holidays are based on the lunar and solar calendars, which are not the same length as the modern 365-day annual calendar. For this reason, Easter is slated for either March or April depending on the year. Ascension Day is always 39 days after, but can occur May or early June. In 2014, Ascension Day is on May 29th. It will fall on May 14th in 2015. The last time Ascension Day was in June was in 2011.

Resource:

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/ascension-day-meaning.html

 

Holy Saturday

When is Holy Saturday?

Holy Saturday is the Saturday after Good Friday, and before Easter. All of three of these days hold individual significance to Christians. Easter Sunday is the day Jesus rose from his tomb, but Christians commemorate Holy Saturday as remembrance of him lying in the tomb.

A Brief History

Holy Saturday represents both the joy and the sadness experienced by many Christians around the time of Easter. While they express joy in the life and sacrifices made by Jesus, his death is certainly a tragic event. The name of “Good” Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, expresses these two opposing sentiments. Christians have regarded Holy Saturday as one of the most important days of Holy Week, which is the week of Easter. It is also the end of Lent in the Catholic Church.

Vigil and Celebrations

One of the most common traditions associated with Holy Saturday is a vigil. Also called an “Easter Vigil,” this event has evolved throughout the years. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the vigil was prominent as early as the sixth century. During this time, Christians would hold all-night vigils, which would often last into Easter morning. The purpose was to hold out and celebrate until the estimated time of Jesus’ resurrection.

Since then, the Easter Vigil is not as strict. Some churches hold vigils on Saturday morning or afternoon, and people are allowed to return home in time to prepare for the festivities of Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday services often include candlelit prayers, and perhaps even baptisms. Those who cannot make church services on Holy Saturday may instead hold a private vigil with candles and prayers at home.

A less common tradition is fasting. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, it was common within the first two centuries to fast for the forty hours leading up to the Easter feast. While some Christians still choose to fast, this tradition is not as strictly enforced due to reasons related to health and practicality.

From a lighter perspective, Holy Saturday marks an opportunity to prepare for Easter festivities. This can include arranging for Easter outfits and church services, as well as preparing for egg hunts.

Varying Dates

With the exception of Christmas, Christian holidays don’t always fall on the same date on the modern 12-month calendar. Just like Easter Sunday, Holy Saturday can occur as early as late March, and as late as the end of April. Easter is determined by the March equinox, as well as the date of Passover. Since Holy Saturday is always the day before Easter, the date varies. In 2013, Holy Saturday occurred on March 30th, while it fell on April 19th in 2014. The next time Easter and Holy Saturday will fall on a March date will be in 2016.

Resource:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07424a.htm

Palm Sunday

When is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday marks the last Sunday before Easter in the Christian church. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week, which encompasses perhaps the most important days in Christianity. The date for Palm Sunday varies in the same way that Easter Sunday does, which is in accordance to solar and lunar calendars.

History of Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday refers to the notable event that occurred on the Sunday before Jesus was crucified. This was also the week before his resurrection. According to the Holy Bible, this was the day that Jesus re-entered Jerusalem. This symbolized to his followers that he was the son of God, and that he was destined to remain in the Holy Land. Others rejoiced and shouted “Hosanna,” which referred to being saved. He was declared the King of the Holy Land, and a savior of humankind. History within in Christianity shows that such declarations by this group of people ultimately led to Jesus’ downfall.

Other details surrounding Jesus’ reentry into Jerusalem are significant to the history of Palm Sunday. One controversial act was his riding a donkey back into town. According to Liberty Voice, riding into a city on a horse symbolized command and conquering, while a donkey symbolized peace. Given the consistently peaceful nature of Jesus in scripture, his riding into Jerusalem on a donkey makes sense. Many people applauded this symbol. However, other supporters, especially within the Jewish community, were upset with this act because they didn’t think Jesus represented himself as a strong enough leader.

One of the reasons why this holiday is referred to as “Palm” Sunday is because of the significance of palm branches used upon Jesus’s arrival into Jerusalem. When he rode in on the donkey in a peace effort, his supporters placed palm branches around his feet. The use of the palm branch is significant because they were often used by kings during this era to show strength and triumph.

Palm Sunday Feasts and Traditions

Palm Sunday has been historically regarded as one of the big Christian feasts. There was also a feast on the Sunday that Jesus returned to Jerusalem. In Catholic and Protestant churches, there are often special services dedicated to Palm Sunday, followed by a feast including the entire congregation. The timing of the feasts vary by church; some may choose to hold a brunch after normal morning service hours, while others choose to have a dinner feast. No matter what time of day of the feast, the same theme of Palm Sunday holds true. Some churches also choose to decorate with palm fronds to commemorate the return of their Savior.

This holiday also marks the last Sunday in Lent, so some Christians may uphold fasting traditions on this day with the exception of the Palm Sunday feast. Lent encompasses the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday is a deeply religious holiday. The primary purpose is to commemorate Jesus’s crossing back into Jerusalem to symbolize peace. This serves as a reminder to many Christians of how important it is to practice their religion in peace. Palm Sunday also serves as an opportunity for celebrators to come together and celebrate peace and love in humanity.

Resource:

http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/holy-week-palm-sunday-traditions-meaning-history/

St. David’s Day

  • February 20, 2014, 7:07 am
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  • In Religious

When is St. David’s Day?

St. David’s Day is an annual holiday that celebrates the life and work of the related patron saint from Wales. It is celebrated every March 1st. While there are few records available about St. David’s personal life, his popularity and dedication to Christianity is what created this widely celebrated holiday.

Who Was St. David?

St. David was a popular bishop from Wales. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but BBC estimates that he lived until the year 589. In other words, he is expected to have lived within five hundred years after Christ was born. David was born in the southern coast of Wales, around the present-day area of St. David’s city. He dedicated himself to Christianity early in life and went to school at a monastery. It was his passion to spread Christianity throughout his home country, so he became a missionary. He eventually made it to England and even Italy. Technically, David was a Celtic monk.

Before his death, David established his own Celtic monastery. In fact, he was laid to rest at the school grounds. According to BBC, he became the official patron saint to represent Wales at some point during the 12th century. He was a widely popular bishop who was known for his interpersonal skills. During large events, for instance, he made sure he was visible by all attendees.

While the exact details (and even year) of is death are unclear, there is speculation that David died on March 1st. This is one of the reasons why St. David’s Day falls on the first day of March every year.

Transition to St. David’s Day

Just as many details of St. David’s life are unknown, no one knows exactly when St. David’s Day first came to light. Naturally, however, the holiday was first celebrated in David’s home country of Wales. As many Welsh families immigrated to other countries, such as England and the United States, they took the traditions of St. David’s Day with them. Parades, feasts and parties are commonplace on this holiday, where many participants even dress up in Celtic costumes.

While St. David’s Day holds historic and religious significance to the people of Wales, the holiday is not observed on a national scale. The decision is made by the government of the United Kingdom. This means that, while many people celebrate the holiday, government holidays and banks do not close. The same goes for celebrations in other countries, such as the United States.

Symbols of St. David

The official flag of Wales is a green pasture that features a red dragon. On and around St. David’s Day, however, Wales flies another official flag. The flag of St. David is solid black with a yellow cross in its center. This flag is flown during St. David’s Day in Wales, but it may also be featured in celebrations throughout other countries. Some celebrators also choose to fly both the flag of St. David and the Wales national flag together. This gesture shows a celebration of St. David as well as the country in which he was born.

Flowers may also be worn to commemorate St. David, particularly daffodils. Derived from the narcissus family, the daffodil is known for its bright yellow bulbs, which also symbolize good luck.

Reference:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/david_st.shtml