Calendar

Mar
14
Thu
Commonwealth Day in Canada
Mar 14 all-day

Commonwealth Day is annually held on the second Monday of March. it commemorates the Commonwealth of Nations, which is a union of some countries that used to be part of the British Empire. The date was chosen because it did not have any previous historical connotations.

Commonwealth Day Canada

On Commonwealth Day the Royal Union flag is flown with Canada’s national flag on or at government buildings and premises.

What Do People Do?

Commonwealth Day is not a widely marked day in many parts of Canada. Federal government regulations stipulate that the Royal Union Flag, or Union Jack, should be flown alongside the national flag of Canada on or at government buildings and premises, such as federal buildings, military bases and airports. The Royal Union Flag should only be flown from sunrise to sunset and where physical arrangements allow. In practical terms, this means that there should be at least two flag poles. The Royal Union Flag should not replace the Canadian flag if there is only one flag pole. In some years, particular communities mark Commonwealth Day with receptions or exhibitions.

Public Life

Commonwealth Day is not a public holiday in Canada. Stores, post offices, businesses and other organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their normal timetables. Schools may be closed, as Commonwealth Day often falls in the mid-winter break, a school holiday in March, which lasts one week.

Background

In the 1800s, Great Britain controlled a large empire that included a large part of what is now Canada. Many influential figures in Canada at that time had British roots and wished to celebrate and emphasize these. From 1898, Empire Day was celebrated in Canadian schools on the last school day before Queen Victoria’s Birthday on May 24. The celebrations often lasted a whole day and included speeches by trustees and the singing of inspirational songs. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, her birthday became an annual commemoration of her life and the pride people felt for being part of the British Empire. To celebrate, people often lit fireworks and bonfires.

As time passed and Canadians developed a separate identity from Great Britain, Empire Day became less important. In 1958, it was renamed Commonwealth Day to reflect the changes in the relationship between Great Britain and her former colonies. In 1973, a Canadian proposal was made to observe Commonwealth Day on the same day in all Commonwealth countries, the second Monday in March. This date was chosen because it did not have any significant historical connotations.  In 1976, this proposal was accepted. However, the last Monday before or on May 24 remained a statutory holiday, known as Victoria Day, in many Canadian provinces and territories.

Commonwealth Day is also officially observed in a large number of countries that were formally part of the British Empire. These include many of the countries in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. However, there are few notable celebrations to mark the day.

Good Friday in Canada
Mar 14 all-day

Good Friday occurs two days before Easter Sunday. It is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which plays an important part in the Christian faith. It is also a statutory holiday in all Canadian provinces and territories except Quebec, where it is partially observed.

Good Friday Church

Good Friday Church A depiction of Jesus on the cross.

What Do People Do?

Christians may attend special church services, even if they do not attend church regularly during the rest of the year. Good Friday is a day of mourning and quiet prayer among many Christians. The candles are often extinguished and statues, paintings and crosses may be draped in black, purple or gray cloth. Some Catholics observe a partial fast on Good Friday and do not eat any meat.

Hot cross buns are a traditional treat on Good Friday. These are small bread-like buns, made from dough that contains raisins, currants and other dried fruit. The top of a hot cross bun is marked with a cross and covered with a sugar glaze. The cross may be cut into the bun or marked with a special dough that remains pale even after it has been baked. Hot cross buns may be eaten as they are, split and spread with butter or toasted.

For Canadians who are not Christians Good Friday is the start of a three or four-day weekend. This is a welcome spring break, which some people use to visit family or friends. It is also a popular time to take a short vacation.

Public Life

Good Friday is a public holiday at a national level in Canada. Schools and many businesses and organizations are closed and many people have a day off work. Post offices are closed and in some areas, particularly in the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, stores are closed or have restricted opening hours. Public transport services many run to their usual or restricted timetables. In rural areas, public transport may close down completely.

In Quebec, Good Friday or Easter Monday are a statutory general holidays at the option of the employer. Schools and post offices are closed. Public transport services many run to their usual or restricted timetables. In rural areas, public transport may close down completely.

Background

Good Friday is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. This is an important event in Christianity, as it represents the sacrifices and suffering in Jesus’ life. The crucifixion was the culmination of a number of events in Holy Week, including: the triumphal return of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus; and the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

On Good Friday in 1964 (March 27), a large earthquake occurred when a fault between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates ruptured. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Prince William Sound in Alaska, USA, but also caused a tsunami. This damaged or destroyed more than 400 homes in communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island, including Port Alberni and Zeballos.

