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 Moveable Feasts

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Moveable Feasts   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 01:28

And I'm not referring to ice-cream vans, but to those holy days that are not fixed to any particular day of the calender year. The term "moveable feast" crops up now and again in literature and history but nowadays the only moveable feasts seem to be those linked to Easter, such as Palm Sunday (7 days before Easter), Maunday Thursday (3 day before Easter), Pentecost (49 days after Easter). And Easter itself, its date of course being determined by a complex formula involving both solar and lunar cycles. A look at wiki does give a list of other moveable feast days but they all seem to be basically calculated in relation to Easter.

Are there, or were there in the past, any other moveable feasts or are they all tied into Easter? And if so, what determines their dates? And why have so many moveable dates anyway especially if they are all just calculated either forwards and backwards from Easter? It seems needlessly complicated especially considering how a lot of calender reform was prompted simply because people in different parts of Christendom were doing their calculations differently and so not everyone was celebrating the holy days on the same "correct" date. And what happens when a moveable feast lands on the same day as a fixed one? eg by my calculations it's possible, say, for Septuagesima to fall on the same day as Candlemas (2 Feb).
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 06:11

I don't think you can have a moveable Easter without the others being moveable. They are all part of the Easter happenings. You couldn't have Palm Sunday coming after Good Friday. I gather that this was the subject of great debate during the Synod of Whitby where it was finally decided to shift Easter around. (I stand to be corrected on that.) Once it's become moveable all the others have to be.

It's not exactly moveable but some celebrations are Mondayised here - Queen's Birthday weekend always is, and Labour Day, but others fall when they fall - Anzac Day and Waitangi Day. If the latter come on a weekend we are all deprived of a holiday - last year they were both on weekends so we only got 9 holidays instead of 11. (We do always get Boxing Day and January 2nd.)

I mentioned somewhere here, I think, the dilemma Jehovah Witnesses had when Samoa recently changed its international date line and they had to decide whether to stay with their Sabbath 7 days after the last one when the day would be wrong, or 6 days after to keep it on a Saturday (or Sunday - don't know which they have).
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 06:30

@Meles meles wrote:
And Easter itself, its date of course being determined by a complex formula involving both solar and lunar cycles. A look at wiki does give a list of other moveable feast days but they all seem to be basically calculated in relation to Easter.

And it gets even more confusing when the Eastern Christian calendar doesn't correspond with the Western Christian calendar, not only does the Easter week move but it moves differently in the two halves of Europe and only falls at the same time once every four years.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 08:09

@Meles meles wrote:


And what happens when a moveable feast lands on the same day as a fixed one?


You end up with a lot of disgruntled Norwegians. The European country with already the lowest number of bank holidays contains a lot of workers seriously miffed that "kristi himmelfartsdag" (christ to heaven flatulently day) falls on 17th May this year, which is the Norwegian national holiday anyway.

If christians get annoyed with how Easter hops about they should spare a thought for their muslim fellow-superstitionalists who can't depend on their starvation month Ramadan to at least pop up in the same season every year, let alone the same month. I always feel sorry for muslim children who have birthday parties in that month, but at least its temporal versatility means it hits all kids eventually.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 11:37

Quote :
I don't think you can have a moveable Easter without the others being moveable
I see what you mean Caro. The moveable feasts all seem to relate to Easter (Christ's death) while the fixed ones, like Epiphany or Holy Innocents relate to Christmas (Christ's birth), or were tacked in later, like All Saints and Assumption (of Mary). I understand the historic basis for linking Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover and thus to the Judaic lunar calender, but since the year of Christ's death is unknown it surely makes little more "real" sense than the abitrary fixing of Christ's birth on the 25th December, especially when that date was already drifting because of the short-comings of the Julian calender.

Quote :
You end up with a lot of disgruntled Norwegians
Presumably there were also quite a few miffed Saints who missed out when the Gregorian calender replaced the Julian.

