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Bible Dictionaries

The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia

Ember Days

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The Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after the First Sunday in Lent; Whitsun Day; the 14th of September and the 13th day of December, and are regarded as the Fasts of the four seasons. The time of their observance was definitely fixed by the Council of Placentia, A.D. 1095. Their origin is ascribed to Apostolic tradition. The derivation of the name Ember is uncertain. Some trace it to the Saxon word ymbren, meaning a "circuit," because they are periodically observed. Others derive it from the Anglo-Saxon word aemyrian, meaning "ashes," because these days are appointed to be kept as fasts, and ashes, as a sign of humiliation and mourning, were constantly associated with fasting. The Ember Days are appointed to be observed at the four seasons named because the Sundays following are the set times for Ordination to the Sacred Ministry. For this reason one of the two prayers, entitled, "For those who are to be admitted into Holy Orders," is to be read daily throughout the week.

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Ember Days'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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