Symbols

The most important Good Friday symbol is the crucifix, or cross, which represents the way Jesus died. Some crosses bear a figure of Christ. Other symbols of Good Friday include black cloth used to cover the cross, paintings and statues in churches and some homes to signify mourning. In addition, some people deliberately create a bare appearance in their homes and churches by removing all flowers and shiny objects.

Napping Day
Mar 14 all-day

Napping Day is an unofficial holiday that falls on the Monday after DST begins.

napping day fun heritage

Take a nap or two to celebrate Napping Day.

The day was created as a way to compensate for the hour people lose because of the clock change. But this is one holiday that most people can get behind..

Short Period of Sleep

A nap is a short period of sleep usually taken during the day. Studies have shown that one or more short naps during the day can help increase productivity and alertness. It is believed that many successful people in history napped often. Some of these people were Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Napoleon.

Many Short Naps a Day

Many animals are polyphasic sleepers. This means that they take multiple naps during the day. Until the invention of electricity and affordable artificial lighting, humans slept in at least two long stretches during the night. They first slept for about 4 hours. This was called first sleep. They then woke up for a few hours during which they smoked, visited their friends and ran other errands. They would then go back to sleep for what is now called the second sleep. This pattern of sleeping went out of fashion by the 17th century, as more and more people began to afford ways to artificially light up their homes after dark and in the early mornings.

How to Celebrate?

  • Take a short nap.
  • If your country does not observe DST, then follow the DST and Napping day schedule of another country. Why lose out on a holiday just because your country doesn’t have DST?

Did You Know…

…that a NASA study among pilots and astronauts found that short naps can increase performance by 34% and alertness by 54%?

Mar
15
Fri
Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
Mar 15 all-day

Honor all the incredible kids in your life on Absolutely Incredible Kids Day, a holiday celebrated every year on the third Thursday in March.

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day Fun Church

Encourage children to do incredible things

The day inspires and encourages kids to do amazing things by letting them know how incredible they are.

Let Them Know

Created by Camp Fire, a multicultural and non-sectarian youth development organization, the unofficial holiday encourages parents and guardians to acknowledge and reward their children’s’ achievements.

Boosts Self-Esteem

Researchers agree that encouragement from parents and family members can raise a young person’s self-esteem and can help them become more responsible. Psychologists also warn that parents should not praise traits that the child cannot change. Instead parents should reserve praise for efforts in areas that are in the control of the child, such as decision making skills, behavior towards other people and animals, responsibility and attitude.

How to Celebrate?

  • Camp Fire encourages people to send letters of encouragement to kids to let them know how important they are.
  • Inspire the children in your life by telling them that they are awesome and that they can do incredible things.

Did You Know…

…that the trampoline and the earmuffs were invented by children?

Holy Saturday
Mar 15 all-day

Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus Christ lay in the tomb after his death, according to the Christian bible. It is the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. It is also known as Easter Eve, Easter Even, Black Saturday, or the Saturday before Easter.

Holy Saturday Church

Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus (sculpture of him pictured above) lay in his tomb after he died. He was resurrected on Easter Sunday, the day after Holy Saturday, according to Christian belief.
©iStockphoto.com/Edward Lin

What Do People Do?

Many Christians worldwide observe Holy Saturday by remembering it as the day when Jesus lay in the tomb. It is a day of both sadness and joy among Christians in many cultures. Many churches hold an Easter vigil (watch) service. Discussions about the meaning behind the rituals, prayer and symbols that are all part of the Easter vigil occur during these services. Some churches also hold large baptism services on this day.

Holy Saturday is known as Judas Day in Mexico, where people burn effigies of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Street vendors sell the effigies, which range in height, and make Judas look as ugly as possible. Effigies designed for children are stuffed with candy and hung in patios at people’s homes. Other effigies are seen on the streets or hung on lamp posts. Firecrackers are attached to many of these effigies and are ignited as soon as the Mass of Glory is over. Children scramble for the candy inside the effigies after they explode.

A Czech custom, known as White Saturday, is to rattle keys and burn out Judas by burning the last of the holy oil before the church door. Holy Saturday is observed by the blessing of food and Easter baskets in Poland. Children in many countries spend time decorating and coloring eggs on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.

