Special Days Celebrated In Yorkshire and the United Kingdom:
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New Year's Day - Twelfth Night - Epiphany - Plough Monday - Burn's Night - Yorkshire Pudding Day - Candlemas Day - St. Valentine's Day - Shrove Tuesday - Ash Wednesday - St. David's Day - Commonwealth Day - St. Patrick's Day - Mother's Day - First Day of Spring - April Fool's Day - Palm Sunday - The Queen's Birthday - St. George's Day - Maundy Thursday - Good Friday - Easter Sunday - Easter Monday - May Day - Ascension Day - Pentecost - Coronation Day - Trooping the Colour - Father's Day - Summer Solstice - Midsummer's Day - St. Swithin's Day - Yorkshire Day - First Day Of Autumn - Hallowe'en Night - All Saints Day - All Souls Day - Mischief Night - Bonfire Night - Remembrance Sunday - Armistice Day - St. Andrew's Day - Advent Sunday - Christmas Day - Boxing Day - New Year's Eve.


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May Day
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Every
May
1st
May Day is the time of year when warmer weather begins and flowers and trees start to blossom; it is said to be a time of love and romance and it is when people celebrate the coming of summer with lots of different customs that are expressions of joy and hope after a long winter; although summer does not officially begin until June, May Day marks its beginning and celebrations have been carried out in England for over 2000 years; the Romans celebrated the festival of Flora, goddess of fruit and flowers, which marked the beginning of summer and was held annually from the 28th April to the 3rd May.

Today, traditional English May Day celebrations include Morris dancing, the crowning of a May Queen and dancing around a Maypole, which was a spring fertility rite, that originally used a resin-smeared skinned birch, as a phallic symbol.

Ascension Day
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Ascension Day, also known as the Feast of Ascension, marks the end of the Easter season and occurs ten days before Pentecost, which is on the 40th day of Easter; it commemorates Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven, according to the New Testament of the Bible.

Ascension Day is one of the earliest Christian festivals dating back to the year 68; according to the New Testament in the Bible, Jesus Christ met several times with his disciples during the 40 days after his resurrection in order to instruct them on how to carry out his teachings; it is believed that on the 40th day he took them to the Mount of Olives, where he instructed them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit; then, as they were watching, he ascended into clouds; as they continued to watch, two angels appeared and declared to them that, just as he ascended, Jesus would return in glory.

As an Ecumenical feast, Ascension Day is one of the six holy days where attendance at Mass is mandatory for Roman Catholics and Anglicans; the event is generally a one day public commemoration, although the Church, in keeping with earlier traditions regarding festivals, offers devotions for seven days; the night before the feast, priests and deacons attend a vigil of prayers and scripture readings; on the day of the feast, Mass is attended and the Paschal candle, which was lit on Easter Sunday, is extinguished; liturgies proclaiming the finished work of salvation and the ascension of the glorified Christ into Heaven are recited, followed later by evening prayers; at the end of the seven day devotion, two additional days are kept by the priests, making a total of nine days (a novena); the novena allows for the preparation of Pentecost, which takes place the next day.

Churches around the world observe many Ascension Day traditions, such as "the blessing of the first fruits," in which grapes and beans are blessed; some churches depict the Ascension of Christ by raising a statue of Jesus above the altar and lifting it through a special door in the roof; other churches have outdoor processions with torches and banners; in an old Ascension Day tradition from England, parishioners carried a banner bearing the symbol of a lion at the head of the procession and a second banner bearing the symbol of a dragon at the rear; which represented the victory of Christ over the devil.

For many Christians, Ascension Day's meaning provides a sense of hope that the glorious and triumphant return of Christ is near; it is a reminder of the Kingdom of God within their hearts and of the ever present Spirit of God, watching over and protecting them as they spread the light of Jesus' truth throughout the world.


Pentecost
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Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit; it is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter, the name comes from the Greek pentekoste, "fiftieth"; it is also called Whitsun, but does not necessarily coincide with the Whitsun Bank Holiday in the UK; Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church's mission to the world.

Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot; the apostles were celebrating this festival when the Holy Spirit descended on them; it sounded like a very strong wind, and it looked like tongues of fire; the apostles then found themselves speaking in foreign languages, inspired by the Holy Spirit; people passing by at first thought that they must be drunk, but the apostle Peter told the crowd that the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit.

The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, wind, the breath of God and a dove; the Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Pentecost is a happy festival and ministers in church often wear robes with red in the design as a symbol of the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth; hymns sung at Pentecost take the Holy Spirit as their theme and include:

Come down O Love Divine,
Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire,
Breathe on me breath of God.
O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us,
There's a spirit in the air,
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.


