Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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chicken lady
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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 10:06am | IP Logged Quote chicken lady

this year? I heard it is not been this early in 160 yrs, and won't be this early for another 100 years. We celebrate Christmas until Feburary 2nd!
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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 10:38am | IP Logged Quote MaryM

Lent is early because as you noted Easter is early. It is so early because Easter is assigned by a series of celestial happenings that haven't occured this early in a long time. Easter is assigned to the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. This year that full moon actually falls on the first day of spring, March 21. And this year that full moon date is a Friday so Easter is only two days after. Easter could potentially be one day earlier (March 22nd is earliest possible date) and that would be if March 21st was a Saturday and also a full moon.

This (2008) will be the earliest that Easter has been in our lifetime but not 160 years. The last time it was on March 23 it was 1913, so a little less than a hundred. The next earliest this century was March 24 in 1940. My birthday has only been after Easter a couple times in my life and never this much after (4 days). It will feel very strange.

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 10:44am | IP Logged Quote chicken lady

Thanks Mary, where did you find those dates. I just heard a homily stating what I mentioned in my original post. Not that it matters much, just sort of interesting thing to discuss with dc, on a freezing winter day
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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 10:46am | IP Logged Quote DominaCaeli

chicken lady wrote:
We celebrate Christmas until Feburary 2nd!


Yeah, we'll be packing our Christmas stuff away on February 2nd too--just in time for Ash Wednesday! It really does seem strange to have Quinquagesima as the day after Candlemas!

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 11:35am | IP Logged Quote 10 Bright Stars

Ok Celeste, what is Quinquagesima? I should probably know this, right? I am still soaking in all the celestial reasoning concerning Easter's timing etc. I "knew" all of that, but not that well, and I certainly could not explain it that well. Thankis MaryM!


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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 11:41am | IP Logged Quote kingvozzo

Ok, our priest said that Christmas was over...hmmm I can't remember what feast it was the, the week after Epiphany maybe? I'm drawing a complete blank right now That was the day he had everyone take the pointsettia's home
Baby Patrick will be one on Holy Sat. this year, but my oldest's bday has been Good Fri. or /holy Sat in the past, and he's 4/21...

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 11:43am | IP Logged Quote SimplyMom

Ok, I might just be one of the world's biggest nerds, but I find math and dates very exciting.

I wrote about this on my blog last week, but here it is:

From wikipedia: In the Western Church, Easter has not fallen on the earliest of the 35 possible dates, March 22, since 1818, and will not do so again until 2285. It will, however, fall on March 23 in 2008, but will not do so again until 2160. Easter last fell on the latest possible date, April 25, in 1943 and will next fall on that date in 2038. However, it will fall on April 24, just one day before this latest possible date, in 2011.

The cycle of Easter dates repeats after exactly 5,700,000 years, with April 19 being the most common date, happening 220,400 times, or 3.9% compared to a mean for all dates of 162,857 times, or 2.9%.


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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 11:52am | IP Logged Quote Tami

There's also Setting the Date for Easter and How is the Date for Easter set?. The first link explains Quinquagesima, etc.

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 12:02pm | IP Logged Quote MaryM

SimplyMom wrote:
Ok, I might just be one of the world's biggest nerds, but I find math and dates very exciting.

Right there with you - I find this fascinating.

SimplyMom wrote:
It will, however, fall on March 23 in 2008, but will not do so again until 2160.



Molly, I wonder if your priest was using information like this date and just confused it in the explanation. I've gotten my dates/info from various sources - may of which have been mentioned here.

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 12:08pm | IP Logged Quote Mary G

kingvozzo wrote:
Ok, our priest said that Christmas was over...hmmm I can't remember what feast it was the, the week after Epiphany maybe? I'm drawing a complete blank right now That was the day he had everyone take the pointsettia's home
Noreen -- our pastor told us Christmas ended on the Baptism of the Lord as this starts his public life. Made sense to me and that's how the LTP liturgical calendar shows it too.....

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 12:13pm | IP Logged Quote Mary Chris

Christmas used to end on Candlemas, so that may be the confusion. I have no idea when they changed Christmas to end on the Baptism of the Lord, nor do I have any sources for you. I asked the question in CGS training and got my answer from the trainer. My mom used to always leave her artifical Christmas tree up until Feb 2.

This is the first year my dd's bday is not in Lent. She is quite happy about that . This year it is Easter Tuesday.

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 12:28pm | IP Logged Quote DominaCaeli

Eight Wonders wrote:
Ok Celeste, what is Quinquagesima? I should probably know this, right?


Sorry for the confusion--Quinquagesima is a celebration from the old calendar, which is what we follow at our home. It marks roughly 50 days before Easter (so the Sunday before Ash Wednesday). There is also Septuagesima and Sexagesima, which are 70 days and 60 days before Easter, respectively. It is the way that Catholics "count down" to Lent in the traditional calendar. (Actually, the entire season of Lent in the old calendar is often called "Quadragesima," or "40 days.")

Mary Chris wrote:
Christmas used to end on Candlemas, so that may be the confusion.


Yep, that's right--Candlemas used to mark the end of the 40-day-long Christmas season. We still keep this tradition, so we still have carols playing and the tree lights up!    We attend the Traditional Latin Mass, so it just makes sense for us to follow these customs at home as well.

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 2:21pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

Wow, then 16-yo dd should celebrate her 17th birthday in style then -- March 24, Easter Monday!

Thanks for all the info!

