Calendar

Mar
24
Sun
Maundy Thursday
Mar 24 – Mar 25 all-day

Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus Christ’s institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, which is described in the Christian bible. The day is also known as Passion Thursday, Paschal Thursday or Sheer (or Shere) Thursday. It is the day before Good Friday and occurs during Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday Global Church

Maundy Thursday remembers Jesus Christ’s institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper.

What Do People Do?

Many Catholic and Anglican churches continue traditional Maundy Thursday rites that may include handing out special coins known as “Maundy money” to the aged and poor. Churches may also have the blessing of holy oil and feet washing as part of their Maundy Thursday service. Some churches have a tradition that involves priests washing the feet of 12 people to symbolize Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

Many Maundy Thursday church services take place in the evening. Maundy Thursday is known as “Green Thursday” (Gründonnerstag) in Germany, where green vegetables and salad, including spinach salad, are served as part of the tradition. Maundy Thursday is known as skjærtorsdag in Norway and is a day off for workers and students. It is known as skärtorsdagen in Sweden and is linked to a folktale about a witches’ day.

Public Life

Maundy Thursday is a public holiday in countries such as (but not exclusive to):

  • Colombia.
  • Costa Rica.
  • Denmark.
  • Guatemala.
  • Nicaragua.
  • Norway.
  • Paraguay.
  • Many regions in Spain.
  • Uruguay.

It is not a public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Background

Maundy Thursday occurs during Holy Week and remembers when Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper, an event that is told in the Christian bible. It also commemorates the practice of ceremonial foot-washing to imitate Jesus, who washed his disciples’ feet before the Last Supper as a sign and example of humility and love. Holy Thursday also commemorates the events that took place on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

A special Eucharist commemoration on the Thursday of Holy Week was first mentioned in the North African Council of Hippo’s documents around 393 CE. There have been many references to Maundy Thursday observances after that date. Maundy Thursday was also known as Shear, Char, Shrift, and Sharp Thursday. These names are believed to have derived from cutting or trimming hair or beards before Easter during the 14th century. This particular custom signified spiritual preparation for Easter.

Roman nobility practiced washing other people’s feet during the mid-19th century. This practice is no longer common in some Protestant churches but many Catholic and Anglican churches still celebrate this Maundy Thursday rite.

Symbols

The name “Maundy” most likely stems from the Latin word mandatum (or mandatum novum) which relates to the English words “commandment” or “a new mandate”. It refers to Jesus’ words after he washed his disciple’s feet. He instructed them with a new commandment – to love one another as he loved them.

The Lord’s Day
Mar 24 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Mar
28
Thu
Something on a Stick Day
Mar 28 all-day

March 28 is a Something on a Stick Day, a day to have fun with your food and to celebrate delicious and easy-to-eat dishes on a stick.

Something On A Stick Day Fun Church

Have fun with your food on Something on a Stick Day.
©iStockphoto.com/FamVeld

In many cultures, snacks and road-side food are served on a stick or a skewer.

Savory or Sweet

These snacks are usually chunks of vegetables or meat that are grilled, baked or fried. Food on a stick can be savory or sweet and can be served hot or cold.

Meat on a Stick

Kebabs (kebap or kebob) are some of the most well-known snacks that are cooked and or served on sticks. Usually made of lamb meat, though pork, beef and chicken can also be used to make the dish, kebabs are eaten around the world as a snack or as a main dish.

Easy to Handle

Another favorite food on a stick, typically found at fairs and food markets is a corn dog – a sausage that is dipped in a batter and fried.

Sweet snacks that are often served on a stick include caramel apples, ice pops, and cotton candy.

How to Celebrate?

  • Throw an everything on a stick party and serve your guests food and drinks (think popsicles) on a stick.
  • Rethink what you eat daily as dishes on a stick. What about making pancakes on a stick or pies on a stick?
  • Prefer to be healthy? Eat fruit on a stick.

Did You Know…

…that the ancient Greeks used sticks or skewers to cook their meat?

Mar
29
Fri
Soup’s On @ St Stephen's Memorial Hall
Mar 29 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

St Stephen’s Memorial Hall

hospitality-soups on-heritage

Mar
31
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Mar 31 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Apr
1
Mon
April Fool’s Day
Apr 1 all-day

Traditionally, April Fool’s Day is an opportunity for playing jokes or tricks on one another.  The stranger and the more absurd the better.

April Fools Day Fun Church

Jokes and gags must be harmless and fun.