Coronation Day
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Every
June
2nd
Coronation Day is the anniversary of the coronation of the current King or Queen, which is Queen Elizabeth II, she was crowned at Westminster Abbey, on the 2nd june 1953, in front of more than 8,000 guests, including prime ministers and heads of state from around the Commonwealth, she took the Coronation Oath and is now bound to serve her people and to maintain the laws of God; after being handed the four symbols of authority, the orb, the sceptre, the rod of mercy and the royal ring of sapphire and rubies, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, placed St. Edward's Crown on her head to complete the ceremony; a shout of "God Save the Queen" was heard and gun salutes were fired as crowds cheered.

An estimated three million people lined the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the new monarch as she made her way to and from Buckingham Palace in the golden state coach; the ceremony was watched by millions more around the world as the BBC set up their biggest ever outside broadcast to provide live coverage of the event on radio and television; street parties were held throughout the UK as people crowded round television sets to watch the ceremony.

Trooping the Colour
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Every
June
On
Trooping the Colour is a custom that dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th Century when the Colours of a regiment were used as a rallying point in battle and were therefore trooped in front of the soldiers every day to make sure that every man could recognise those of his own regiment; in London, the Foot Guards used to do this as part of their daily Guard Mounting on Horse Guards and the ceremonial of the modern Trooping the Colour parade is along similar lines; the first traceable mention of The Sovereign's Birthday being kept by the Grenadier Guards is in 1748 and again, after King George III became King in 1760, it was ordered that parades should mark the King's Birthday; from the accesssion of George IV they became, with a few exceptions and notably the two World Wars, an annual event.

This impressive display of pageantry is now held on the occasion of the Queen's Official Birthday; it takes place in June each year to celebrate the official Birthday of the Sovereign and is carried out by her personal troops, the Household Division, on Horse Guards Parade, with the Queen herself attending and taking the salute; since 1987, The Queen has attended in a carriage rather than riding, which she did before that on 36 occasions, riding side saddle and wearing the uniform of the regiment whose Colour was being trooped; the regiments take their turn for this honour in rotation as operational commitments permit.

Over 1400 officers and men are on parade, together with two hundred horses; over four hundred musicians from ten bands and corps of drums march and play as one; some 113 words of command are given by the Officer in Command of the Parade; the parade route extends from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and back again; precisely as the clock on the Horse Guards Building strikes eleven, the Royal Procession arrives and the Queen takes the Royal Salute; the parade begins with the Inspection, the Queen driving slowly down the ranks of all eight Guards and then past the Household Cavalry; after the event, the Royal Family gathers on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch an RAF flypast.

The Monarch's
Official Birthday

 



Father's Day
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Father's Day is held on the third Sunday of June in the UK; it is a day to honour fathers and father figures, such as fathers, grandfathers and fathers-in-law; this is a day for sons and daughters to make a special effort to visit their fathers, or at least to ring them and send them a card or gifts.

There are some suggestions that the idea of Father's Day may originate in pagan sun worship; some branches of paganism see the sun as the father of the universe and since the summer solstice occurs around the same time of year as Father's Day, some people see a link between the two.

The idea of a special day to honour fathers and celebrate fatherhood was introduced from the United States; a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd was inspired by the American Mother's Day celebrations to plan a day to honour fathers and Father's Day has been celebrated in June since 1910 in the USA; the celebrations in the UK are thought to have been inspired by the American custom of Father's Day.

So, on this Father's Day, don't forget, treat your Dad like you do your Mum on Mother's Day and make him feel special, after all you only have one Dad, like you only have one Mum, so make it a day to remember!


Summer Solstice
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Every
June
21st
Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year and the time when the sun is at its maximum elevation; Solstice, or Litha, means a stopping or standing still of the sun.

As the sun spirals its longest dance, Cleanse us.
As nature shows bounty and fertility, Bless us.
Let all things live with loving intent, And to fulfill their truest destiny.
A Wiccan blessing for Summer.

This date has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have been amazed by the great power of the sun; the Celts celebrated with bonfires that would add to the sun's energy, Christians placed the feast of St. John the Baptist towards the end of June and it is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light; like other religious groups, Pagans are in awe of the incredible strength of the sun and the divine powers that create life; for Pagans this spoke in the Wheel of the Year is a significant point; the Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height of her power and fertility.

For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest's fruits; this is a time to celebrate growth and life but for Pagans, who see balance in the world and are deeply aware of the ongoing shifting of the seasons it is also time to acknowledge that the sun will now begin to decline once more towards winter.

When celebrating midsummer, Pagans draw on diverse traditions; in England thousands of Pagans and non-Pagans go to places of ancient religious sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury to see the sun rising on the first morning of summer; many revellers typically gather at Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire, to see the sun rise.

