Ascension of Jesus 2023
The Ascension is the event, where Jesus arose into heaven, at the end of his time on earth, in the presence of eleven of his apostles. Ascension Day also known as The Feast of the Ascension, The Ascension of Jesus, Ascension Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated on a Thursday on the 40th day after Easter (Or 39 days). However, because the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the older Julian calendar rather than the modern Gregorian calendar to calculate the date, Orthodox Christians will celebrate Ascension Day a week later than their Catholic and Protestant counterparts.
Jesus‘ time on earth started with his birth, then interrupted for three days when he died on the cross. During that time, He descended into the realm of the dead and preached the Gospel to the good people who died before Him. This allowed those good and holy souls–the righteous dead, as we call them–who accepted Christ as their Savior to proceed to heaven. On the third day after his death and burial, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, an event we call the Resurrection.
He spent the next 40 days preaching and preparing His disciples to perform the work of preaching and baptizing all people. At the end of these 40 days, Jesus ascended into heaven, we call this the Ascension.
Ascension Day is not considered as important as Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas, the festival has a relatively low profile outside the church. The day is a public holiday in France, Germany, Austria, Indonesia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Vanuatu but not in the UK, Canada, the USA, and Australia. In Portugal, people usually honor the feast by making wishes for peace and prosperity and making symbolic offerings to God made out of olive and wheat.
This year, the Ascension of Jesus falls on Thursday, May 18, 2023.
What is Ascension Day?
For 40 days after his resurrection on Easter Sunday, the Bible says that Jesus traveled and preached with his apostles, preparing them for his departure from Earth.
Ascension Day marks the moment Jesus ascended into heaven before his disciples, at the village of Bethany, near Jerusalem.
Location of Ascension
The Mount of Olives (a.k.a. Olivet and Mount Olivet) is on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount and the rest of the city of Jerusalem. The mount is in the form of a two-mile (3 km) ridge which has three summits.
Nowadays, the place where Jesus is believed to ascend into heaven is marked by the small Chapel of the Ascension which is a holy site for both Christians and Muslims. In the round building is a stone believed to be imprinted with the very last impression of Jesus’ right foot on earth. This makes the Chapel of Ascension transfigures not just a place but a site of significant divine occurrence. It is also transformed into an encyclopedia of history and a marvel to the eyes.
How is it observed?
Ascension Day in the Catholic Church the Feast of the Ascension is one of the Holy Days of Obligation, meaning that believers are obliged to attend Mass. Different traditions are held throughout the world to celebrate Ascension Day. Some churches may bless the first fruits of which grapes and beans are blessed; some churches hold mass in which the Easter candle, lit on Easter, is extinguished; some churches hold processions with parishioners carrying torches, and some churches have a statue of Jesus rising through the roof of the church symbolic to when Jesus rose into the heavens.
Nine days after Ascension Day, Christians around the world celebrate Pentecost, which marks the descent of the Holy Spirit on a gathering of early Christians, giving them the sudden ability to speak many languages and thus enabling them to preach to peoples of many nations. Therefore, church readings for the period from Ascension Day to Pentecost focus on dedication to spreading Christ’s word and hope for eternal salvation. In Germany, Ascension Thursday coincides with Father’s Day, or Men’s Day, which dates back to the 18th century as a way to celebrate Jesus returning to the Holy Father.