Public Life

Holy Saturday is a public holiday in many parts of Australia (where it is known as Easter Saturday), and in places such as (but not exclusive to):

  • Belize.
  • Chile.
  • El Salvador.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Macau.
  • Nicaragua.
  • Panama.
  • Papua New Guinea.
  • Samoa.
  • Seychelles.
  • Solomon Islands.
  • Zambia.                    
  • Zimbabwe.

Holy Saturday is not a national public holiday in countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Background

Holy Saturday is the last day of Holy Week and ends the season of Lent. It is also known as the Vigil of Easter. The day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting. The vigil stems back to when Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday. It is also known as the day when Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that he had risen from the dead.

Holy Saturday was also known as Great or Grand Saturday, as well as the Angelic Night. It was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted in the early days of the Christian church. According to some sources, fasting occurred during the entire day or lasted for 40 hours before the Easter Sunday sunrise during the first century CE. This day was a major day for baptisms in the early church. Many churches still hold large services for baptisms on Holy Saturday.

Some people refer to Holy Saturday as Easter Saturday but this is a misnomer, as Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent and the eve of Easter. The Saturday after Easter Sunday is known as Easter Saturday, or Bright Saturday. It is important to note, however, that Holy Saturday is often referred to as Easter Saturday by some government sources in countries such as Australia.

Symbols

The Paschal candle, which is made of white wax, symbolizes leading people out of the darkness into the celebration of the Easter vigil. The candle is marked with a cross, an alpha and an omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). This symbolizes that Jesus Christ has, and always will be with humanity, and is with humanity now, according to Christian belief.

Soup’s On @ St Stephen's Memorial Hall
Mar 15 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

St Stephen’s Memorial Hall

hospitality-soups on-heritage

Mar
16
Sat
Easter Sunday
Mar 16 – Mar 17 all-day

Easter Sunday in Canada celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection after his death, which is described in the Christian Bible. Some people observe Easter Sunday by attending church while others spend time with their families and friends or engage in Easter egg activities.

Easter Sunday Canada Church

Easter eggs are part of the Easter tradition in Canada.

What Do People Do?

Easter is a religious holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death by crucifixion. For Christians, Easter is a day of religious services and family gatherings. Easter Day is a popular day for attending church, getting together for a big family meal, and staging an Easter egg hunt. It is also a good time for people to decorate Easter eggs, join in Easter craft contests and to indulge in holiday recipes, such as mustard-crusted lamb and the Easter basket cake.

The Bal en Blanc’s main event is held every Easter Sunday, attracting thousands of partygoers every year in Montreal.

Public Life

Many businesses, government offices, banks and liquor stores are closed on Easter Sunday.

Background

Many people organized spring festivals associated with the Pagan gods in ancient times. Many festivals celebrated nature’s rebirth, the return the land to fertility and the birth of many young animals.The idea of modern day Easter eggs derives from these festivals.

Many ideas associated with spring were then linked with Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection as the Christianity spread throughout the world. The crucifixion is remembered on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter Sunday. The idea of the resurrection became joined up with the ideas of re-birth in Pagan beliefs. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

Symbols

Easter candles are sometimes lit in churches on the eve of Easter Sunday. Some believe that these can be directly linked to the Pagan customs of lighting bonfires to welcome the rebirth or resurrection of the sun god.

Eggs of all types are an important symbol of Easter. They represent the rebirth of nature in the spring and the promise of new life in the spring and summer months to come and are seen as a reflection of the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. Easter eggs, whether they are made of chocolate or candy or are decorated hens eggs, are common gifts all over the world during Easter. However, the biggest Easter egg in the world is a representation of a Ukrainian Easter egg, known as a Pysanka, located in Vegreville, Alberta.

The Pysanka in Vegreville was constructed in 1974 to mark the centenary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to celebrate Vegreville’s strong links with the Ukraine. It is made of more than 2000 aluminium triangles fixed together with nearly 7000 bolts and 177 internal struts. The egg is more than 25 feet (nearly eight meters) in diameter and is decorated with a gold, silver and bronze design. Its construction represented significant advances in computer modeling, mathematical theory, architectural design and engineering construction.

Mar
17
Sun
Easter Monday
Mar 17 all-day

Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday, which commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, according to the Christian Bible. Easter Monday is also a holiday for many Canadians.