Midsummer's Day
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Every
June
24th
Midsummer's Day is primarily a Celtic fire festival, representing the middle of summer and the shortening of the days on their gradual march to winter; Midsummer is traditionally celebrated on either the 23rd or 24th of June, although the longest day actually falls on the 21st of June; the importance of the day to our ancestors can be traced back many thousands of years and many stone circles and other ancient monuments are aligned to the sunrise on Midsummer's Day; probably the most famous alignment is that at Stonehenge, where the sun rises over the heel stone, framed by the giant trilithons on Midsummer morning.

In antiquity midsummer fires were lit in high places all over the countryside and in some areas of Scotland Midsummer fires were still being lit well into the 18th century; this was especially true in rural areas, where the weight of reformation thinking had not been thoroughly assimilated; it was a time when the domestic beasts of the land were blessed with fire, generally by walking them around the fire in a sunwise direction; it was also customary for people to jump high through the fires, folklore suggesting that the height reached by the most athletic jumper, would be the height of that years harvest.

After Christianity became adopted in Britain, the festival became known as St. John's day and was still celebrated as an important day in the church calendar; the birthday of St. John the Baptist; traditionally St. John's Eve, like the eve of many festivals, was seen as a time when the veil between this world and the next was thin, and when powerful forces were abroad; vigils were often held during the night and it was said that if you spent a night at a sacred site during Midsummer Eve, you would gain the powers of a bard, on the down side you could also end up utterly mad, dead, or be spirited away by the fairies.

Indeed St. Johns Eve was a time when fairies were thought to be abroad and at their most powerful, hence Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream'; St. John's Wort was also traditionally gathered on this day, because it was thought to be imbued with the power of the sun, as were other special flowers such as Vervain, Trefoil, Rue and Roses; these were traditionally placed under a pillow in the hope of important dreams, especially dreams about future lovers.

The festival is still important to pagans today, including the modern day druids who celebrate the solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire; for them the light of the sun on Midsummer's Day signifies the sacred Awen; for witches the summer solstice forms one of the lesser sabbats, their main festivals being Beltane and Samhain; some occultists still celebrate the ancient festivals around 11 days later than our calendar; this marks the 11 days, which were lost when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar in 1751.


St. Swithin's Day
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Every
July
15th
St. Swithin's Day is a day on which people watch the weather, for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue so for the next forty days; there is a weather-rhyme which is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times:

St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain, For forty days it will remain.
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair, For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.


St. Swithin, or Swithun, was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester; he was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester; he was famous for charitable gifts and building churches; a legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on; for 9 years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on the 15th July 971 and according to legend there was an heavy rain storm, either during the ceremony, or on its anniversary; this led to the old wives' tale that if it rains on St Swithin's Day, it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine St Swithin's Day, will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

The emblems of St. Swithin refer to the legend of the forty days' rain, raindrops, and the apples from the trees that he planted; there is an old saying that when it rains on St. Swithin's Day, it is the Saint christening the apples and many apple growers ask St. Swithin for his blessing each year because they believe:

Rain on St. Swithin's day 'blesses and christens the apples.
No apple should be picked or eaten before July 15th.
Apples still growing at St Swithin's day will ripen fully.
St Swithin is christening the apples.
Brand, Popular Antiquities, 1813, i, 342

Yorkshire Day
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Every
August
1st
Yorkshire Day is intended to celebrate the integrity of the traditional county of Yorkshire and Hedon has the privilege of hosting the key East Riding Yorkshire Day event; the date was chosen because on the 1st August 1759, British troops and their allies defeated the French at the battle of Minden; after the battle, the British soldiers picked white roses and wore them as a tribute to their fallen comrades; since that day, a number of Yorkshire based regiments have worn white roses on this day to commemorate the events of 1759, and all those from Yorkshire who have fallen in battle since, and since 1975 people have been invited to celebrate Yorkshire Day at community and civic events.

Yorkshire Day is celebrated largely as a fun event, with an opportunity to raise money for good causes, although it still serves to commemorate those who have fallen in battle; therefore, in Hedon, the honour of leading the Parade will be given to the Band of the Yorkshire 150th Transport Regiment Royal Logistical Corps; the Yorkshire 'Declaration of Integrity' is also recited at the four Bars (Gates) of York and in each of the Ridings; the readings from the three Ridings should be made facing in the direction of York, the ancient capital of the county; the 'Declaration of Integrity':

"I, [name], being a resident of the [West/North/East] Riding of Yorkshire [or City of York] declare: That Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York, with these Boundaries of 1134 years standing; That the address of all places in these Ridings is Yorkshire; That all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshiremen and women; That any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the aforementioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status. These declarations made this Yorkshire Day [year]. God Save the Queen!

The East Riding of Yorkshire Flag can be flown from public buildings but apparently should show the Rose with a sepal at the top and not the petal; a petal at the top signifies the other two ridings; above all Yorkshire Day can serve to remind us of, and have pride in, our local heritage.




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