Special Days Celebrated In Yorkshire and the United Kingdom:
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First Day Of Autumn
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Every
September
22nd
The First Day Of Autumn, in the northern hemisphere, is the day of the year when the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving southwards; there are two equinoxes every year, in March and September, when the sun shines directly on the equator; the declination of the Sun on an equinox is 00° 00' and day and night have nearly the same amounts of time; the seasons are opposite on either side of the equator, so the equinox in September is also known as the 'Autumnal (fall) Equinox' in the northern hemisphere; however, in the southern hemisphere, it's known as the 'Spring (vernal) Equinox'; 'Equinox', derived from Latin, means 'Equal Night'.

As the Earth travels around the Sun in its orbit, the north south position of the Sun changes over the course of the year because of the changing orientation of the Earth's tilted rotation axes; the dates of maximum tilt of the Earth's equator correspond to the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice and the dates of zero tilt to the Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox; for part of the year the Earth's North Pole points away from the sun and part of the time toward it; this is what causes our seasons; when the North Pole points toward the sun, the sun's rays hit the northern half of the world more directly; that means it is warmer and we have summer.

In reality equinoxes don't have exactly 12 hours of daylight; the September equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator, the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's equator, from north to south; this happens either on the 22nd, 23rd or 24th September every year; on any other day of the year, the Earth's axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun, but on the two equinoxes, the Earth's axis doesn't tilt either away.

In the northern hemisphere the September equinox marks the first day of Autumn and many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays and festivals around this equinox; from here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter.

Hallowe'en Night
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Every
October
31st
Hallowe'en Night, a shortened version of All Hallows' Evening, also known as All Hallows' Eve, is an holiday that is observed around the world and is the night before All Saints' Day; much like the Day of the Dead celebrations, the Christian feast of All Hallows' Eve incorporates traditions from pagan harvest festivals and festivals honouring the dead, particularly the Celtic Samhain, derived from the Old Irish Samuin meaning "summer's end"; Samhain was the first and by far the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish and Scottish calendar and, falling on the last day of autumn, it was a time for stock taking and preparation for the cold winter months ahead; there was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen.

To ward off these spirits, the Gaels built huge, symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice; in the Western Isles of Scotland the Sluagh, or fairy host was regarded as composed of the souls of the dead flying through the air, and the feast of the dead at Hallowe'en was likewise the festival of the fairies.

Typical festive Hallowe'en activities include Trick-or-Treating, also known as Guising, attending costume parties, carving Jack-o'-Lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, watching horror films, as well as the religious observances of praying, fasting and attending vigils or church services.

The carving of jack-o'-lanterns springs from the Christian souling custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory; the turnip was traditionally used in Ireland and Scotland at Hallowe'en, but when All Hallows Eve arrived in North America by boat, like everything else at that time carried by the European immigrants to the New World, the holiday exploded in the United States and Canada with the wave of Irish that came over during their country's potato famine in the mid 19th century, but as the new Americans couldn't find their usual produce to carve at Halloween, they turned instead to a reasonable fascimile, the pumpkin; turnips were scarce in the New World, so pumpkins became the veggie of choice.

Hallowe'en is also thought to have been heavily influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints' Day, also known as Hallowmas, All Hallows, Hallowtide and All Souls' Day; falling on November 1 and 2 respectively, collectively they were a time for honouring the saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach heaven; by the end of the 12th century they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing bells for the souls in purgatory and 'souling', the custom of baking bread or soul cakes for "all christian christened souls".

It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving onto the next world; to avoid being recognised by a soul, Christians would wear masks and costumes to disguise themselves, following the lighted candles set by others to guide their travel for worship the next day; today, this practice has been perpetuated through children trick or treating.

The practice of children dressing up in costumes and begging door to door, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?", dates back to the Middle Ages; the word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given; in some parts of Scotland children still go guising; in this custom the child performs some sort of trick, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, to earn their treats; trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas, receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls' Day.

Hallowe'en, trick or treating, Mischief Night and Bonfire Night are all part and parcel of what used to be one festival.

All Saints Day
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Every
November
1st
All Saints Day is when the Church honours all saints, known and unknown; while we have information about many saints and we honour them on specific days, there are many unknown or unsung saints, who may have been forgotten, or never been specifically honoured.

On All Saints Day, we celebrate these saints of the Lord, and ask for their prayers and intercessions; the whole concept of All Saints Day is tied in with the concept of the Communion of Saints; this is the belief that all of God's people, on heaven, earth, and in the state of purification, called Purgatory in the West, are connected in a communion; in other words, Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that the saints of God are just as alive as you and I and are constantly interceding on our behalf.