And I'd forgotten about Ramadan. It probably didn't matter much to the original adherents living in the Middle East but it doesn't seem sensible today to have a period of dawn to dusk fasting that moves through the calender year. In winter (at least in more northerly latitudes) the fast will be quite short, but in summer fast days will be very long (what do Moslems do if they live above the Arctic Circle?). And it doesn't allow for changing labour demands through the year. A day long fast during harvest must be a lot harder to stomach (pardon the pun) than say in winter when there is little hard labour to be done in the fields (again, at least in Europe).
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 16:31

I think that, if the exigencies of life demand it, you can "borrow" days out of Ramadan and pay them back later.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Thu 26 Jan 2012, 16:38

IIRC, Islam is quite flexible about fasting obligations if the adherent is pregnant, sick or travelling and they can provide food for the poor instead or, as you said Gil, postpone until later..
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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 12:05

@nordmann wrote:



You end up with a lot of disgruntled Norwegians. The European country with already the lowest number of bank holidays contains a lot of workers seriously miffed that "kristi himmelfartsdag" (christ to heaven flatulently day) falls on 17th May this year, which is the Norwegian national holiday anyway.


Not only Norwegians, qute a few other living in areas - countries for want of a better word - where the Lutheran churches have dominated whatever "holy days" are needed, as Saint's days are not celebrated, indeed have been abolished.

And I do appreciate your translation of "Kristi Himmelfartsdag" - not the first nor probably the last of such translations to take place.
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 18:42

Fasting in Islam. Starvation month? You must be joking. Though neither food nor liquid must pass the lips between dawn and sunset - and the day is longer for Shia's because they wait for the sun to be totally set, Sunnis can crack open the dates and swig water as soon at it hits the horizon, it is a test of self control not denial.

The fast then is broken with simple goodies - dates fruit and water - Iftar. And if at an Iftar party, there ia also a wide array of rich stuff that has been all day in the making. Not long after that a huge dinner is on the cards. Then its off to the shops until midnight for something like Christmas shopping - or later if the end of the month is close. Then a few hours sleep and a huge breakfast with fat rich goodies before dawn - and after prayers a bit more sleep. Shop opening is very late and work/ school hours are shortened to half a day to allow for a long afternoon ziz to awake for the sunset fast break..

Many in the east complain about putting on weight during Ramadan because of the change in routine - and rich meals at the wrong time. As ever, what you may read is often a tad different from reality. Children are not forced to 'keep fasts' I think they call it, but are greatly feted when they do.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 19:33

Yes travellers, pregnant women,the aged, the sick are all excused the fast, but... at University I had a friend whose father was a British surgeon working in a hospital in Dubai. That year Ramadan fell in high summer - the days were long and it was scorching hot. The A&E department was innundated with people who were literally dropping like flies from low blood sugar and dehydration etc. These were not of course office workers in air-conditioned buildings, or the pampered wives of professionals, no, they were nearly all poor immigrant labourers who felt it their duty (to God? to their employer? to their family?) to continue working on the city's numerous construction projects, under a blazing sun with no water! And then in A&E it was apparently a battle to try and get them to accept rehydration treatment. Even in the wards some devout muslims refused to take their medicines in the day during Ramadan, probably believing that by so doing they were helping, rather than hindering, their eventual recovery.

Such I guess is the overwhelming power of faith...
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 21:18

The overwhelming power of faith led to three fatalities in Oslo last year when two passengers in taxis and one taxi driver died in head-on collisions, all within three weeks. Of the taxi drivers, all Pakistani, through autopsy and blood tests on the two who survived, it was revealed that all three had overdosed on excipient chemicals, present in the allah-approved supplement for working men during Ramadan. Personally, I have deduced from this that god is a rather evil entity. One of those passengers who died was a good mate of mine.

The concoction they had ingested consisted of:

Magnesium Stearate
Stearic Acid
Sodium Benzoate
Potassium Sorbate
Silicon Dioxide
Titanium Dioxide
Lactose
Cellulose
Gelatin
Sodium Glycolate
Talc
Sucrose
Calcium Stearate
Palmitate
Hydroxy Propyl Methylcellulose
Ethylcellulose
Glaze
Shellac
Starch

The combined effect caused involuntary trypanosomiatic fits. They literally lapsed into a coma behind the wheel.

