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Showing posts with the label #Time

Thanksgiving Day.

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In the United States, we have a national day of thanksgiving on November’s fourth Thursday. Whom are we giving thanks to? Well, the act which establishes Thanksgiving Day as one of our national holidays, provides no instructions whatsoever on how we’re to observe it. Or whom we’re to thank. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the last Thursday in November in each year after the year 1941 be known as Thanksgiving Day, and is hereby made a legal public holiday to all intents and purposes and in the same manner as the 1st day of January, the 22d day of February, the 30th day of May, the 4th day of July, the first Monday of September, the 11th day of November, and Christmas Day are now made by law public holidays. —77th Congress, 6 October 1941 House Joint Resolution 41 The Senate amended it to read “fourth Thursday in November,” and President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law. So it’s a holiday

Pentecost.

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I’m a Pentecostal… and weirdly, a lot of us Pentecostals never notice when Pentecost comes round. I don’t get it. I blame anti-Catholicism a little. Anyway, Pentecost is the last day of Eastertime, the day we Christians remember the start of the Christian church—the day the Holy Spirit gave power to Jesus’s followers. Like so. Acts 2.1-4 KWL 1 When the 50th day after Passover drew near, all were together in one place. 2 Suddenly a roar came from heaven, like a mighty wind sounds, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Tongues, like fire, were seen distributed to them, and sat on each one of them, 4 and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to speak in other tongues, in whatever way the Spirit gave them the ability. 4 The Jews who inhabited Jerusalem at the time were devout men from every nation under heaven. 5 When this sound came forth , the masses gathered, and were confused: Each one of them was hearing their own dialect sp

Easter.

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On 5 April 33, before the sun rose at 5:23 a.m. in Jerusalem, Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. Executed only two days before, he became the first human on earth to be resurrected. Jesus died the day before Passover. This was deliberate. This way his death would fulfill many of the Passover rituals. Because of this relationship to Passover, many Christians actually call this day some variation of the Hebrew פֶּסַח / Pesákh , “Passover.” In Greek and Latin (and Russian), it’s Pascha ; in Danish Påske , Dutch Pasen , French Pâques , Italian Pasqua , Spanish Pascua , Swedish Påsk . But in many Germanic-speaking countries, including English, we use the ancient pagan word for April, Eostur . In German this becomes Ostern ; in English Easter . Because of the pagan origins of the word, certain Christians avoid it and just call the day “Resurrection Sunday.” (Which is fine, but confuses non-Christians.) Easter is our most important holiday. Christmas tends to get the world’s

Passover: When God saved the Hebrews.

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“Why don’t we celebrate Passover?” asked one of my students, when I once taught on the topic. “We do,” I said. “Christians call it Pascha or Pascua or Páques . But in languages with a lot of German words mixed in, we call it Easter. And obviously we do it way different than you see in the bible.” So different, English-speaking people routinely assume Easter and Passover are two entirely different holidays. I can’t argue with this assumption. Christians don’t bother to purge our homes of yeast or leavening. Don’t cook lamb—nor do we practice the modern Jewish custom of not having lamb, ’cause there’s no temple in Jerusalem to ritually sacrifice a lamb in. Don’t put out the seder plate. Don’t tell the Exodus story. Don’t have the kids ask the Four Questions. Don’t hide the afikomen and have the kids search for it—although both holidays have eggs, and we do have the kids look for eggs. Well, some Christians observe Passover as a separate holiday. Some of us even celebrat

Holy Week: When Jesus died.

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Sunday is Palm Sunday, the start of what we Christians call Holy Week . It’s also called Great Week, Greater Week, Holy and Great Week, Passion Week, Easter Week (by those people who consider Easter the end of the week), and various other titles. It remembers the week Jesus died. It took place 9–17 Nisan 3793 in the Hebrew calendar; and in the Julian calendar that’d be 29 March to 4 April of the year 33. DAY DATE JESUS’S ACTIVITY PALM SUNDAY. 9 Nisan 3793 29 March 33 Jesus entered Jerusalem; the crowds said Hosanna. Mk 11.1-11, Mt 21.1-11, Lk 19.28-44, Jn 12.12-19 HOLY MONDAY. 10 Nisan 3793 30 March 33 Cleansing the temple of the merchants; cursing the fig tree. Mk 11.12-18, Mt 21.12-19, Lk 19.45-46, Jn 2.13-17 HOLY TUESDAY. 11 Nisan 3793 31 March 33 Jesus taught in temple. Lk 19.47-48, 21.37 HOLY WEDNESDAY. 12 Nisan 3793 1 April 33 Still teaching in temple. MAUNDY THURSDAY. 13 Nisan 3793 2 April 33 The last supper; Jesus was

Sundays in Lent.