Our connection with the saints in heaven is one grounded in a tight knit communion; the saints are not divine, nor omnipresent or omniscient; however, because of our common communion with and through Jesus Christ, our prayers are joined with the heavenly community of Christians; St. Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 350) testifies to this belief:

"We mention those who have fallen asleep: first the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition..."
Catechetical Lecture 23:9.

The Catholic Catechism concisely describes this communion among believers, by which we are connected to Christ, and thus to one another:

"Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness...They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us...So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."

"...as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself: We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples."
CCC 956, 957

All Souls Day
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Every
November
2nd
All Souls Day is also known as the 'Day of the Dead' and is usually on the 2nd November, unless the 2nd falls on a Sunday, then it is on the 3rd November.

All Soul's Day is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away; it comes from the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family; candles placed in the window would guide the souls back home and another place was set at the table; children would come through the village, asking for food to be offered symbolically to the dead, which was then donated to feed the hungry.

The day intentionally follows All Saint's Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory; it is celebrated with masses and festivities in honour of the dead; while the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls reminds us of our obligations to live holy lives and that there will be purification of the souls of those destined for Heaven.

All Soul's Day pays respect and remembers the souls of all friends and loved ones who have died and gone to heaven; the living pray on behalf of Christians who are in purgatory, the state in the afterlife where souls are purified before proceeding to heaven; souls in purgatory, who are members of the church just like living Christians, must suffer so that they can be purged of their sins; it is a time to pray for their souls that they may be received into heaven.

Upon death, it is believed that souls have not yet been cleansed of sin; therefore, praying for souls of loved ones helps to remove the stain of sin and allows the souls to enter the pearly gates of heaven; through prayer and good works, living members of the church may help their departed friends and family; there are three Requiem Masses that are said by the clergy to assist the souls from Purgatory to Heaven, one for the celebrant, one for the departed and one for the pope.

The Feast of All Souls owes its beginning to 7th century monks who decided to offer the mass on the day after Pentecost for their deceased community members; in the late 10th century, the Benedictine monastery in Cluny chose to move their mass for their dead to the 2nd November, the day after the Feast of all Saints; this custom spread and in the 13th century, Rome put the feast on the calendar of the entire Church; the date has remained the 2nd November, so that all in the Communion of the Saints might be celebrated together.

Traditional Catholics still honour customs related to the relief of the souls suffering in purgatory; one custom is for persons to pray six Our Fathers, Hail Mary's and Glory Be's for the intentions of the Pope in a church, and thereby, receive a plenary indulgence for a soul in purgatory; this action may be repeated for another soul, by leaving the church and re-entering it to repeat the prayers.

Mischief Night
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Every
November
4th
Mischief Night is a centuries old tradition of doing mischief such as putting treacle on doorknobs and egg throwing; its exact origins are unknown, but it is thought to date from the 1700s when a custom of Lawless Hours or Days prevailed in Britain; these were times when normal laws were suspended and tricks could be played ranging from throwing cabbage stalks at people, to the swapping of shopkeeper's signs and gates.

Since the 1950s, Mischief Night appears to have died out in all areas of the UK except Yorkshire and other parts of northern England, and it is not at all clear why; what is known is that arrests go up around Mischief Night; the catalyst seems to be as soon as the clocks fall back, obviously it gets darker earlier and kids are out; so at this time of year, supermarkets ban the sale of flour and eggs to under 16s, and contrary to the popular belief that on Mischief Night you are immune from prosecution, police will take action.

In the past, Hallowe'en, Trick or Treating, Mischief Night and Bonfire Night were all part and parcel of what used to be one festival and many children acted like imps; more often mischievous rather than evil or harmful; no real harm was meant.

Bonfire Night
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Every
November
5th
Bonfire Night is related to The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which was intended to kill King James I and everyone sitting in the Houses of Parliament all at the same time on the 5th November 1605; Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators rented out a house right by the Houses of Parliament and managed to get 36 barrels of gunpowder into a cellar of the House of Lords; Guy Fawkes, who had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse was caught when a group of guards checked the cellars; he was subsequently tortured, until he confessed, and then executed with some of the other conspirators.

The First Bonfire Night: On the 5th November 1605 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the King's escape from assassination by lighting bonfires, always provided that "this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder"; an Act of Parliament designated each 5th November as a day of thanksgiving for "the joyful day of deliverance", and remained in force until 1859.

