The Holidays Celebrated In Colonial America

Ascension Thursday

{ Forty days after Easter }

  Ascension Thursday celebrates the bodily ascension of Christ into Heaven. It is one of the "feast" holidays celebrated by the Catholic Church since before the 5th Century.

  Ascension Day was traditionally observed on the Thursday, forty days after Easter, but certain Catholic parishes moved the holiday to the following Sunday.

  A primary custom of this holiday during the Colonial Period was the blessing of the first fruits, the first harvest of the season. The first 'fruits' to ripen at this time would be grapes and some beans, and it was these two agricultural items that would most often be blessed during the Ascension Day ceremonies.

  Another custom celebrated on this day was a triumphal procession by the clergy carrying lit torches around the boundaries of the parish in imitation of the triumphant entry of Christ into Heaven.

  The Paschal Candle, a candle blessed and lit during Easter, and used throughout the Paschal season, is ritually extinguished during Ascension Day.