These are the Ember Days of winter, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following the December 13, the feast of St Lucy.
In the traditional church calendar, the Ember Days come four times a year, one in each season – both climactic and ecumenical. The Ember Days help us march from winter to spring to summer to fall. They also help us complete the redemptive circle from Advent to Lent, from Lent to Pentecost, from Pentecost to Holy Cross, from Holy Cross to Advent.
Or, as one rather cheeky Episcopalian Priest describes it on his blog, “Lenty, Penty, Crucy, Lucy.”
These sacred days were an early church adaptation of seasonal pagan rites, sanctified through the practices of fasting, abstinence, and prayer.
I’ve never observed the Ember Days before; this year, I am fasting by necessity because of a medical procedure I will have tomorrow. My own adaptation of a pagan rite. Friday and Saturday, I’m not sure.
I can see the needfulness of the Ember Days, though — regular commitments to fasting and prayer as we move throughout the year. These days becoming a cyclical reminder of the living and dying we do from one season to the next.
And though the word “Ember” has Latin or possibly Anglo-Saxon origins, that have nothing to do with the American English definition, these days so aptly named conjure the dying coals of a fire, the last burning embers of one season awaiting the next.
Happy Ember Days!
Another Advent link . . .
Ann’s follow up to yesterday’s candle chase: Wherein Ann Discovers an Easy Advent Solution
Photo by Insane Photoholic. Used with permission under the Creative Common License.