In Britain, the 5th November has variously been called Guy Fawkes Night, Guy Fawkes Day, Plot Night and Bonfire Night; the latter can be traced directly back to the original celebration of the 5th November 1605; bonfires were accompanied by fireworks from the 1650s onwards and it became the custom to burn an effigy, usually the Pope, after 1673, when the heir presumptive, James, Duke of York made his conversion to Catholicism public; effigies of other notable figures who have become targets for the public's ire, such as Paul Kruger and Margaret Thatcher, have also found their way onto the bonfires, although most modern effigies are of Fawkes; the guy is normally created by children, from old clothes, newspapers and a mask.

 



Remembrance Sunday
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2012
2013
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2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
November
November
November
November
November
November
November
November
November
10th
10th
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8th
13th
12th
11th
10th
8th
Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to the 11th November Armistice Day; it is the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918, to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.

In the United Kingdom, Remembrance Sunday is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in most cities, towns and villages, attended by civic dignitaries, ex-servicemen and women, principally members of the Royal British Legion, members of local armed forces regular and reserve units, Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve, Army and Territorial Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force, Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps as well as the Combined Cadet Force and the Scouts and Guides; wreaths of remembrance poppies are laid on the memorials and a two minutes silence is held at 11 a.m; church bells are usually rung half muffled, creating a sombre effect.

The United Kingdom national ceremony is held in London at the Cenotaph on Whitehall and, since 2002, also at the Women's Memorial; the silence represents the eleventh hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, when the guns of Europe fell silent; this silence is marked by the firing of a field gun on Horse Guards Parade to begin and end the silence, followed by Royal Marines buglers sounding Last Post; the event consists mainly of an extensive march past, with army bands playing live music, each year following the list of the Traditional Music of Remembrance; after the ceremony, a parade of veterans, organised by the Royal British Legion, marches past the Cenotaph, each section of which lays a wreath as it passes.

Armistice Day
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Every
November
11th
Armistice Day commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918; while this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the cease fire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire.

The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war; an exception is Italy, where the end of the war is commemorated on the 4th November, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti; after World War II, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations; in many parts of the world, people observe two minutes of silence at 11am local time as a sign of respect in the first minute for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war, and in the second minute dedicated to the living left behind, generally understood to be wives, children and families left behind but deeply affected by the conflict; this gesture of respect was suggested by Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper, although Wellesley Tudor Pole had established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.

In the United Kingdom, beginning in 1939, the two minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to the 11th November in order not to interfere with wartime production should the 11th November fall on a weekday; after the end of World War II, most Armistice Day events were moved to the nearest Sunday and began to commemorate both World Wars; the change was made in many Commonwealth countries, as well as the United Kingdom, and the new commemoration was named Remembrance Sunday or Remembrance Day; both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are now commemorated formally in the UK; in recent years Armistice Day has become increasingly recognised, and many people now attend the 11am ceremony at the Cenotaph in London, an event organised by The Western Front Association, a UK charity dedicated to perpetuating the memory of those who served in the First World War.

St. Andrew's Day
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Every
November
30th
St. Andrew's Day is celebrated by Scots around the world, due to being the Patron Saint of Scotland; he was thought to have been a fisherman in Galilee, along with his elder brother Simon Peter, both of whom became followers of Christ; St. Andrew is said to have been responsible for spreading the tenets of the Christian religion though Asia Minor and Greece and tradition suggests that St. Andrew was put to death by the Romans in Patras, Southern Greece by being crucified; the diagonal shape of this cross is said to be the basis for the Cross of St. Andrew which appears on the Scottish Flag.

St. Andrews bones were entombed and around 300 years later were moved by Emperor Constantine to his new capital Constantinople; legend suggests that a Greek Monk called St. Rule was warned in a dream that St. Andrews remains were to be moved and was directed by an angel to take those of the remains which he could to the "ends of the earth" for safe-keeping; St. Rule dutifully followed these directions, removing a tooth, an arm bone, a kneecap and some fingers from St. Andrew's tomb and transporting these as far away as he could; Scotland was close to the extremities of the known world at that time and it was here that St. Rule was shipwrecked with his precious cargo; St. Rule is said to have come ashore at a Pictish settlement on the East Coast of Scotland and this later became St. Andrews; thus the association of St. Andrew with Scotland was said to have begun.

