Orthodox Ascension Day
Orthodox Ascension Day, also known as the Feast of Ascension, is a significant holiday on the Orthodox Christian Church’s calendar. It is celebrated on the 40th day following Easter Sunday and is observed by Christians around the world. This day celebrates Jesus’ ascension as recorded in the Book of Acts in the New Testament. Following his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples for a period of 40 days to teach them about the Kingdom of God.
After this period, Jesus then ascended to heaven and assumed his position at the right hand of God. It’s this event that’s observed by this holiday every year.
The History Of Orthodox Ascension Day
Accounts of the ascension can be found in several New Testament books. These include the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles. According to these sources, Jesus rose to join the right hand of God on the 40th day after his Resurrection. The Orthodox Church, which is a church that can trace its lineage to the early Christian communities of the eastern Mediterranean, always placed a great deal of emphasis on the Feast of the Ascension.
For hundreds of years, this holiday has been observed with special services, prayers, and hymns. It’s a feast day that’s observed with a lot of joy, as Easter Monday is observed, but with a touch of solemnity as well.
Observing Orthodox Ascension Day
This holiday is observed in a number of different ways. It’s observed with special church services that feature hymns, Bible readings, sermons, and prayers. It’s also observed in some Orthodox communities with special Ascension Processions that feature members of the clergy or congregation carrying religious icons and artifacts through the streets of the village or town.
It’s also a day when clergy in rural communities bless fields to bestow God’s protection on crops that are going to be planted over the next few months. Different types of foods are eaten on Orthodox Ascension Day, according to where the celebrations occur. In some areas, birds are eaten on this holiday because it’s symbolic of Christ “flying” to heaven.
In other countries, lamb is eaten — a food that is symbolic of the sacrifices of Jesus. This is also a day for people to decorate their churches with flowers, and other symbols of the feast. A new tradition observed on this day is spreading the word about this holiday using the hashtag #OrthodoxAscensionDay online. No matter how this holiday is celebrated, however, it’s a day for reflection and joyous celebration.