It is celebrated in the United States, England, France, Scotland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Germany and Norway. Because the day evolves around whimsy and tomfoolery, the origin of this day varies also. The custom of shouting “April Fool!” was brought to the United States by English settlers in the early 1600’s.

One theory to it’s origin goes back to Noah, who is said to have mistakenly sent the dove out to find dry land after the flood began to recede on April 1st. Another has to do with the change in the Gregorian calendar, in which under the old calendar New Year’s Day was celebrated around time of the Vernal Equinox in late March. But, because this occasionally coincided with (or came close to) Easter, church officials back then moved New Year’s day to April 1st. But, when the Gregorian calendar was officially adopted in 1582, New Years Day changed from April 1 to January 1. Some people forgot about the change, and continued to make their New Year visits on April 1. Others paid mock visits to friends and neighbors shouting “April Fool!” to those who took them seriously.

Some historians believe that the Scottish and French customs of pulling pranks in a way reflect the old ancient feelings of spring. Another theory is that April Fool’s Day and pulling pranks started with Lord of Misrule’s ceremonies. Appropriately named, he is said to have organized some wild and unruly feasts and masquerades with people dressed up as mythological beasts or some kind of exotic animal as a form of rebellion against the church. Another theory is of course to blame it on the Romans. This theory states that the Roman festival of “Cerealia” held around the beginning of April, started it. The story is that the goddess Ceres hears the echo of Prosperpina (her daughter) screaming as she’s carried off to the lower worlds by Pluto. Ceres then goes in search of her daughter’s voice. But Cere’s search is a fool’s errand for it is impossible to find an echo.

Yet other scholars believe that April Fool’s Day began as a part of an original spring Celtic festival. You know the saying, “In spring a young man’s thoughts turn to love”, well the Druid priests were working on fooling evil spirits so they won’t interfere with fertility during spring mating (whether people, animals or plants). Thus, it was believed that by pulling pranks all ill-doers and evil spirits would get so confused they were null and void. And so the Druid priest’s ritual was considered a success!

Another theory relates it to the Hindu festival of Holi (or Huli) which of course is another spring fertility festival done with fire. This festival lasts for 5 days, including a continual outdoor bonfire and dancing. This brings people into an estatic mood. So how does April Fool’s fit in? On the LAST day of this festival (which happens to be March 31) people are sent on worthless errands to everyone’s amusement. There are a lot of folk stories in which people are sent on witless missions (or impossible ones). The common thread is that most of this is done in the Spring and is related around love. And, as some scholars say, when it comes to love even the most reasonable people go crazy and conduct themselves in a silly manner when they fall in love. So, April’s Fool’s Day is often associated with romantic craziness and fooling around.

April Fool’s Day was brought to the United States in the 1600’s by the English, Scottish and French settlers. It is believed that France helped influence when this day was celebrated because they changed their calendar in 1564 (King Charles IX) which changed the New Year from March 25 to January 1.

April Fools’ Day is also called Huntingowk Day or Gowkie Day in Scotland, because an April Fool is called a gowk. In England it’s often referred to “All Fools Day” or “April Noddy Day” because in England a fool is referred to as a ‘noddy.’ But, all of these names originate from the “Feast of Fools” which was a popular medieval festival during which social roles were reversed and rules were deliberately broken. The men would dress up as women, eat and gamble at the altar, burn old leather sandals in the censors and engage in other normally unthinkable activities.

The Feast of Fools was really popular in France, where April Fools’ Day is widely observed. No one knows why in France the hoax is an “April Fish” a Poisson d’avril. Those who love to fish say that April has the best fishing. Others say it’s because it’s during that time that the zodiacal sign of Pisces rules. Today, in France, chocolate fish are sold in candy stores for April Fool’s Day. And, friends send one another anonymous postcards (with some silly dialogue) with fish pictures. Other people try to pin a paper fish on someone’s back without being caught. This is similiar to the US prank of pinning a paper sign on someone’s back saying “Kick me.

“Here’s a funny story why the Dutch celebrate April Fool’s. Spain’s King Philip II ruled the Netherlands back in 1572. Rebels opposed to his rule were called “Geuzen” after the French word (Guex) that meant beggars. Den Briel (a small town on the coast) was seized by the Geuzens on April 1, 1572, beginning a civilian uprising against Spanish rule that spread throughout the Netherlands. Commander of the Spanish army was the Duke of Alba, and was powerless to stop the Geuzens. The Dutch word for glasses is “bril.” And, apparently during this uprising, the Duke of Alba lost his glasses. Because the Dutch enjoy this silly mishap, they use it to commemorate April Fool’s day.

