Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Christian Feast Days

With this being the first week of October and, as far as I could gather, no religious festival whatsoever, I thought I'd look at the names of Christian feast days.

Ash Wednesday - derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year's Palm Sunday, these placed on the heads of those present in the form of the cross.

Quadragesima - the first Sunday of Lent, traditionally the first of the Sundays when fasting is suspended. It is Latin for 'fortieth' as it is exactly forty days between then and Good Friday.

Palm Sunday - commemorates Christ's entry into Jerusalem, where the crowd scattered palm branches on the path before Jesus as he rode through the streets.

Good Friday - not, as is often said, a corruption of 'God' Friday but uses 'good' in an earlier sense of 'pious, holy'.

Easter Day - comes from an Old English goddess Eostre, a dawn goddess which can be traced in numerous cultures many centuries before Christianity and Easter. Her name comes from Proto-Indo-European h'ews 'to shine'.

Ascension Day - the day on which the risen Christ is said to have risen to heaven. It is always a Thursday and the fortieth day of Easter.

Whit Sunday - the eighth Sunday after Easter, the day on which the Holy Spirit is said to have descended upon Christ's disciples. It is a contraction of White Sunday and is also referred to as Whitsun and Pentecost, itself from the Greek for 'fiftieth day'.

Trinity Sunday - is the first Sunday after Whit Sunday or Pentecost, marking the Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Corpus Christi - Latin for 'the Body of Christ', it is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

Advent - the period from the fourth Sunday before Christmas up to, but not including, the day itself. Its name comes from Latin and means 'to come'.

Christmas - literally 'the mass of Christ', where 'mass' comes from mittere 'to let go' and 'Christ' is a translation of the Hebrew mashiah to Greek khristos 'the annointed'.

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