Friday, December 21, 2007

Ember Days

Last year I learned about an old Christian tradition called Ember days. Here is a description of it from Farmers Alamanac:

"Ember Days
Definition: The Almanac traditionally marks the four periods formerly observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches for prayer, fasting, and the ordination of clergy. These Ember Days are the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays that follow in succession after (1) the First Sunday in Lent; (2) Whitsunday–Pentecost; (3) the Feast of the Holy Cross, September 14; and (4) the Feast of St. Lucia, December 13. The word ember is perhaps a corruption of the Latin quatuor tempora, "four times." Folklore has it that the weather on each of the three days foretells the weather for three successive months; that is, for September’s Ember Days, Wednesday forecasts weather for October, Friday for November, and Saturday for December

And this explanation:

"These times are spent fasting and in penance and with the intentions of thanking God for the gifts He gives us in nature and beseeching Him for the discipline to use them in moderation.

The fasts, known as "Jejunia quatuor temporum," or "the fast of the four seasons," are rooted in Old Testament practices of fasting four times a year:

Zacharias 8:19: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Juda, joy, and gladness, and great solemnities: only love ye truth and peace.

Our Israelite ancestors once fasted weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Christians changed the fast days to Wednesdays (the day on which Christ was betrayed) and Fridays (the day on which He was crucified). The weekly two day fasts were later amended in the Roman Church to keeping only Fridays as penitential days, but during Embertides, the older, two-day fasts are restored. Saturdays (the day He was entombed) were added to these Ember times of fasting and are seen as a sort of culmination of the Ember Days. Interestingly, the story of Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago's escape from King Nabuchodonosor's fiery furnace with the help of an angel is commemorated on each Saturday of Embertides except that of Whit Embertide, and part of their beautiful hymn of praise follows (Daniel 3:52-56. )

I've tested the folklore and last year and this year has rang true for where I live. Interesting huh?!

So today is the Friday Ember day which, as we know is a day for prayer, fasting and thanksgiving for The Father's gifts to us from nature, and folklore says today may determine February weather. We'll see....

I am grateful for the sun, the food that grows even in the winter, and for lettuce (I'm part bunny... ask any family member!).

God's peace to you ~

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