Praise allah
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sun 29 Jan 2012, 06:34

@Priscilla wrote:
Fasting in Islam. Starvation month? You must be joking. Though neither food nor liquid must pass the lips between dawn and sunset - and the day is longer for Shia's because they wait for the sun to be totally set, Sunnis can crack open the dates and swig water as soon at it hits the horizon, it is a test of self control not denial.

Yes, it is only western christianity who see fasting as an act of self denial, can't think why or where that attitude came from as it differs from others. Eastern Orthodoxy (for example) not only see fasting as test of self control but also as an act of purification of the body, an attempt to shed the body and mind of passions in order to regain innocence in the love of God. Fasting is not seen as a hardship, rather as a privilege and joy.

If one believes in all that mumbo-jumbo that is......
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sun 29 Jan 2012, 06:59

There is a real danger that, if fasting is perceived as something to be desired by a deity (on whatever superstitious grounds), it can then be taken to excess by people whose same superstition allows them to equate the extent of their starvation with the extent of their devotion.

There is no medical evidence supporting hunger strike as beneficial to the body, whereas there is ample evidence to the contrary. It is a form of self-abuse, and one which is ratified by so-called religious "authorities", not just in muslim doctrine but several others too. The parallel with self-flagellation, playing with poisonous snakes, mortification etc etc is patently obvious, It is not enough to excuse it on the grounds that many people of whom it is expected have concocted "get-out" clauses. I would hope they did - it at least shows some little common sense intruding into what otherwise is completely delusional behaviour. However a complete application of common sense would in fact, one hopes, lead people simply to say "no thanks" and marvel at the presumption and idiocy of those who had expected them to starve for their god in the first place,

But enough of moveable fasts. What about moveable feasts?

Christmas seems to have been something of a peripatetic occasion before Roman insistence that it stay put, During the reign of Diocletian there was registered a complaint from their neighbours to the prefect in Alexandria that christians were making a nuisance of themselves celebrating their leader's birth during Portumnalia, the festival taken seriously by Alexandrian merchants as its observance hopefully ensured security of their warehouses for the next year, This feast was not moveable as it coincided with the resumption of high trade after the summer and was therefore always on the 17th day before the September kalends (16th August), A century later the same Alexandrian merchant class, now christian themselves, opted for November 18th as a handy time for the festival, whereas further up the African coast the DePascha Computus shows that other christians had settled on March 28th.
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sun 29 Jan 2012, 09:46

It must have been very difficult for the Romans with their calendar moving all over the place - how did they keep track of it all. I believe that they had spring festivals taking place in October before JC changed the calendar.
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PostSubject: Re: Moveable Feasts   Sun 29 Jan 2012, 15:05

Regarding Ramadan: Having spoken to an anglo/indian/muslim friend in England last night, I’m not sure that Ramadan was, originally at least, a moveable feast, or at least not quite so freely moveable. The calendar(s) in use in Arabia at the time of Mohammed were probably very similar to (if not actually the same) as the Jewish or Coptic calendars. Both these calendars use intercalary days, extra “leap days”, slipped in throughout the year, to keep the lunar (ie monthly) cycles in synchronization with the passage of the sun, and the seasons. If adopted into such a calendar, Ramadan would not have drifted by more than a month (back and forth) with respect to the seasons (in the same way as Easter moves). The name, Ramadan, itself denotes a period of heat/drought/dearth and so may relate to the old Arabian month of Natiq which fell (in a quasi-fixed solar calendar) each year in the hot season. When the Islamic (pure lunar) calendar was adopted the intercalary days were dropped and so henceforth the calendar was doomed to drift out of synchronization with the solar year. But in this new Islamic calendar the word Ramadan seems to have been adopted as it denoted a period heat/drought – possibly therefore it was seen as representing the original climate for the month of fasting. And that probably derives from the original Jewish calendar - and hence the practice of Ramadan may well derive from the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur (which like the Christian Easter, wanders, but not throughout the year. – it can range from 14 Sept to 14 Nov).
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