Today Is Holy Thursday, the Day of Ascension Skip to content

Today Is Holy Thursday, the Day of Ascension

The Day of Ascension is a Christian holiday celebrated 40 days after Easter to commemorate Jesus’ bodily ascension to heaven in the presence of his apostles.


An Icelandic church. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Some Icelanders go to church; others relax at home or take part in outdoor recreation. Children are given the day off from school and most workplaces are closed.

According to, the Day of Ascension is one of the oldest Christian holidays and marks the beginning of Pentecost or Whitsun. It has been celebrated since 400 AD.

The Bible says Jesus overcame death with his resurrection at Easter and spent 40 days with his apostles before ascending to heaven, not to abandon the Earth, but so that he might be present everywhere.

It is an old church tradition to light a special candle at Easter and put it out after mass on the Day of Ascension to symbolize Christ leaving the Earth.

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