Not always April 1. In Mexico and Spain, April Fool’s Day is on December 28 (called Day of the Holy Innocents). According to their custom, it is very foolish to lend someone anything (especially money) on that day because it doesn’t have to be returned. Instead, the borrower sends the lender a box of candies with a note that he’s been fooled. In Germany and Norway, April Fool’s day is celebrated twice: On April 1 and on April 30.  How to do an April Fool’s Joke.. The most common prank is of course to make someone run a “fool’s errand.” If not a complete errand, then an unnecessary action, such as checking for an open zipper or missing button.

To be a good April Fool prankster, one must have a cool persona and good timing. A good prankster gets his victim as early as possible before he realizes what day it is. Tradition has it that if a prankster waits too late in the day to pull the prank then he is called the April Fool. It is said that when people pull pranks on one another it is just another way of saying that they care.

April Fool’s pranks are usually first experienced in one’s home with other family members. And, then it will grow to outside social circles of friends, classmates, co-workers etc. However….please stop and think! Not everyone enjoys being embarrassed. And, if you play a prank on someone that you really do not have an emotional respect for, then do not do it. It can often be viewed as expressing anger, hostility, resentment, bigotry, etc.

In closing, don’t pull a prank you wouldn’t mind having done on yourself. This way everyone will enjoy the day. And, if it doubt, then don’t do it. Because hurting someone’s feelings is no joke at all.

Orthodox Easter Day
Apr 1 all-day

Many Orthodox churches base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries. Therefore the Orthodox Easter period often occurs later than the Easter period that falls around the time of the March equinox.

Easter Day Orthodox Church Roasted lamb is served on Easter Day. ©iStockphoto.com/Suljo

Roasted lamb is served on Easter Day.

What Do People Do?

Millions of Orthodox Christians worldwide, including about six million in North America, observe Easter, also known as Pascha, each year. It is estimated that there are more than 250 million Orthodox Christians in the world.

In Lebanon, many Orthodox Christians attend a church liturgy at Easter, whether it is on Sunday morning or midnight liturgy between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. On Easter Sunday, many families hold a special lunch consisting of turkey or chicken stuffed with nuts and served with rice. The afternoon is spent visiting friends and family members. Many homes have maamoul (cookies) on a plate with other delicacies such as chick peas covered with sugar and sweet almonds.

In Bulgaria, many worshippers celebrate outside churches after midnight liturgy, carrying candles to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Painted eggs are cracked or smashed and richly-painted Orthodox churches are filled with clouds of incense and choir songs.

In Greece, Easter Sunday is also a widely celebrated occasion. Lambs are roasted on a spit and the provision of wine is abundant. The roasted lamb is served in honor of Jesus Christ, who was sacrificed and rose again on Easter. Lamb is the most traditional Greek Easter food. Red-dyed eggs are cracked against each other and the person with the last remaining uncracked egg will have good luck. Easter Sunday is a time of festivity and people eat, chat or dance throughout the night.

On the island of Crete, many villages prepare for a bonfire effigy of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ, as described in the New Testament of the Bible.  In the lead up to the bonfire event, people gather sticks and branches to prepare to burn the effigy.

Around the world, many Orthodox churches, including the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, hold Easter liturgies during the Easter period according to the Julian calendar. Families unite and join in Orthodox Easter activities, festivities and traditions.

Public Life

Countries that officially observe the Orthodox Easter period include: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. There are no federal Orthodox Easter public holidays in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, it is a time for families and friends of the Orthodox Christian faith to gather together and to celebrate the Orthodox Easter period.

Easter is not a federal holiday in Jordan, although many Orthodox Christians are pushing to make it an official holiday. There have been petitions calling for the government in Jordan to make Easter an official public holiday. Jordan has a population of about six million people, and about six percent consists of Christians while about 92 percent consists of people of the Sunni Muslim faith.

In Lebanon – a country with a population of nearly 60 percent being Muslim and about 39 percent being Christian – Easter Sunday and Good Friday are public holidays.

Background

In 325CE the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the March equinox. From that point forward, the Easter date depended on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the March equinox. Easter is delayed one week if the full moon is on Sunday, which decreases the chances of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover.

Although the Council of Nicaea established the Easter date for churches around the world, not all Christian churches observe Easter according the Gregorian calendar. Many Orthodox churches still observe Easter in accordance with the Julian calendar.