Perhaps more likely than the tale of St. Rule's journey is that Acca, the Bishop of Hexham, who was a reknown collector of relics, brought the relics of St. Andrew to St. Andrews in 733; there certainly seems to have been a religious centre at St. Andrews at that time, either founded by St. Rule in the 6th century or by a Pictish King, Ungus, who reigned from 731 to 761; whichever tale is true, the relics were placed in a specially constructed chapel; this chapel was replaced by the Cathedral of St. Andrews in 1160, and St. Andrews became the religious capital of Scotland and a great centre for Medieval pilgrims who came to view the relics.


Advent Sunday
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2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
December
December
November
November
November
December
December
December
November
2nd
1st
30th
29th
27th
3rd
2nd
1st
29th
Advent Sunday is the first day of the liturgical year in the Western Christian churches; it also marks the start of the season of Advent; in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist churches the celebrant wears violet coloured or blue vestments on this day, and the first violet or blue Advent candle is lit at Mass.

Advent Sunday is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day; this is equivalent to the Sunday nearest to St Andrew's Day, on the 30th November, and the Sunday following the Solemnity of Christ the King; it can fall on any date between the 27th November and the 3rd December; when Christmas Day is on a Monday, Advent Sunday will fall on its latest possible date.

Advent, anglicised from the Latin word adventus, meaning 'coming,' is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ; it is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas; it is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi; the progression of the season may be marked with an Advent calendar, a practice introduced by German Lutherans; for Christians, the season of Advent serves as a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return from Heaven where he now sits at the Right Hand of God.

Christmas Day
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Every
December
25th
Christmas Day is the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; it a religious and cultural holiday celebrated by billions of people around the world; a feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide; the original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was the 6th January, in connection with Epiphany, but there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar, so when the calender changed, so did the date of Christmas Day.

No-one knows when Jesus was born, neither which day nor even year; one reason for this is that at the time Jesus was born people used the Roman calendar, which was different to ours; it is now believed that Jesus was born between 7BC and 2BC; the word Christmas comes from Cristes maesse, or 'Christ's Mass'.

Around 350 years after Jesus birth, Pope Julius 1 chose the 25th December as the date of the Nativity; this date seemed to be a good choice because many people had from early times celebrated other winter festivals around this time, such as the Roman Saurnalia where Saturn, the god of Harvest, was honoured by merrymaking and Yule time, in Northern Europe, when giant logs were trimmed with ribbons and green plants and burned in honour of the gods, who it was hoped would make the sun shine more brightly.

Both of these festivals were around the time of the winter solstice which is the shortest day of the year, in Northern parts of the world; Christmas Day is a public holiday in Christian countries and festivities include the exchanging of presents; to children this is probably the most exciting day of the year, when if they have been good they can open the gifts left by Santa Claus.
Boxing Day
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Every
December
26th
Boxing Day is traditionally a day following Christmas when wealthy people in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants; today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on the 26th December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws; it is observed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations.

The exact etymology of the term 'Boxing' is unclear and there are several competing theories, none of which is definitive; the tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions; the European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to some immigrants arriving at a colony in boxes or baskets strapped together with hemp rope and in the late Roman/early Christian era, metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.

In the UK, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect 'Christmas boxes' of money, or presents, on the first weekday after Christmas, as thanks for good service throughout the year; this is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for the 19 December 1663; this custom is linked to an older English tradition, since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families and the employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftover food.

New Year's Eve
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Every
December
30th
New Year's Eve is the day before New Year's Day, and people celibrate as they await the start of the new year; as the New Year begins, the chimes of Big Ben are broadcast to the nation, to mark the start of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar, and a large fireworks display is started on the banks of the Thames, in London; the 2012 New Year's fireworks display dazzled its way into the early minutes of the New Year and has been widely hailed, by both the media and public, as an "awesome" display and a stunning success; in other places around the United Kingdom's coast, groups of people dressed up in fancy costumes and ran into the cold sea.

Many people now make New Year's resolutions; these are promises to themselves that they will lead a better life in some way in the coming year; common New Year's resolutions include stopping smoking, losing weight, eating more healthily, getting more exercise or spending less money; though it may also be nice to make a resolution such as 'to treat others as one would like others to treat oneself'.

In Scotland many people sing the song 'Auld Lang Syne' at the stroke of midnight as New Year's Day begins; in Scotland and northern England, it is customary to go first footing; this is the first person to enter a house on January 1; a male first footer supposedly brings good luck, but a female bad luck; in different areas there are different traditions about whether the first footer should have fair or dark hair, whether the person should bring coal, salt or other things and what food or drink that person should be served after arrival.




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