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Ember Days - 3 days at the start of each season

Written by Anne Newman Thursday, 14 March 2019

Ember days occur four times a year at the start of each season. In Latin these days are referred to as Jejunia quatuor tempora (the fast of the four seasons), while in English they became known as “Ember Days” (from a corruption of the Latin word tempora).

Traditionally observed by some Christian denominations, each set of Ember Days is three days, kept on a successive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. This year (2019) the Spring Ember Days fall on March 13, 15 and 16. These three days are set apart for fasting, abstinence, and prayer.

They were introduced to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy.

Historically, ancient cultures were bound to the land and members of pagan religions would invoke their gods for protection over their crops. This was the case in Rome and so, when the early Christians began converting pagans, they decided to sanctify these agricultural rituals to turn their hearts to the one true God.

Fasting four times a year was also a tradition adopted from the Old Testament.

The first of these four times comes after the Feast of the Holy Cross, September 14;

the second set comes after the Feast of St. Lucia, December 13;

the third set comes after the First Sunday in Lent;

the fourth and last set comes after Whitsunday / Pentecost Sunday.

The Ember Days began on the Wednesday immediately following those days

Their dates can be remembered by this old mnemonic:

“Sant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia Ut sit in angaria quarta sequens feria.”

Which means:

“Holy Cross, Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, are when the quarter holidays follow.”

Or in an old English rhyme

"Fasting days and Emberings be Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie."
"Lenty, Penty, Crucy, Lucy"

is a shorter mnemonic for when they fall.

The weather of:

Wednesday of Advent Embertide

Friday of Advent Embertide

Saturday of Advent Embertide

Wednesday of Lenten Embertide

Friday of Lenten Embertide

Saturday of Lenten Embertide

Wednesday of Whit Embertide

Friday of Whit Embertide

Saturday of Whit Embertide

Wednesday of Michaelmas Embertide

Friday of Michaelmas Embertide

Saturday of Michaelmas Embertide

foretells the weather of:

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

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Anne is sharing a series of Notable Dates and Festivals throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link here.