Ascension Day

Next Thursday, 18 May 2023

Ascension Day, also know as the Feast of the Ascension, is a Christian observance that takes place on the fortieth day of Easter, a Thursday. It celebrates Jesus's ascension into heaven. Ascension Day is not a public holiday in the United States, businesses and schools remain open.

Ascension Day is one of the Catholic Church's six Holy Days of obligation, these are days when the congregation is expected to attend mass. Since it can be difficult for some people to attend church on a Thursday some Churches in America have sought permission from the Pope to observe Ascension Day mass on the following Sunday. This change gives more believers a chance to participate in services.

History

According to the bible, after his crucifixion on Good Friday, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day, the date we now call Easter Sunday. For 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples a number of times, teaching them how to spread the word of God and convert people to Christianity. At the end of the fortieth day, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus spoke to his disciples, telling them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, and then he ascended into heaven.

Origins of the celebration

This celebration is believed to be one of the oldest in the Christian faith. Some records state that it was observed as early as the 4th century, although it is thought that around that time the Ascension was celebrated together with Easter or Pentecost. At some point, around the year 300, a decree declared that each of these Holy days should be observed in its own time, thus Ascension Day was moved to be commemorated 40 days after Easter, and Pentecost was to be observed 50 days after Easter.

How it is observed

In the United States, church services are centered around reflection and inner peace. Music is very important on Ascension Day services, and special Ascension Day hymns are sung during mass. Some churches gather together socially and celebrate the day with a picnic, sometimes on a hilltop to recreate the moment Jesus was on the Mount of Olives.

Churches might also celebrate with a parade/procession through the town. One very old example of this is in Bruges, Belgium, where there has been an Ascension Day Procession called 'Procession of the Holy Blood' every year for over 700 years.

Ascension Day
Ascension Day

Ascension Day - Next years

Thursday, 09 May 2024

Thursday, 29 May 2025

Thursday, 14 May 2026

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