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 2:29pm | IP Logged Quote SuzanneG

MaryM wrote:
SimplyMom wrote:
Ok, I might just be one of the world's biggest nerds, but I find math and dates very exciting.

Right there with you - I find this fascinating.

Darcee-My mom and I read this last week on your blog and spent a good 10 minutes talking about it at dinner..dh was making eyes at us .

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 2:30pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

I dislike it when I have a question and spend so much time finding an answer to no avail!

I was just going to address the 40 days of Christmas and why it's changed, but I haven't found a suitable answer. I looked at the old calendar, and technically Christmastide did NOT last until February 2nd. It was actually called "Time After Epiphany" which continued until Septuagesima Sunday (70 Days before Easter). Even in the old calendar Green vestments were worn.

So what changed is "Time After Epiphany" is now Ordinary Time until the Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday of Lent. Instead of the calendar having Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost sections of the calendar, Ordinary Time is new title.

The old Saint Andrew's Missals have wonderful explanations of the Liturgical Calendar. I now think I need to scan that info!

February 2nd is a Christmas feastday, just like March 25 is also a feast day related to Christmas outside the Christmas season.

Of course, the 40 days from Christmas to the Presentation reflects the pattern of 40 days of Lent and 40 days of Easter. I always surmised the shortening of the Christmas season was to give Easter the focal point, but I can't back that up. I can find the changes to the calendar, but I can't find commentary or reasons for the changes. And now I'm reading that the Christmas season never was 40 days...

I'm all confused.

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 2:57pm | IP Logged Quote Carole N.

Our church still has the nativity up at the altar. The priest said this was the old custom to keep it up until February 2nd, the official end of the Christmas season.

As far as Easter and Lent, it is early, but Jenn, I have an Easter birthday this year! I remember when I had my 5th birthday, my mother made it an Easter birthday ... but I believe it was the day before or after Easter. It does not happen early very often, but it does happen occassionally.

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 5:06pm | IP Logged Quote DominaCaeli

JennGM wrote:
I looked at the old calendar, and technically Christmastide did NOT last until February 2nd. It was actually called "Time After Epiphany" which continued until Septuagesima Sunday (70 Days before Easter). Even in the old calendar Green vestments were worn.


In both of the missals I have on hand here, Jenn, Candlemas is included in part of the Christmas “Cycle.” Perhaps that's the confusion? The liturgical Christmas “Season” ends with the octave of the Epiphany (January 13th), but the Cycle doesn't end until long after that. We don't use the term cycle in the Church anymore, do we?

Here's how they break it down in my missal: the Christmas Cycle includes the seasons of (1) Advent, (2) Christmas, (3) the Epiphany, and (4) Sundays after Epiphany. In the same way, there is an Easter Cycle, which includes the seasons of Setuagesima, Lent, and Easter. My missal does make mention of the Purification as a "spiritual" end to Christmas.

I have read that the Vatican does not take their Christmas decorations from the square until February 2nd either, even now. I find that it makes sense, too--Candlemas is the end of the events we celebrate in Christ's life as a child.

You're right that it is difficult to find a link for this. I have it in my missals here, but I can't find something quick-and-easy online. I know that Fisheaters has quite a bit of information about it, though I hesitate to link there since not all on that site is sound teaching.

There's an e-book linked at EWTN written in the 1950's, I think, by Helen McLoughlin talking about this custom. (You're probably already familiar with that!) I'll keep looking...

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Posted: Jan 30 2008 at 5:16pm | IP Logged Quote MaryM

Carole N. wrote:
Our church still has the nativity up at the altar. The priest said this was the old custom to keep it up until February 2nd, the official end of the Christmas season.
Is it true that this is more ingrained into the European tradition even though the calendars have changed?

Carole N. wrote:
As far as Easter and Lent, it is early, but Jenn, I have an Easter birthday this year! I remember when I had my 5th birthday, my mother made it an Easter birthday ... but I believe it was the day before or after Easter. It does not happen early very often, but it does happen occassionally.

An Easter birthday this year! Enjoy! A few years ago my birthday was on Easter for the first time in my life - though it had hit around it many times - that was really fun. Carole, your 5th birthday would have had to have been before Easter unless you were 5 in 1818 . You can check this site for a listing of all the dates for Easter between 1875 and 1823 to see when your birthday fell that year. I really like the charts on this site because they show the frequency of Easter being on specific dates. And this site has Easter dates for the past 300 years and the upcoming 300 years.


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Posted: Jan 31 2008 at 2:49am | IP Logged Quote Kathryn UK

This year is also one of the fairly uncommon years when Easter does not fall during the Jewish Passover. I think this is due to the different cycles explained in the first link Tami posted above, which affect the date of lunar leap years.

Living in a Jewish-Catholic household this makes me very happy as I get to eat hot cross buns at Easter . As we don't have leavened foods in the house during Passover that is a rare treat. Also not having to juggle two family seder meals with the Easter Triduum is good.

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Posted: Jan 31 2008 at 3:07am | IP Logged Quote Carole N.

Okay, Mary, I may be older ... but I am not that old! I do remember checking a few years ago because my mum claimed I had an Easter birthday. I remember the party and all--white cake with green grass and a bunny on top. My birthday was actually one day after Easter.

Kathryn, do you have a seder meal on Holy Thursday? I remember there being some discussion about it last year. I think that I came away a bit disconcerted as I would not want to take a Jewish tradition and try to make it into something is should not be.

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