In the Orthodox circles, tensions exist between New Calendarists – those who use the revised Julian calendar for calculating the feasts of the ecclesiastical year – and Old Calendarists – those who continue to use the traditional Julian calendar. The calendar question reflects the dispute between those who wish to synchronize with the modern Gregorian calendar and those who wish to maintain the traditional ecclesiastical calendar based on the Julian calendar.

There have been a number of proposed Easter date reforms. In 1997 the World Council of Churches proposed a reform to solve the Easter date difference between churches that observe the Gregorian calendar and those that observe the Julian calendar. So far, this reform has not been implemented.

Symbols

Easter celebrations in Orthodox Christian communities usually include a spit-roast lamb dinner and a display of hard-boiled eggs, dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. The egg was an important symbol in the mythologies of many early civilizations and was also connected with the springtime fertility rituals. Many Greeks rap their eggs against their friends’ eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg is considered lucky. The red eggs are usually prepared on Holy Thursday in countries such as Greece. According to tradition, the Virgin Mary dyed eggs red to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and to celebrate life. A traditional Easter dinner may consist of red-dyed eggs baked into a braided loaf of bread, spit-roasted, herb-perfumed baby lamb, and assorted vegetables.

One of the most common Christian symbols associated with Easter is the lamb. It is often depicted with a banner that bears a cross, and it is known as the Agnus Dei, meaning “Lamb of God” in Latin. The symbol’s origin relates to the Jewish Passover. In ancient times the Jews sacrificed a lamb in the course of the festival. The early Christians associated the sacrifice of the lamb with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. They connected the joyous Passover festival, which celebrates the liberation of Jewish people from years of bondage in Egypt, with the liberation from death represented by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Zipper Day
Apr 1 all-day

On April 29, celebrate the zipper it because it is Zipper Day.

Zipper Day Fun Church The zipper makes our daily life simpler. ©iStockphoto.com/Nomadsoul1

The zipper makes our daily life simpler.

We all tend to take for granted most things around us. The humble zipper that is holding up your pants, skirt or dress right now is one of those things.

Swedish-American Invention

This unofficial holiday commemorates the day in 1913 when Swedish-American engineer, Gideon Sundback received the patent for the modern-day zipper.

Before Sundback came up with his tool, there were many versions of this wondrous device without which, being fashionable today may have just been a bit more harder.

World’s Fair Debut

One of the first recorded versions of the zipper came in 1851 from Elias Howe – an American inventor who is often credited as a developer of the technology for sewing machines. In the late 19th century, Whitcomb Judson invented a clasp locker which made its debut in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. This invention did not catch on as much as Judson had hoped for, but did earn him the title of the Inventor of the Zipper.

How to Celebrate?

  • It is such a simple thing, but a zipper makes our lives so much easier. Spend the day contemplating on other similar objects that are simple, but vital to our day to day lives.

Did You Know…

…that Japanese manufacturer YKK Group accounts for 45% of the world’s zippers?

Orthodox Good Friday
Apr 1 @ 1:17 am – 2:17 am

Millions of Orthodox Christians commemorate Good Friday, also known as “Great Friday” to remember the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. The Orthodox Easter dates usually differ from the dates used by western churches because most Orthodox churches retained some version of the Julian calendar, which is older than the Gregorian calendar, commonly used today.

Good Friday Orthodox Church Good Friday is a time for many Orthodox Christians to remember Jesus' death on the cross. ©iStockphoto.com/Richard Goerg

Good Friday is a time for many Orthodox Christians to remember Jesus’ death on the cross.

What Do People Do?

On Good Friday, many Orthodox Christian churches hold special liturgies with readings from the Gospels of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In countries such as the United States, some Orthodox churches hold evening liturgies throughout Holy Week, with some special afternoon liturgies for children on Good Friday. Church activities may include: a family retreat with children’s activities; discussion groups; the wrapping of the red eggs to be distributed on Easter Sunday; and a Lenten lunch. Many adult Orthodox Christians observe Good Friday with fasting, prayer, cleanliness, self-examination, confession and good works.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America celebrates the Passion of Christ, or the last moments of his life according to the New Testament in the Bible, on Good Friday. This liturgy is long, but its content is dramatic. The liturgy also includes participation in prayers and the historical sequence of the events, as related in the Gospels and hymns.

