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Ascension Day in the United Kingdom

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

Is Ascension Day a Public Holiday?

Ascension Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Jesus statue
Ascension Day marks Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven, according to Christian belief.
Ascension Day marks Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven, according to Christian belief.
©iStockphoto.com/Sebastien Cote

What Do People Do?

Some Christians in the United Kingdom attend church services on Ascension Day to celebrate this event. Prayers are made and people sing hymns at these services. Communion, also known as Eucharist, may also be offered to the congregation. Ascension Day marks the end of Rogationtide, which is a time when people pray for blessings to occur.

According to some sources, some schools used to have a day off on Ascension Day in the United Kingdom. However, students who attend Sunday school or take part in religious studies (such as classes) may participate in lessons or activities that explain the meaning of Ascension Day.

Public Life

Ascension Day is neither a bank or public holiday in the United Kingdom. Offices, retail stores, educational institutions and public transit systems stick with 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 usually celebrated on a Thursday. However, some churches may choose to 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.

About Ascension Day in other countries

Read more about Ascension Day.

Ascension Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuMay 13Ascension DayChristian 
2011ThuJun 2Ascension DayChristian 
2012ThuMay 17Ascension DayChristian 
2013ThuMay 9Ascension DayChristian 
2014ThuMay 29Ascension DayChristian 
2015ThuMay 14Ascension DayChristian 
2016ThuMay 5Ascension DayChristian 
2017ThuMay 25Ascension DayChristian 
2018ThuMay 10Ascension DayChristian 
2019ThuMay 30Ascension DayChristian 
2020ThuMay 21Ascension DayChristian 

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