Ascension Quick Facts - US

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2024 DateMay 9, 2024
2025 DateMay 29, 2025


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Ascension History

The Observance of Ascension marks Jesus Christ's ascent into heaven. After his crucifixion and resurrection, biblical narratives detail how he ascended to heavenly realms in the presence of his disciples. It signifies the conclusion of his earthly ministry, the glorification of the resurrected Christ, and anticipates his second coming. This event offers spiritual lessons like the establishment of human dignity and divine promise.

Despite its origins in the 1st century AD, across the Atlantic, the Ascension observance found its place in American Christianity, gradually becoming intertwined with its religious landscape. The significance resonates with American Christians mainly through the theological promise of believers' own future ascension, instilling both hope and encouragement. Moreover, it greatly influences the themes of various Christian-oriented systems, activities, and media in the US.

In America, the Observance of Ascension is traditionally marked on a Thursday, forty days after Easter Sunday, symbolizing the period Jesus spent with his disciples post-resurrection. However, some regions move it to the following Sunday for practical reasons. Observances generally include church services, scripture readings, processions, and prayers. Often, sermons focus on the profound importance of Christ’s ascension and its implications for Christians today. This special day reminds followers of their divine mission on earth and assures them of heavenly glory.

Ascension facts & quotes

  • The Apostle's Creed, one of the statements of faith in the Christian Church, mentions Jesus' ascension:
    I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
    And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.
    The third day he rose from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
  • Ascension is the 40th day after Easter, celebrated on the sixth Sunday of the Easter season in Protestant churches and on the 40th day after Easter in Roman Catholic churches. It commemorates the day that Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-11) after spending 40 days appearing to his disciples after his resurrection.
  • An ancient custom in England, called the Beating of the Bounds, is often performed on or near Ascension. Before maps, this was the day that people would mark the boundaries of their property with stones marked with chalk. Some English churches still perform the custom, led by the vicar. Church members carry sticks to wick at weeds as they process.
  • In the Orthodox tradition, celebration of the Jesus' Ascension starts with an all-night vigil or vespers (evening) service beginning on Saturday.
  • Jesus' ascension into heaven does not mean his absence, but that he is alive among us in a new way, close to each one of us - Pope Francis via Twitter April, 17th, 2013

Top things to do in the US for Ascension

  • Go bird watching. A custom in Sweden, is to get up early in the morning of Ascension and venture out into the woods to listen for the call of a cuckoo. It is considered good luck to hear one on this holiday.
  • Go to church and learn about why Jesus' ascension is important to the Christian faith. Jesus is considered to be both human and divine, and the ascension is an illustration of Christ's divine nature.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach wrote several pieces related to both Easter and the Ascension. Listen to Bach's the Ascension Oratorio, Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (Praise God in His Kingdoms) on YouTube.
  • View paintings that depict the ascension. One of the most famous works is The Ascension Of Christ by Rembrandt Van Rijn.

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