In Greece, Good Friday is a day of mourning so many people may avoid household chores. A ritual lament called the “Procession of the Epitáphios of Christ” mourns the death of Christ on the cross with a symbolic decorated coffin carried through the streets by the faithful. Families attend their church to decorate the Epitaph (Bier of Christ) with flowers. In the morning of Good Friday, Christ’s burial is reenacted in many churches and in the evening the Epitaph procession takes place.

Public Life

Good Friday is officially observed in countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon and the Republic of Macedonia. Some embassies are closed in these countries on Good Friday but travelers and expats will need to check first with their own embassies. Many public offices, schools and banks will also be closed.

There are no federal Orthodox Easter public holidays in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, it is a time for families and friends of the Orthodox Christian faith to gather together and to celebrate the Orthodox Easter period.

Background

In the early Church Good Friday was called “Pascha of the Cross” because it marked the beginning of that Passover. It is part of the Easter period which is observed by both Orthodox and western churches alike, although the Easter dates may differ.

The Council of Nicaea established the Easter date for churches around the world in 325CE but not all Christian churches observed Easter according the Gregorian calendar after it was first introduced in 1582. Many Orthodox churches still observe Easter in accordance with the Julian calendar. Therefore the Orthodox Easter period occurs later than the Easter period that falls around the time of the March equinox.

In the Orthodox circles, tensions exist between New Calendarists – those who use the revised Julian calendar for calculating the feasts of the ecclesiastical year – and Old Calendarists – those who continue to use the traditional Julian calendar. There have been a number of proposed Easter date reforms. In 1997 the World Council of Churches proposed a reform to solve the Easter date difference between churches that observe the Gregorian calendar and those that observe the Julian calendar. So far, this reform has not been implemented.

Symbols

Good Friday commemorates the moments leading up to and including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament of the Bible. The most common symbols in observing Good Friday are the cross and crucifix and traditions include the venerations of the cross and the preaching or singing of the Passion of Christ.

In Greece, many flags at homes and government buildings are set at half mast to mark the mournful day. The icon of Christ is taken off the cross in churches and is then wrapped in linen and placed in a great casket covered in flowers symbolizing the tomb of Christ. The bier is then taken through the town or village, with people lamenting the death of Christ.

Apr
2
Tue
Honesty Day
Apr 2 all-day

April begins with a day that celebrates falsehoods – April Fool’s Day. End it with a day that celebrates and acknowledges the importance of honesty – Honesty Day.

Honesty Day Fun Church Honor truthfulness and honesty today. ©iStockphoto.com/starfotograf

Honor truthfulness and honesty today.

Celebrated annually on April 30, the day was created by M. Hirsh Goldberg, the former press secretary to the state of Maryland, United States in the early 1990s.

Speak the Truth

Goldberg created the holiday as a way to encourage people to speak the truth and to “honor the honorable”.

A Rare Quality

Famous American singer-songwriter, Billy Joel once sang that honesty is such a lonely word, suggesting that honesty is a very rare quality in all kinds of relationships – personal, professional and social.

This unofficial holiday, also sometimes called National Honesty Day, emphasizes that honesty does not need to be a lonely word and that truthfulness can strengthen relationships and make them more productive.

How to Celebrate?

  • Be truthful. Embrace truth and honesty.

Did You Know…

…that the phrase honesty is the best policy was coined by Benjamin Franklin?

Orthodox Holy Saturday
Apr 2 all-day

Holy Saturday is the day between Jesus Christ’s crucifixion (Good Friday) and his resurrection (Easter Sunday), according to Christian belief. Many Orthodox Christians commemorate the burial of Christ on this day.

Holy Saturday Orthodox Church Many Orthodox churches contemplate the mystery of Jesus Christ’s descent into Hades. He was placed in a tomb after he died. ©iStockphoto.com/Tim Kimberley

Many Orthodox churches contemplate the mystery of Jesus Christ’s descent into Hades. He was placed in a tomb after he died.

What Do People Do?

Holy Communion can be received on Holy Saturday morning in some Orthodox churches in countries such as the United States. Some churches hold a midnight liturgy between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

In Greece, Holy Saturday is filled with the anticipation of celebrating Easter Sunday. In some areas, people begin to gather in the churches and squares in cities, towns and villages by 11pm for the Easter liturgies. Many people carry large white candles and the church bells toll as the priests announce “Christ is Risen!” at midnight between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Fireworks are set off and each person in the crowd responds with set joyous responses. After this, everybody goes home for a meal – the fasting period is over. If their candles are still burning, a cross is made in the doorway with the soot to protect the house for the coming year.

