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Roger writes

High Days, Holidays and Anniversaries – June and July 2019

June 1st   The Glorious First, named for Lord Howe’s defeat of the French in 1794.

June 2nd  Twenty million watch the Coronation on TV in 1953.

June 3rd  June Bank Holiday

June 6th  D Day landings in 1944, part of Operation Overlord

June 9th  Pentecost commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles in Jerusalem fifty days after the resurrection. Better known in Britain as Whitsun. In north-west England the whole week was a holiday, with the highlight the Whit Walks.

July 8th   The Sovereign’s  official birthday. Trooping the colour

June 10th The Duke of Edinburgh’s 99th birthday

June 16th Trinity Sunday, recognized by the Pope as a festival day in 1334.
After Pentecost all three manifestations of God have been completed.
Fathers’ Day in the USA.

June 23rd Midsummer Eve, before Midsummer Day on 24th.

July 12th  Battle of the Boyne 1690

July 13th  Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia  1985

July 14th Sea Sunday and Disability Awareness Day

July 16th  First atomic bomb detonated in New Mexico

July 17th  Refugee Week. July 20th World Refugee Day, Feast of Corpus Christi.

July 20th  ‘One Giant Step for Mankind’ 1969

July 22nd  St Mary Magdalene, patron saint of pharmacists, hairdressers, prostitutes and sinners.

July 24th  Gibraltar captured by the British in 1704

July 29th  First Scout camp with Baden Powell on Brownsea Island

July 30th  ‘They think it’s all over’  1966

July 31st   First public use of the Royal Mail 1635

High Days and Holidays  - April and May 2019

April 1st All Fools Day originated five hundred years ago. If two lovers chose some poor individual to be their go-between, that person was called a poisson d’avril. This became the term for anyone sent on a fool’s errand, like finding elbow grease or pigeon’s milk. Hoaxing has been taken to new levels by the media, with reports about the spaghetti harvest or the island of San Seriffe. Joking must end by 12 noon or ‘You’re the fool and I am none’. 

April 14th Palm Sunday which marks the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, riding on an ass. The people welcomed him by laying palms in his way, symbolising victory and later martyrdom. Since the Middle Ages church-goers have had palm crosses blessed by their priest on this day, which marks the start of Holy Week

April 18th Maundy Thursday takes its name from the Latin mandatum (commandment). At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, indicating that following God involves humble service. It has been customary for popes, monarchs, bishops and priests to wash the feet of the poor. The last British monarch to do so was James II, but the custom of the monarch presenting gifts survives. The Queen distributes the Maundy money in a different cathedral each year, giving two purses of money to the same number of men and women as her age.

April 21st Easter Day, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ, takes its name from the pre-Christian goddess of dawn, Easter. It is a movable feast, its date governed by a calculation agreed at the Council of Nicaea in 325.

April 19th Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion, probably gets its name from ‘God’s Friday’.   Many eat fish rather than meat and hot cross buns are popular.  Because Christ was crucified on a Friday, and there were 13 people at the Last Supper, there is a superstition that Friday 13th is unlucky.   

April 23rd St George’s Day is marked by few festivities in England, despite campaigns to make it a public holiday. Blame Henry VII who banned the worship of saints. April 23rd is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

May 1st Labour Day and since 1978 there has been a public holiday attached, falling this year on May 6th.  Older traditions had to do with bringing in the may (hawthorn) and decorating doors and windows with this and other flowers. The May Queen and maypole dancing possibly have their origins in the Roman festival of Floralia.

May 6th Ramadan begins for followers of Islam.

May 27th and 29th Rogation Days (from the Latin rogare, to ask), a time when rural communities asked God’s blessing on the crops.

May 30th Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, is the time when Christians celebrate the ascension of Christ into heaven.