Ascension Day in France 2023

Until Ascension Day in France are 162 days, ie 5 months and 11 days.

In 2023 Ascension Day in France is on May 18th (thursday).

Celebration of the Ascension Day is a day off from work throughout France

Monarchy, French Revolution and Napoleon Concordat


During the French Revolution, many religious holidays were banned, including Ascension Day. Attempts were made to replace the celebrated holidays with secular ones. These were completely new ceremonies, created artificially, and their celebration was imposed from above. Believers and religious people were persecuted in an organized fashion. When the revolutionist-established Republic collapsed and the monarchy returned, Catholicism again became the state religion in France. The concordat signed in 1801 by Napoleon Bonaparte with Pope Pius VII restores four Christian holidays in the calendar: Christmas, Ascension of Christ, Assumption of Mary (August 15) and All Saints.

Ascension in the Holy Scriptures


The ascension of Jesus Christ is described in the gospel of St. Luke (Luke 24:50-53) and the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1: 6-11). The Ascension is described at the beginning of the book of Acts in the following words: "When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven." (Luke 24:50-52). Jesus talks to his disciples and he is taken up to be with the Father. It is worth noticing, that the word "ascension" means the activity of climbing; being taken up.

Ascension in the traditions of the catholic church


The date of Ascension Day was set to be 40 days after Easter. The number of days was set because in the Book of Acts it is written that after the resurrection Jesus "(...) appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God." (Act 1:3) The setting of the time frame of the celebrations happened on the initiative of Pope Leo the Great in the 4th century. On the day of Ascension, the colour of the vestments of the priest is white, the colour of purity and immortality. Ascension Day comes 10 days before Pentecost and 39 days after Easter. Special services are held to celebrate the occasion in churches and cathedrals all over France.

Ascension Day: school and work


Despite the separation of the church from the state in 1905, Ascension Day is a statutory holiday. The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is also a day off from study. They always fall off on Thursday. Knowing that Thursday is a close relative of Friday, parents of children often create a four-day weekend, which is usually called "le Pont." The word means "bridge" in French. The full name of these short holidays is "Pont de L'Ascension" (Bridge of Ascension). Lots of the workers also take the day off on Fridays, making a little" bridge "for themselves." Sometimes people try to make much longer "bridges" out of two long weekends and days off, which may be combined. By these I mean the long weekend, connected with the celebrations of Ascension, and the weekend connected with Pentecost. Pentecost is celebrated on the 50th day (the seventh Sunday) after Easter Sunday.

Ascension Day and the matters of daily life


As we know, lots of people enjoy the long weekend during and after Ascension Day. Yet, as always in those types of situations, some people work. Some businesses stay open just for a few hours during the time of the celebrations. In the big cities, bakeries and grocery stores may stay open. As always, places such as hospitals stay open. Museums are open. If the Frenchmen need to go somewhere without the usage of the car, he needs to check the schedule carefully, because the buses and trains depart at different times. People take trips and journeys. The popular destination for the ones, that are relatively rich, is French Polinesia, which is famous for its beaches. If the Frenchmen do not travel during this holiday, they may have some cultural and sporting events in store for them, prepared by the locals.

Other years

Day of the weekDateName of holiday
ThursdayMay 13th, 2021Ascension Day in France 2021
ThursdayMay 26th, 2022Ascension Day in France 2022
ThursdayMay 9th, 2024Ascension Day in France 2024
ThursdayMay 29th, 2025Ascension Day in France 2025
ThursdayMay 14th, 2026Ascension Day in France 2026
ThursdayMay 6th, 2027Ascension Day in France 2027
ThursdayMay 25th, 2028Ascension Day in France 2028

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