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Ascension Day in United States

Quick Facts

Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter and commemorates the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.

Local names

NameLanguage
Ascension DayEnglish
Ascensión de JesúsSpanish
חג העלייהHebrew
عيد الصعودArabic
예수의 승천Korean
Christi HimmelfahrtGerman

Ascension Day 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ascension Day 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015
List of dates for other years

Ascension Day is observed in the United States on the 40th day of Easter. It commemorates Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven, according to the New Testament of the Bible.

Jesus statue

Ascension Day marks Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven, according to Christian belief.

©iStockphoto.com/Sebastien Cote

What do people do?

Ascension Day is officially celebrated on a Thursday on the 40th day of Easter, or 39 days after Easter Sunday. Some churches in the United States join forces to celebrate a combined Day of Prayer and Ascension Day service, which may include a time for reflection. A few churches also organize a "church crawl", where people travel from one church to another and experience the different prayer events. 

Other churches may feature combined cathedral choirs that offer a special solemn Eucharist written especially for Ascension Day. A social time usually follows the service.  Some Lutheran churches hold a special ceremony where the Paschal candle is extinguished and removed after the reading of the gospel on Ascension Day.

Public life

Ascension Day is not a federal public holiday in the United States. Government offices, organizations, educational institutions and public transit systems run to their usual schedules.

Background

Ascension Day is one of the earliest Christian festivals dating back to the year 68 CE. According to the New Testament in the Bible, Jesus Christ met several times with his disciples during the 40 days after his resurrection 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 they watched as he ascended to heaven.

Ascension Day marks the end of the Easter season and occurs ten days before Pentecost. Depending upon the phases of the moon in a particular year, Ascension Day is celebrated on a Thursday. However, some churches, particularly in the United States, celebrate it on the following Sunday.

Many Eastern Orthodox churches calculate the date of Pascha (Easter) according to the Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar used by many western churches, so their Ascension Day usually occurs after the western observance.

Symbols

Ascension Day celebrations include processions symbolizing Christ’s entry into heaven and, in some countries, chasing a “devil” through the streets and dunking it in a pond or burning it in effigy – symbolic of the Messiah’s triumph over the devil when he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

The liturgical color in many churches is white on Ascension Day. Symbols include the ascending Christ, birds flying homeward, open gates, a lion conquering a dragon, Elijah's fiery chariot and a broken chain.

About Ascension Day in other countries

Read more about Ascension Day.

Ascension Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
ThuMay 241990Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 91991Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 281992Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 201993Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 121994Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 251995Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 161996Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 81997Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 211998Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 131999Ascension DayChristian 
ThuJun 12000Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 242001Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 92002Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 292003Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 202004Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 52005Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 252006Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 172007Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 12008Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 212009Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 132010Ascension DayChristian 
ThuJun 22011Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 172012Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 92013Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 292014Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 142015Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 52016Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 252017Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 102018Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 302019Ascension DayChristian 
ThuMay 212020Ascension DayChristian 

Other holidays in May 2014 in United States

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