Home   Calendar   Holidays   the United States   Ascension Day
Flag for USA

Ascension Day in the United States

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.

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.

©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 occurs ten days before Pentecost and it always falls 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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015ThuMay 14Ascension DayChristian
2016ThuMay 5Ascension DayChristian
2017ThuMay 25Ascension DayChristian
2018ThuMay 10Ascension DayChristian
2019ThuMay 30Ascension DayChristian
2020ThuMay 21Ascension DayChristian
2021ThuMay 13Ascension DayChristian
2022ThuMay 26Ascension DayChristian
2023ThuMay 18Ascension DayChristian
2024ThuMay 9Ascension DayChristian
2025ThuMay 29Ascension DayChristian

We diligently research and continuously update our holiday dates and information. If you find a mistake, please let us know.

You might also like

White Cane Safety Day

White Cane Safety Day is a United States observance annually held on October 15 to celebrate blind and visually impaired people's achievements and the importance of the white cane. more

Multicultural Business Couple to Collage in Advertising webpage

Boss's Day

Boss’s Day is observed in many workplaces in the United States on October 16, or the nearest working day, each year. more

Alaska Day

Alaska Day is an official holiday in Alaska, the United States, on October 18 each year. It commemorates the formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States on October 18, 1867. more

Rabbi holding lulav

Last Day of Sukkot

Many Jewish communities in countries such as the United States observe the last day of Sukkot, which marks the end of the Sukkot festival. more