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If you’re observing Lent, and fasting in some form during that time, you get Sundays off. We don’t fast on feast days, and Sabbath (which for most Christians is Sunday) is always a feast day. So you get little holidays from your Lenten fast. Gave up coffee? Have a coffee. Try not to overcompensate though. Since all these Sundays are little breaks from fasting, they feel a little extra special during Lent, and over the centuries Christians have treated ’em as extra-special days. Even given them special names. And when I, or other Christians, refer to these names, sometimes curious Christians wanna know what that’s all about. Is there anything important we’re meant to do or remember about these Sundays? Nah, not really. The names come from the first words of the prayer book or missal, used in liturgical churches as part of their services. They’re the first word of the first prayer in the order of service. The traditional names of the Sundays in Lent come from the first w

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Pádraig of Ireland, whom we know as St. Patrick or St. Paddy, is celebrated on the date of his death in 17 March 493. In the United States, Irish Americans (and pretty much everyone else, ’cause the more the merrier) tend to treat the day as a celebration of Irish culture. Thing is, Americans know little to nothing about actual Irish culture. We barely know the difference between an Irish accent, a Scots accent, and a Yorkshire accent. What we do know is Guinness, though we’ll settle for anything alcoholic, including beer filled with green food coloring. Me, I used to love McDonald’s “shamrock shakes,” though I had one more recently and found it way too sweet for my liking. It’s because they take an already-sugary vanilla shake, then add sugary green mint stuff to it. I much prefer adding vanilla and mint to a Starbucks Frappuccino. Most American customs consist of drinking, eating stereotypical Irish food like corned beef and potatoes, parades in which the religious particip

Ash Wednesday: Lent begins.

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Many of the Christians I grew up with consider this “a Catholic thing,” but the Easter-season Lenten fast predates Roman Catholics by centuries. In the year 325, the first council of Nicea made reference to a 40-day fast before Easter. They didn’t spell out the details of how they observed it, but the τεσσαρκοστή / tessarkostí , “fortieth” fast day before Easter, is when it starts—and that’d be Ash Wednesday. Ancient custom was to go without food till sundown for each of the fast days. (Skipping one day a week, ’cause you don’t fast on Sabbath. ) Among eastern Christians this evolved into a 40-day fast till Holy Week, which started on Clean Monday a week before. Among western Christians it’s Ash Wednesday to Easter. Ash Wednesday gets its name from the western custom of putting ashes on our heads. Sometimes they’re sprinkled on one’s head as part of a ritual, but in English-speaking countries the custom is to use ashes to draw a cross on Christians’ foreheads. A new custom

Lenten fasting. (It’s optional, you know.)

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Lent is the English term for the 40-day period before Easter in which Christians fast, abstain, and otherwise practice self-control. (Assuming we practice such things at all.) In Latin it’s called quadragesima and in Greek it’s σαρακοστή / sarakostí , short for τεσσαρκοστή / tessarkostí —both of which mean “fortieth,” ’cause 40 days. It starts Ash Wednesday, which isn’t 40 precise days before Easter; it’s 46. That’s because the six Sundays before Easter aren’t included. You don’t fast on feast days, and Sabbath is a feast day; it’s when we take a weekly break from our Lenten fasts. Many Christians don’t realize this, and wind up fasting Sundays too—since they’ve got that abstention momentum going anyway. And for eastern Christians, Lent begins the week before Ash Wednesday, on Clean Monday. Partly because they don’t skip Sundays, and fast that day too; and partly ’cause their Lenten fast consists of the 40 days before Holy Week. Then they have a whole different fast for t

Shrovetide: Getting ready for Lent.

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Christmas definitely gets all the secular attention, but Easter is most definitely Christianity’s biggest holiday. ’Cause Christ is risen. Jesus is alive. His being alive, confirms everything. So we Christians put a lot into it… …and kinda go overboard. That’s what shrovetide is about. You may already know before Easter we have that fasting period which English-speakers call Lent. Well, before Lent there’s a whole other season called shrovetide , in which Christians prepare for Lent. Shrovetide starts the ninth Sunday before Easter. Since that’s 63 days before, western Christian custom rounds that up to 70 and calls it Septuagesima Sunday (from the Latin for 70, of course). The Sunday after that is 56 days before, so round it up again and it’s Sexagesima Sunday (for 60); and the Sunday after that is 48 days before, so Quinquagesima Sunday (for 50), and that’s today. Although more Christians simply call this day Shrove Sunday , the Sunday before Lent starts. And the la