Special Holidays and Celebrations
October 31, 2020
For all its frivolity and fun, Halloween actually has very serious roots. It’s earliest traces are found in the ancient druid celebration of the “Day of the Dead”, when the spirits of the deceased were believed to return to the land of the living to collect on old debts or otherwise haunt those who did them wrong in this life. Other spirits were believed to have returned to bless those who had been good to them during their lives on earth. Similar observances are common to many other cultures around the world. The holiday took on Christian overtones as the people of Britain and Ireland were evangelized beginning in the 5th century. The feast of “All Hallows” (All Saints) celebrated around the same time as the day of the dead, was used as a bridge by Christian missionaries who taught that these evil spirits actually came to wreak havoc on the earth in anticipation of All Hallows Day, when the saints would descend from heaven to cast them back. It is from this that the “mischief” aspect of the holiday originated. Whereas in the Druid celebration horrible costumes were worn to emulate the evil spirits, Christians began dressing their children in costumes depicting various saints on the evening before All Hallows (“All Hallows Eve” or “Halloween”) hoping to confuse the spirits and send them fleeing in terror. For “tricking” them the children were offered a “treat”. And “trick or treating” was born! Time and changing cultures would add their own customs until it became the holiday we recognize today.
ALL SAINTS DAY
November 1, 2020
All Saints Day honors the heroes of our faith: those we know through the church’s official process of canonization, and those who are known only to GOD and those who were personally acquainted with them. This feast reminds us that all Christians are called to sanctity, to a “saintly” way of life. It is a holy day of obligation when all the faithful are required to attend Mass.
ALL SOULS DAY
November 2, 2020
All Souls Day is celebrated on November 2, 2019 and the remainder of the month. We remember all our beloved deceased, and particularly entrust to GOD’s mercy those who have yet to complete their journey to the fullness of the Kingdom: “the souls in purgatory ”. In addition to the usual mass, it is the tradition to honor loved ones who died in the past at a special All Souls Day Mass.
Advent 2020 begins on Sunday, November 29th and ends on Thursday, December 24th.
The season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6th.
Advent comes from the Latin word meaning "coming." Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for the arrival of Jesus. As Catholics, during Advent, we are called to look back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. Prayer, penance and fasting are appropriate during this season.
SAINT PATRICK'S DAY
March 17, 2021
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all of his prevalence in culture, namely the holiday held on the day of his death that bears his name, his life remains somewhat of a mystery.
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. Christians have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would celebrate and feast—on the traditional meal of bacon/corned beef and cabbage.
February 17, 2021
Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.
Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person's forehead, he speaks the words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God. It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting. Some faithful take the rest of the day off work and remain home. It is generally inappropriate to dine out, to shop, or to go about in public after receiving the ashes. Feasting is highly inappropriate. Small children, the elderly and sick are exempt from this observance.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
March 28, 2021
Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday in recognition of the beginning of Holy Week and Jesus’ final agonizing journey to His crucifixion. Falling on the sixth Sunday in Lent and the Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday is celebrated in all major Christian churches—Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox.
Today, many Palm Sunday traditions remain much the same as those celebrated in the tenth century. Some ceremonies begin with the blessing of the palms. Afterward, many people take the palms home and place them in houses, barns, and fields. In many churches, children serve as an integral part of the service since they enjoy the processions. Children often craft crosses from palm leaves which were used in the Sunday processional. The traditions of Palm Sunday serve as reminders of the life-changing events of Holy Week.
April 2, 2021
Good Friday is observed on the Friday that precedes Easter Sunday (also called Resurrection Sunday). It is a day when people remember Jesus’ death on the cross. Many people, mostly Christians, celebrate this day by attending a Good Friday service where they read the biblical accounts of Jesus’ death on the cross.
April 3, 2021
The entire liturgical year culminates in the Easter Vigil, an ancient liturgy celebrated on the night before Easter Sunday. It was initially an all-night vigil that started in the middle of the night and didn’t end until the first rays of dawn when the celebration of Mass began. For early Christians, it was a way to welcome the rising of the Son of God, who dispels the darkness of night. It was eventually shortened and pushed back earlier in the evening, but many of the same rituals are performed with great solemnity. The Easter Vigil is a beautiful experience, one that immerses a person into the very heart of the Paschal Mystery.
April 4, 2021
Easter is aand commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament of the Bible, the event is said to have occurred three days after Jesus was crucified by the Romans and died in roughly 30 A.D. The holiday concludes the “Passion of Christ,” a series of events and holidays that begins with Lent—a 40-day period of fasting, prayer and sacrifice—and ends with Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday (the celebration of Jesus’ Last Supper with his 12 Apostles), Good Friday (on which Jesus’ crucifixion is observed), and Easter Sunday.