An Easter liturgy is also held on Saturday night in many Russian Orthodox churches. Worshippers congregate in a darkened church. As midnight approaches, worshippers light candles and church bells announce the resurrection of Christ at midnight. An intensely joyful Orthodox liturgical chant can be heard throughout the streets in some parts of Russia until the conclusion of Easter liturgy at dawn.

In Lebanon, which also observes the Orthodox Easter, it is traditional that on the afternoon of Easter Saturday people visit seven churches to be blessed at each of them. Some people place a piece of dough in a tree on Saturday night, believing it will be blessed by Christ. On Sunday evening they place small pieces of that dough in other food containers so that these will also become blessed.

Many people flock to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which is believed to be the site of Jesus Christ’s burial, on Holy Saturday. They come to this place to experience an annual event, which is deemed as a miracle, known as the Holy Fire. According to many Orthodox Christian sources, this fire occurs annually at the same place and time, and in the same manner. The Holy Fire liturgy is broadcast live in countries such as Greece and Russia.

Public Life

The Easter period is officially observed in countries including: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Ukraine. There are no federal Orthodox Holy Saturday public holidays in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, it is a time for families and friends of the Orthodox Christian faith to gather together and to celebrate the Orthodox Easter period.

Background

Holy Saturday is the day between Jesus’ death and his resurrection. Many Orthodox churches contemplate the mystery of Jesus Christ’s descent into Hades, the world of the dead. According to the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, death is defeated from within. It is the day of watchful expectation when mourning is transformed into joy. Holy Saturday is part of the Easter period observed by both Orthodox and western churches alike, although Easter dates often tend to differ between the churches.

The Council of Nicaea established the Easter date for churches around the world in 325CE but not all Christian churches observed Easter according the Gregorian calendar after it was first introduced in 1582. Many Orthodox churches still observe Easter in accordance with the Julian calendar. Therefore the Orthodox Easter period occurs later than the Easter period that falls around the time of the March equinox.

In the Orthodox circles, tensions exist between New Calendarists – those who use the revised Julian calendar for calculating the feasts of the ecclesiastical year – and Old Calendarists – those who continue to use the traditional Julian calendar. There have been a number of proposed Easter date reforms. In 1997 the World Council of Churches proposed a reform to solve the Easter date difference between churches that observe the Gregorian calendar and those that observe the Julian calendar. So far, this reform has not been implemented.

Symbols

The tomb of Christ is an important symbol on Holy Saturday – it is no ordinary grave because it does not represent a place of corruption, decay and defeat. It is life-giving, a source of power, victory and liberation.

During Holy Saturday it is customary for the clergy and people to hold candles during the singing of the Lamentations and at the procession of the Epitaphios, an icon most often found as a large cloth, embroidered and often richly adorned,. This practice is rooted in ancient Christian burial practices. Candles are lit to symbolize the victory of Christ over death, and to express as well the church’s belief in Christ’s resurrection.

In many Russian Orthodox churches, the darkened church on Holy Saturday symbolizes the despair of a world without faith in Jesus Christ. Historically, the eve of Holy Saturday was considered a haunted time when satanic creatures tormented townsmen. People were afraid to go out after dark, but persevered to attend a liturgy because the church was considered a safe haven. As midnight approaches, candles are lit and, at midnight, church bells ring as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.

Apr
3
Wed
World Party Day
Apr 3 all-day

April 3 is World Party Day. Also known as P Day, it is an annually celebrated unofficial holiday that aims to achieve social change and harmony by encouraging people to celebrate life by partying.

World Party Day Fun Church ©iStockphoto.com/petrograd99

Party for social change on World Party Day.

The idea behind the holiday is that the opposite of war and suffering should not be to passively observe peace. Instead, people must actively participate in the celebration of life.

First in 1996

The holiday is inspired by the ending of the 1995 novel, Flight: A Quantum Fiction Novel, by Vanna Bonta, where a countdown is set to April 3, 2000 when a worldwide synchronized celebration occurs. The first Party Day was held around the world in 1996.

How to Celebrate?

  • Research suggests that meeting new people from different cultures helps cultivate intercultural understanding and harmony. So why not throw a party for your family and friends and ask them to bring their friends and coworkers along?
  • Organize a block party. Peace begins at home and by being neighbourly. Spend time with your neighbours and celebrate your neighbourhood.
  • What about partying for a cause? Host a party and have your guests contribute to a cause close to your and your friends’ hearts.
  • Whatever you do and whoever you party with, remember that you need no excuse to celebrate life and to be good to others.

