Christian

History of St. Patrick: Was he British?

HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY Although much of the life of the patron saint and Apostle of Ireland is shrouded in legend, St. Patrick was probably born around the year AD 389. Stories are told of the many contests Patrick had with Druids, pagans, and polytheists, as well as the well known but unlikely story…

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History of Ash Wednesday: Where does the Ash come from?

HISTORY OF ASH WEDNESDAY In the Western church, the first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the ceremonial use of ashes, as a symbol of penitence, in the service prescribed for the day. It follows Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, and ends 40 days later with Easter. The custom is still…

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History of Mardi Gras: Why is it called Fat Tuesday?

HISTORY OF MARDI GRAS In French, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and is celebrated the day after Shrove Monday and the day before Ash Wednesday as a last “fling” before the 40 days of self-denial of Lent which precede Easter. Lent is a word that comes from the Middle English word “lente” which means “springtime” —…

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History of St. Valentine’s Day

HISTORY OF ST. VALENTINE’S DAY St. Valentine was martyred on February 14. However, Valentine or Valentinus is the name of at least three martyred saints. The most celebrated are the two martyrs whose festivals fall on February 14, the one, a Roman priest, the other, bishop of Terni. Context It would appear from legend that both…

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History of Epiphany: Ends the 12th Days of Christmas?

HISTORY OF EPIPHANY Epiphany occurs in the Christian calendar on January 6. It signifies the event of the Magi, or Wise Men, visiting the baby Jesus, and is known in some Latin cultures as Three Kings Day. In the Eastern (Orthodox and Oriental) churches, it is known as the Feast of Theophany (God Manifest), commemorating Jesus’ baptism with…

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History of New Year’s Resolutions: Where did they begin?

HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS As we mentioned earlier, New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March but changed to January by the Romans. Where did we get the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and why at the beginning of the year? Roman The month of January gets its…

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History of Telemachus: the Monk who Ended the Roman Gladiatorial Games

History of Telemachus: the Monk who Ended the Roman Gladiatorial Games January 1, A.D. 404 marked the last known gladiatorial games in Rome. What part did an obscure Christian monk from the East play in this epic change in Roman entertainment? This is the story of St. Telemachus whose festival is celebrated today and has…

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History of Childermas: Feast of the Holy Innocents

HISTORY OF CHILDERMAS Childermas, from an Old English word meaning the Mass of the Infants, is the festival in the church calendar begun in the fifth century — celebrated in the Western Church on December 28 and in the Eastern Church on December 29. It commemorates the date when King Herod ordered the massacre of the…

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