Category: Religion Calendar

Religion Calendar, October 31

Oct. 31st marks All Hallows Eve or Halloween. PBS’ Multifaith Calendar explains:

Set on the eve of All Saints Day, in which all saints in the Christian tradition are celebrated, All Hallows Eve is a time to keep vigil and pray for the dead. Most of the current practices associated with All Hallows Eve, or Halloween — such as costumes, Trick or Treating and Jack O’ Lanterns — can be traced back to England and Ireland.

Ancient Celts believed that the boundary between the living and the dead dissolved on this day, and that evil spirits returned to cause sickness or damage crops, so they wore costumes and masks to copy and placate the dead.

Trick or Treating resembles the medieval practice of “souling,” in which poor people would go door to door, receiving “soul cake” (typically shortbread or pastry) in exchange for prayers for the dead.

Jack O’ Lanterns are related to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy farmer who tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him there by carving a cross into the trunk. In revenge, the devil cursed Jack and condemned him to forever walk the earth at night.

Oct. 28 Milvian Bridge Day

Oct. 28th marks Milvian Bridge Day — a day on which some Christians solemnly reflection on the relationship of religion and the civil government.

On October 28, 312 c.e. a battle at the Milvian (Mulvian) Bridge between Constantine and Maxentius resulted in victory for Constantine. Many traditions agree on two things – there was a vision of the Christian Cross superimposed on the sun; and the words “In This Sign, Conquer”, “In hoc signo vinces”, were experienced by Constantine. Some say it did not happen this way.

Constantine went on to become the Emperor of the Roman Empire. His experience with the Christian Way led him to make Christianity legal in the Empire. No longer were believers in Christ to be persecuted. Now the believers were recognized and honored by the imperial government.

At first seen as a great benefit to the Christian community, entanglements with the political realm and with persons of great secular power soon burdened the church with problems. Today there is debate over the relationship of Church and State and concern over the use of power to enforce religious belief and practice.

Religion Calendar, August 15, 2010

August 15, 2010: Catholics commerorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to Roman Catholic doctrine and the traditions of the Catholic Church, Mary, the mother of Jesus, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” There is no Biblical support for this belief.

Also on this day, the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos takes place. Celebrated by members of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Ortohodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, this feast commemorates the “falling asleep” or death of the Theotokos (Mary, the mother of Jesus; literally translated as God-bearer). The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Dormition not on a fixed date, but on the Sunday nearest August 15.

Religion Calendar, Aug. 11, 2011: Ramadan

Aug. 11, 2011 marks this year’s start of Ramadan — the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

It was during this month that the first verses of the Qur’an are said to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Participating Muslims refrain from drinking, eating and sexual activities from dawn until sunset.

Fasting is intended to teach Muslims the virtues of patience, humility and spirituality, and is carried out as an offering to God.

Religion Calendar: Lughnasadh

August 1 marks Lughnasadh (pronouced loo’nass’ah), one of the Pagan festivals of Celtic origin which split the year into four.

Celts held the festival of the Irish god Lugh and later, the Anglo-Saxons marked the festival of hlaefmass – loaf mass or Lammas.

Wikipedia says: Lughnasadh or Lammas is also the name used for one of the eight sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals, the other two being the Autumn equinox (also called Mabon by Wiccans) and Samhain. It is seen as one of the two most auspicious times for handfasting, the other being at Beltane.

Some Wiccans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the “corn god” in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it.