Easter Monday Church

A basket of Easter eggs.
©iStockphoto.com/Shannon Long

Celebrate Easter Monday

A proportion of Canadians have a day off work on Easter Monday and for some it is the end of a four-day weekend. People who have been on a short vacation or who have visited family or friends often travel home on Easter Monday. For others, it is a chance to eat their easter eggs, relax and, depending on the weather and when Easter falls, enjoy some time outdoors.

Public Life

The Canadian federal government lists Easter Monday as a statutory holiday but this isn’t the case with some provincial and territorial governments. Some state that the holiday is taken at the employer’s option. Rules about this holiday change and vary across businesses and provinces/territories from time to time.

Schools, businesses and organizations are closed in places where Easter Monday is a day off. Public transport services may run to reduced timetables. In rural areas, there may be no public transport services.

About Easter Monday

Easter Monday is a holiday in many English speaking countries, including England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Australia, and European counties. The tradition of having a holiday on the day after Easter Sunday was brought to Canada by European immigrants. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

Symbols

Eggs of all types are an important symbol of Easter. They represent the rebirth of nature in the spring and the promise of new life in the spring and summer months to come and are seen as a reflection of the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. Easter eggs, whether they are made of chocolate or candy or are decorated hens eggs, are common gifts all over the world during Easter. However, the biggest Easter egg in the world is a representation of a Ukranian Easter egg, known as a Pysanka, located in Vegreville, Alberta.

The Pysanka in Vegreville was constructed in 1974 to mark the centenary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to celebrate Vegreville’s strong links with the Ukraine. It is made of more than 2000 aluminium triangles fixed together with nearly 7000 bolts and 177 internal struts. The egg is more than 25 feet (nearly eight meters) in diameter and is decorated with a gold, silver and bronze design. Its construction represented significant advances in computer modeling, mathematical theory, architectural design and engineering construction.

St. Patrick’s Day
Mar 17 all-day

St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador on the nearest Monday to March 17 each year. It remembers St Patrick, a missionary who converted many of Ireland’s inhabitants to Christianity in the 5th century. His feast day also celebrates Irish culture.

St Patrick's Day Church

St Patrick’s Day, which is an official holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, celebrates Irish culture, history and traditions

What Do People Do?

In some cities, notably Toronto and Montreal, large scale St Patrick’s Day parades are held, often on the Sunday closest to March 17. The parade in Montreal has been held every year since 1824. However, the first recorded celebration of St Patrick’s Day was in 1759 by Irish soldiers serving with the British army following their conquest of part of New France, a French colony in North America. In some places there are Irish cultural events. For instance, the Irish Association of Manitoba organizes a three-day festival of Irish culture in the week of St Patrick’s Day.

People who have an Irish background or enjoy Irish culture may hold Irish themed parties and serve traditional dishes, such as Colcannon or Irish stew. Colcannon is a dish of mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage and Irish stew is traditionally made with lamb and root vegetables. Traditional Irish drinks include stout, a dark beer, and whiskey. Other parties may be themed around the color green. Guests may be expected to wear green clothes and only green food and drink is served.

Public Life

St Patrick’s Day is an official holiday in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is observed by the provincial government, but post offices, stores, many schools, businesses and other organizations are open. Public transport services run on their regular timetables.

St Patrick’s Day is not a public holiday in other parts of Canada. Schools, organizations, businesses, stores and post offices are open as usual. Some organizations may arrange St Patrick’s Day parties, but these do not usually disrupt normal affairs. Public transport services run on their regular timetables. In cities, where parades or large public events are held, there may be some congestion or road closures.

Background

St Patrick’s Day marks the feast day and anniversary of the death of a Christian missionary known as Patrick. He was born in the year 387, probably somewhere near the present day border between Scotland and England. At the age of 16, he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave. During this period, he became very religious and after six years he fled back to his family.

Later in his life, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. He is said to have played an important role in converting the inhabitants of Ireland to Christianity and in ridding the island of snakes. However, there is no evidence that there have been any snakes in Ireland in the past 10,000 years. The “snakes” he drove out of Ireland may represent particular groups of pagans or druids. It is believed that St Patrick died on March 17 probably in the year 461 or 493 (according to different sources). St Patrick is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, and is one of the three patron saints of Ireland. The other patron saints are St Brigid of Kildare and St Columba.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations were brought to Canada by Irish immigrants. The day is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. In the rest of the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, it is celebrated, but is not an official holiday.

