Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring holy days

(March 23, 2013) Easter and Passover, both movable spring holidays, occur this week this year. The method for determining the dates is complex, based on lunisolar calendars. Even though it seems as if winter is still here, the holidays follow the vernal equinox, the start of spring, which was March 20.

The Christian Holy Week begins tomorrow, Palm Sunday, March 24, and ends on Holy Saturday, which falls on March 30, the day before Easter Sunday, March 31. Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and 36, traditionally 33.

The Easter celebration comes after Lent, a 40-day preparatory period of fasting, prayer and penance. The last week, Holy Week, begins with Palm Sunday remembering Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and continues with Holy Thursday honoring the Last Supper (his last Passover seder), Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death, and Easter Vigil Saturday, a commemoration of the day that Jesus lay in his tomb. Easter Sunday is a joyous celebration of church song and family feasting.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar.

Passover 2013 begins at sundown on Monday, March 25. That is the date, this year, which corresponds to the 15th of Nissan, the day according to the Bible, on which the first Passover occurred and on which all subsequent Passovers always begin. The holiday lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days everywhere else, reflecting a long-held custom honoring the fact that maintaining an accurate liturgical calendar far from Israel, where Jewish religious authority was centered in ancient times, was not so simple.  The longer observance is designed to make sure nobody fails to observe the holiday on the appropriate day.

It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Families celebrate at a ceremonial meal called a seder featuring symbolic foods (unleavened bread, bitter herbs, a mixture of apples and nuts, roasted egg, parsley or celery, roasted lamb shank and wine) and reading of the Haggadah which tells the Exodus story.

Keep abreast of important dates and more by reading Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail me at to find out about blogging, a free, simple communication tool.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Last winter blast?

(March 19, 2013) Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20, is the first day of spring this year, beginning with the vernal equinox at 7:02 a.m. (EDT) in the Northern Hemisphere.

The new season brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. You'd never know spring was so near by the winter blast of snow that came here yesterday and today.

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” Days and nights are about equal everywhere and the sun rises and sets due east and west.

At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the sun is zero, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the sun. (However, the tilt of Earth relative to its plane of orbit, called the ecliptic plane, is always about 23.5 degrees.)

Facts like these can be found in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online at Any local individual or organization representative who would like to join the growing list of Recorder bloggers is welcome to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail for details on this simple, free communication tool.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Name days

(March 17, 2013) Today is St. Patrick's Day, my name day. When I was just a young girl my mother told me I was named Patricia in memory of her firstborn, a son that died at birth on St. Patrick's Day. So every year, I remember my parents' sadness at his passing and happiness at my coming, the first of five children.

We're not Irish, but St. Patrick's Day was always a big day. Another special day coming this week is the Feast of St. Joseph, Tuesday, March 19, my father's birthday and name day. He would have been 100 this year. He always told us kids (and the grandkids too) we could have the day off from school in honor of his birthday. In our parish grade school we did get the day off courtesy of our pastor, also named Joseph, who shared my dad's sentiments. Those were the good old days!

I don't remember a lot from the past, but these are among my few special memories. On the other hand, my husband says he remembers his very first step. He does have a very good memory and regales anyone who will listen with stories from long ago.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Time to spring ahead

(March 9, 2013) Set your clocks ahead one hour before retiring tonight because Daylight Saving Time (DST) officially starts at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10. It will end the first Sunday in November.

Benjamin Franklin first thought up the idea of daylight saving in 1784. It wasn't instituted until World War I, when it went into effect to save energy used for lights. The Standard Time Act established time zones and daylight saving in 1918, but it was short-lived. Daylight saving was repealed the following year.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established DST throughout the United States and gave states the option to exempt themselves. Hawaii and most of Arizona do not follow DST. Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa also skip out on the clock-changing fun.

In 1974 and 1975, Congress extended daylight saving to save energy during the energy crisis. In 2007, DST got a few weeks longer, running from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

About 70 countries around the world observe daylight saving, but many countries near the equator do not.

Facts like these can be found in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online at Any local individual or organization representative who would like to join the growing list of Recorder bloggers is welcome to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail for details on this simple, free communication tool.