02 June 2011


Weather: As the weather is on Ascension, so may be the weather of autumn.

If it rains on Ascension, there will be a scarcity that year and sickness among cattle.

If it is fine on Ascension, it will be wet on Whit-Monday;
If it is wet on Ascension, it will be fine on Whit-Monday.


As described by the Catholic Encyclopedia, today we celebrate "the elevation of Christ into heaven by His own power, in the presence of His disciples, the fortieth day after His Resurrection".  "...the day is meant to celebrate the completion of the work of our salvation, the pledge of our glorification with Christ, and His entry into heaven with our human nature glorified."

If an egg which has been laid on Ascension Day is placed in the roof of a house, the building will be preserved from fire and other calamities.

If you fish from dawn to nightfall today, you will learn the hour for the best fishing, and will be a lucky angler for the next twelve months.

Bathing the eyes in rain water caught on Ascension Day is beneficial for sore eyes.

Traditionally, beans and grapes are blessed today.

In Germany, the day is called Himmelfahrstag.  It was customarily a "boys' day out" when the men would get together and go off into the countryside for an enjoyable day of merrymaking. "Hearty refreshments of food, beer, and wine are features of the excursions; and even in husbands return home at night a little the worse for wear, wives are not expected to complain.

[I digress for a moment.  Wives are mostly intelligent creatures; they don't complain when it is obvious that the object in their cross-hairs cannot hear or see them, much less comprehend that trouble awaits.  Much better to wait until the following morning, when we can be the Ministering Angels from Hell, fetching aspirin and water and turning pillows and removing blankets and putting blankets back on and every five minutes asking if they are okay and if there is anything we can get for them, no really, dear, it's no trouble, I'll be right back, are you sure there isn't anything else you'd like, maybe some breakfast, I'm sure you'll feel better once you've got some eggs and bacon inside you, oh you are looking a little green, dear...]

In Venice, the Doge in his state galley, the Bucentaur, with the Venetian nobility and others in an accompanying fleet of boats, would go with great solemnity to the Adriatic Sea.  Here he would cast into the water a gold ring of great value, saying "Desponsamus te, Mare, in signum veri perpetuique dominii" ("We espouse the, O Sea, in token of real and perpetual dominion over thee").  This custom is said to have started from a grant of Pope Alexander III, who gave the Venetians power over the Adriatic as a man has power over his wife.  While there is no longer a Doge (or a Bucentaur) [and we won't even touch the bit about power over the wife], the ceremony is still repeated in Venice on the first Sunday after Ascension.