Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Ember Days
Ember Days occur next on December 16, 18, and 19. Ember Days happen four times a year at the start of each season. In Latin, Ember Days are known as the quattuor anni tempora (the “four seasons of the year”).
Traditionally observed by some Christian denominations, each set of Ember Days is three days, kept on a successive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. These three days are set apart for fasting, abstinence, and prayer. The first of these four times comes in winter, after the Feast of St. Lucia, December 13; the second set comes with the First Sunday in Lent; the third set comes after Whitsunday/Pentecost Sunday; the four and last set comes after the Feast of the Holy Cross. Their dates can be remembered by this old mnemonic:
“Sant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
Ut sit in angaria quarta sequens feria.”
“Holy Cross, Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost,
are when the quarter holidays follow.”
Folklore has it that the weather on each of the three days foretells the weather for three successive months. As with much folklore, this is grounded in some common sense since the beginning of the four seasons cue the changes in weather as well as a shift in how we keep harmony with the Earth and respect our stewardship of the Earth, our “garden of Eden.”