Did You Know…

…that the use of the word, party, to refer to a gathering where people have a good time dates back to 1922?

Apr
4
Thu
Tell a Lie Day
Apr 4 all-day

Nope, we aren’t lying, we promise! April 4 is Tell a Lie Day!

Tell A Lie Day Fun Church April 4 is Tell a Lie Day. ©iStockphoto.com/Tomwang112

April 4 is Tell a Lie Day.

The holiday of unknown origins comes just a few days after another holiday that celebrates trickery and lying – April Fool’s Day and a few weeks before Honesty Day, a made-up holiday that honors the virtue of honesty and truth-telling.

Acceptable Lying

While the name suggests that the holiday encourages people to tell lies all day long, we would like to think that the day is not an actual celebration of lying but an acknowledgement that lying is part of life and sometimes people have to lie to make others feel better. Such lies are called white lies and are possibly the only form of lying acceptable within most religions, cultures and society.

Other acceptable forms of lying include: lying while playing a game (bluffing), lies made for the purposes of amusement of the liar or other people (jocose lies) and untruthful statements made without any malicious intent (honest lie).

This holiday is also known as National Tell a Lie Day in the US.

How to Celebrate?

While we cannot in good conscience endorse or encourage lying, here are some harmless ways to celebrate this “fictional” holiday:

  • Missed April Fool’s Day? Use this day to make up for it by playing harmless tricks on friends, family and colleagues.
  • Make up silly stories about harmless things and recount them to the people around you. Who knows, you may even get a laugh or two out of your listeners!
  • Read more about how to detect deception and lying.
  • Play games that require bluffing.
  • Read tales that warn people about the dangers of lying. Some of these tales include, The Boy who Cried Wolf and Pinocchio.

Did You Know…

…that a true or fase response to the question this statement is not true leads to a contradiction called the Liar’s Paradox? If the response to this statement is that it is true, then the statement is false, and if the response to the statement is that it is false, then the statement is true.

Apr
5
Fri
Read a Road Map Day
Apr 5 all-day

Read a Road Map Day is on April 5. It encourages people to go on an adventure the old fashioned way, with a paper map!

Read Road Map Day Fun Church Pick up a road map and go on an adventure. ©iStockphoto.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd

Pick up a road map and go on an adventure.

Also known as National Read a Road Map Day, the unofficial holiday is a throwback to what the kids today call the “old days” before GPSs.

No GPS

Road maps, or route maps, are navigational maps that usually show roads and landmarks in a specific area.

In recent years, the rise of Global Positioning System (GPS) and mobile technology is making paper maps outdated.

How to Celebrate?

When was the last time you picked up a map and used it for directions? No, not a GPS or a map app, but an actual paper map? Don’t remember? Here are some ways to celebrate Read a Road Map Day:

  • Take a short road trip and use only paper maps to guide you. Take a navigator who does the map reading and directing for you. If you do not have a navigator, please make sure you only read the map when your car is at a complete stop.
  • If you have never read a map, take some time to learn to read one. We reckon it will be a good skill to have in the unlikely event of a zombie apocalypse.
  • Learn more about maps and how they are made.

Did You Know…

…that the Turin Papyrus is thought to be the oldest recorded road map in the world? Historians believe that it was created around 1160 BC.

Soup’s On @ St Stephen's Memorial Hall
Apr 5 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

St Stephen’s Memorial Hall

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Apr
6
Sat
National Tartan Day in Canada
Apr 6 all-day

Tartans of all varieties are worn on Tartan Day, which recognizes and celebrates the contributions of Scots and their descendants in Canada on April 6.

Tartan Day Canada Church Scottish Highland dancers perform at a National Tartan Day celebration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. ©iStockphoto.com/PaulMcKinnon

Scottish Highland dancers perform at a National Tartan Day celebration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.

What Do People Do?

Tartan Day celebrations include parades with pipe bands, highland dancing and sports, and other community gatherings with Scottish-themed events. While a variety of tartans are displayed, the maple leaf tartan is Canada’s official tartan.

Public Life

Tartan Day is an observance and not a public holiday in Canada.

Background

On October 21, 2010, the Minister of Canadian Heritage officially declared April 6 as Tartan Day. It is celebrated on April 6 because it is the anniversary of the signing of Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, the Scottish declaration of independence. In Canada, the day originated in the late 1980s in Nova Scotia, where it was declared an official day by the provincial government. It then spread across the country, with many provinces joining in.

