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Notes on Certain Days

Sabbath Day.--The word sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning "to cease from labour" and the Sabbath Day, as we know from the Bible, was the seventh day of the week and a day of rest. It is owing to this custom of the Jews that our Sunday is a holiday. The word "holiday" means, of course, "holy day", and we owe all our holidays in the first place to the custom of keeping certain Saint's Days as days of rest from work, in order that festivities might be held in honour of the saint of the day.

Black Monday.--This name is given nowadays to any Monday on which a great disaster happens, but it originated in 1360, when a terrible storm did great damage in England on the Easter Monday of that year. Shakespeare refers to this Black Monday in his play The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 5.

Shrove Tuesday.--The day before Ash Wednesday, and so named because on that day people were expected to "shrive", that is, confess their sins to the priest. After the confession was over, the people made merry, and the pancakes connected with Shrove Tuesday are all that is left to us of the old feasting and merry-making.

Ash Wednesday.--The time from this day to Easter Day (forty days) is called "Lent" (from Old-Eiiglish lencten: Spring, the time when the days grow longer), and it was once a general custom among Christians to fast during this period. Ash Wednesday is so called from a service of the Roman Catholic Church which is held on that day, and in the course of which the priests place ashes of burnt palm on the foreheads of penitents.

Maundy Thursday.--The Thursday before Good Friday. On this day was held the ceremony of washing the feet of poor people in memory of Christ's washing of His disciples' feet. This ceremony was called "Maundy", so the day became known as Maundy Thursday. Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, the first word of the service sung during the ceremony. Gifts were also made to the poor at the same time, and this custom still continues. Every Maundy Thursday money known as "Maundy money" is given to a certain number of poor people, the distribution of the money taking place in Westminster Abbey. This money includes the old fourpenny-piece and twopenny and one penny pieces in silver.

Lady Day.--The 25th of March, and the day dedicated by the Church to the Virgin Mary (Our Lady). The first of the four Quarter Days.

Martinmas.--The 11th of November, the day held by Roman Catholics as sacred to St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, a town in France. He served in the army for a number of years before entering the Church, and many interesting tales are told of him. He was born in A.D. 316, and died in 400. Martinmas is the fourth of the Scotch Quarter Days, the others being Candlemas, Whitsunday, and Lammas.

Michaelmas Day.--The 29th of September, the day on which the Mass or Feast of St. Michael is held. St. Michael is described in the Book of Daniel as being one of the chief of the angels. Michaelmas is the third Quarter Day, the second and fourth being Midsummer and Christmas.

Primrose Day.--The 19th of April, the day on which Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, died. He was one of the Prime Ministers of Queen Victoria's reign. The primrose was reputed to be his favourite flower, and his statue in Parliament Square is decorated with primroses each year on the anniversary of his death.

St. Swithin's Day.--St. Swithin lived in the reign of King Egbert. He was the Bishop of Winchester, and died in A.D. 852. He was buried outside the church at Winchester, and in 971, when the new cathedral had been built, the monks decided to place his body inside the cathedral. They were prevented from doing so, however, by rain, which fell without ceasing for forty days. This gave rise to the common belief that if it rains on St. Swithin's Day (15th July) it will rain for forty days.

St. Valentine's Day.--St. Valentine was a Christian bishop who was beheaded in Rome about the year A.D. 270. His martyrdom is commemorated on the 14th. of February. The custom of sending "valentines" on that day has really no connection with St. Valentine, but is probably an ancient Roman custom arising out of the worship of Juno.

Greek, Roman, and Old-English Gods





Jupiter (King).



Juno (Queen).






Mars (War).



Mercury (Messenger).



Apollo (Sun).

Frey, Balder.


Diana (Moon).



Minerva (Wisdom).



Vulcan (Fire).



Neptune (Sea).



Bacchus (Wine).








Names of the Days

The French Revolutionary Calendar

Each month consisted of thirty days, and five extra days, dedicated to Virtue, Genius, Labour, Opinion, and Rewards, were put in as holidays to make up three hundred and sixty-five days. Every fourth year an extra day was added, known as Revolution Day. The Calendar dated from 22nd September, 1792, and was in force till the year 1806.