Symbols

The most widely-seen St Patrick’s Day symbols are the colors green, and sometimes orange, and the shamrock. The shamrock is a symbol of Ireland and a registered trademark of the Republic of Ireland. It is the leaf of the clover plant, which grows on the ground, often among grass and an Irish Catholic symbol of the Holy Trinity. It is sometimes confused with the four-leaf clover, which is a variety of the three-leaf clover and is thought to bring good luck.

The Lord’s Day
Mar 17 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
19
Tue
Let’s Laugh Day
Mar 19 all-day

Let’s Laugh Day is celebrated every year on March 19. It is an unofficial holiday that encourages people to laugh and enjoy the benefits of laughter.

Let's Laugh Day

Laughter can help increase the quality of your life.

Studies have suggested that laughter can help people relax and reduce stress. Laughing and being joyful can also have health and social benefits.

Many Health Benefits

Medical studies have shown a few minutes of laughter can reduce blood pressure, increase immunity response of the body and boosts heart rate. Watching or reading something humorous before sleep can also help people sleep better and longer.

Laughing can even burn calories. Research has shown that 10-15 minutes of laughing can burn up to 50 calories.

Friendly People

People who laugh often are seen by their peers as happy and friendly. As a result, they tend to have more friends and are easily accepted as a part of different social groups.

How to Celebrate?

Here are some ways you can celebrate this happy “howl”iday:

  • Laugh out loud for a few minutes on this day.
  • Spend some time reading jokes and funny stories.
  • Watch a funny movie.
  • Attend a stand-up comedy show.

Did You Know…

…that children laugh more than adults? An average toddler laughs about 400 times a day, while an average adult tends to laugh about 15-20 times a day.

Mar
22
Fri
International Goof Off Day
Mar 22 all-day

March 22 is International Goof Off Day. The unofficial holiday encourages people to take the day to relax and do unproductive and useless things.

International Goof Off Day Fun Church

Goof away on International Goof Off Day.

Goofing off or to goof off is an expression popularly used in the United States.

Neglecting Work

The expression refers to the act of doing something that is unproductive while neglecting actual, important work. A goof off is a person who engages in such acts and ignores his or her duties and tasks.

Careless Mistake

The word goof can be used to refers to a careless mistake as well as someone who makes them.

International Goof Off Day is also known as National Goof Off Day in the United States.

How to Celebrate?

  • Goof the whole day off. Don’t do anything that is productive or important.
  • Spend the day online or even better switch off your computer and all your mobile devices and goof off in the outdoors.

Did You Know…

…that the world’s most famous goofy comic character, Goofy was originally known as Dippy Dawg?

Soup’s On @ St Stephen's Memorial Hall
Mar 22 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

St Stephen’s Memorial Hall

hospitality-soups on-heritage

Mar
23
Sat
Puppy Day
Mar 23 all-day

March 23 is Puppy Day, a day reserved for recognizing the joy and love that puppies bring to our lives.

Puppy Day Fun Church

Give a puppy a big hug today and remember to always advocate for puppy adoption.

First celebrated in 2006, the unofficial holiday, which is also known as National Puppy Day in the United States, was created by Coleen Paige, an animal behaviorist. The day calls for people to adopt puppies and to work towards putting an end to puppy farms and mills.

Inhumane Treatment

Puppy mills are places where dogs are kept and bred for the sole purpose of selling them. Many mills operate under inhumane conditions and treat dogs only as breeding machines. Old, sick dogs and those that are unable to give birth to puppies are often left loose on the streets to fend for themselves or euthanized. Puppy Day shines a light on these conditions and encourages people to adopt their canine family members. By doing so, it reduces the financial incentives that keep puppy mills running.

Celebrated Many Times a Year

The deep bond between humans and their furry best friends is celebrated several times in a year. Unofficial annual holidays that are dedicated to the canines in our families include Dog Appreciation Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Work Like a Dog Day, and Hug Your Hound Day.

How to Celebrate?

  • If you already have puppies, give them an extra hug on this day and show them how much you love them.
  • If you are thinking of adding one to your family, don’t dilly dally. Go to your nearest adoption center and adopt a puppy today.
  • Don’t have a puppy or prefer to have kittens around? Don’t despair, you can spoil and pamper your furry friends on Hug Your Cat Day.

Did You Know…

…that a dog’s nose print is as unique as a human’s fingerprint?

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).

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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.