Sorry Charlie Day
Apr 6 all-day

April 6 is Sorry Charlie Day, a day to recognize that everyone gets rejected sometime in his or her life. The name of the holiday comes from the phrase, sorry Charlie, popular in the United States.

Sorry Charlie Day Fun Church Sorry Charlie is a phrase that came from a tuna advertisement. ©iStockphoto.com/wrangel

Sorry Charlie is a phrase that came from a tuna advertisement.

According to some, the phrase comes from a Starkist Tuna commercial in the 1970s.

Tasty Tuna

In the commercial, the main character, Charlie the Tuna, believes he has good taste and wants to be caught by the Tuna company. The company however, rejects Charlie by attaching a note to a fish hook that says “Sorry Charlie ”. The reason Charlie is rejected by the tuna company is because the company prefers to catch a tuna that tastes good, and not a tuna that has good taste.

Rejection Phrase

The phrase is now is commonly used as a response to someone who has experienced a rejection. It can be sometimes be seen as an uncaring response.

How to Celebrate?

  • Think back on all the rejections in your life – academic, professional and personal – and spend the day reflecting on what you learned from each of them.
  • Treat yourself because you didn’t let any rejections let you down.

Did You Know…

…that some schools of tuna fish swim alongside dolphins as a way to protect themselves from sharks and other predatory sea life?

Apr
7
Sun
The Lord’s Day
Apr 7 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Apr
11
Thu
Barbershop Quartet Day
Apr 11 all-day

April 11 is Barbershop Quartet Day, a day that celebrates barbershop music, a style of harmony singing without any accompanying music.

Barbershop Quartet Day Fun Church Barbershop quartets started in the barber shop. ©iStockphoto.com/radrev

Barbershop quartets started in the barber shop.

The unofficial holiday commemorates the founding of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America in 1938.

Waiting Songs

As the name suggests, barbershop music originated in 19th century American barbershops, a place where men, usually African American, came to socialize. While waiting for their turn with the barber, these men sang, harmonized improvised songs and created a genre of music that is now known as barbershop music.

Straw Hats

A barbershop quartet is a group of 4 men, each with their own unique voices – second tenor, first tenor, bass and baritone – singing songs in the barbershop style.

Barbershop quartets have a signature dressing style that includes bright striped jackets, straw hats and big moustaches.

How to Celebrate?

  • Celebrate the day by getting acquainted with Barbershop music and its history.
  • Attend a barbershop quartet show and enjoy their music.

Did You Know…

…that barbershop music is a type of a capella? A capella is a style of singing without any accompanying instrumental music. The word comes from the Italian word for according to the church.

Apr
12
Fri
Grilled Cheese Day
Apr 12 all-day

April 12 is Grilled Cheese Day, a day to celebrate this hearty bread and cheese dish and to make every meal out of it.

Slice up bread, add cheese in between and grill up a delicious grilled cheese. ©iStockphoto.com/juliedeshaies

Slice up bread, add cheese in between and grill up a delicious grilled cheese.

A grilled cheese consists of grilling or toasting a slice of cheese between two slices of bread.

Comfort Meal

Enjoyed today by people around the world as an after school or as a comfort meal, the modern version of a grilled cheese is believed to have originated in the United States during the 1920s when sliced bread and cheese became easily available.

The cheese usually used in grilled cheese is American cheese which is a processed cheese product that has a very low melting point. Hot tomato soup, potato chips and pickles are common accompaniments of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Cheese Toastie

The British version of a grilled cheese is called a cheese toastie. The cheese of choice for a toastie is cheddar cheese.

The unofficial holiday of unknown origins is also sometimes known as National Grilled Cheese Day.

How to Celebrate?

  • Make grilled cheese for all your meals. Have an egg and bacon grilled cheese for breakfast, a tomato and mozarella grilled cheese for lunch and a traditional grilled cheese for dinner.
  • Who says grilled cheese has to be savory? Make a dessert grilled cheese with fruit and brie or cream cheese and chocolate spread.
  • Gourmet up your grilled cheese by adding gourmet ingredients to it. What about adding some bacon in to the mix or some arugula and roasted beets for the vegetarians? Substitute tomato soup with sweet potato soup or pumpkin soup.

Did You Know…

…that mozzarella is the most consumed cheese in the world?

Soup’s On @ St Stephen's Memorial Hall
Apr 12 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

St Stephen’s Memorial Hall

hospitality-soups on-heritage