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returned to precisely the same point in the ecliptic. But after four years, when one day is added at the end of February, to make up for the deficiency of a common year, all this is very nearly compensated, and the sun returns to the same point in the ecliptic on the same day of the month and time of the day. This, however, will not happen on the same day of the week. But if we take such a number of years as will exactly contain four (the number after which the sun returns to the same point on the same day of the month), and seven (the number after which the same day of the week returns), we shall have a period or cycle after which the sun comes to the same point of the ecliptic on the same day of the month and of the week. This number is 28, and is called the solar cycle. The 1st year of the Christian era was the 10th of the solar cycle. Accordingly, if we add 9 to the current year (1830), and divide the sum (1939) by 28, we shall have, for a remainder, 19, which will be the solar cycle for the year 1830; that for 1831 will be 20, and so on.
The lunar cycle, in like manner, is the period after which the moon changes, fulls, quarters, &c. at the same date, that is, the same month, day of the month, and time of the day. There are 12 revolutions of the moon in a year, and 11 days over; after two years the excess will be 22 days, &c. In 19 years these excesses will amount to a certain number of months, without a remainder, so that after the lapse of such a period the moon returns to the same place, and all her phases occur at the same time as before. This is not strictly exact. The new and full moon happen in fact about an hour earlier, after the lapse of each cycle of 19 years, so that the error would amount to an entire day in about 311 years. This cycle is sometimes called the Golden Number, from its importance in regulating festivals depending on the moon. It is also called the Metonic cycle, from a Greek astronomer, Meton, who invented it 400 years
before the Christian era. The 1st year of our era was the 2d of the lunar cycle. Accordingly, if we add 1 to the current year, and divide by 19, the remainder will be the year of the cycle. We thus find that 1830 is the 7th of the lunar cycle.
Is the excess above mentioned, or number of days over an entire month. Accordingly, if we multiply the number of the lunar cycle, less one, by 11, and divide by 30, the remainder will be the epact. Thus six times 11 are 66, from which if we deduct two intercalary months, of 30 days, the remainder will be 6, which is the epact for 1830.
Is a period of 15 years, returning like the other cycles. It was used formerly to regulate the payment of certain taxes. It is combined with the other cycles in what is called the Julian Period, a cycle of 7980 years, invented by Julius Scaliger, and formed by multiplying together the three cycles above described.
Dominical Letter, Or Sunday letter, is that one of the first seven letters of the alphabet which falls on Sunday, the first day in the year being denoted by A, the second by B, and so on from week to week. In a common year of 365 days there are 52 weeks, and one day over; so that the year comes in and goes out on the same day of the week. The year 1829, for example, began on Thursday, and after 52 weeks were completed, there was one day left. It therefore ended on Thursday, and the present year, 1830, . came in on Friday. Accordingly, calling Thursday, the first day of the year 1829, A, Friday would be B, Saturday C, and Sunday D. Thus D was the dominical letter for the year 1829; and as the year 1830 begins on Friday, calling this A, and Saturday B, and Sunday C, C is the dominical letter for 1830. By proceeding in a similar manner for 1831, we should find that B would be the dominical letter for this year. Thus we should fall back one letter every year, in common years of 365 days, and in leap year, when there are 52 weeks and 2 days over, we should fall back two letters, and there will be two dominical letters for the year, one till the end of February, and the preceding one for the rest of the year. If leap year begins on Sunday, it will end on Monday, and the next will begin on Tuesday, which being called A, according to the rule above given, Sunday will answer to F, and not G, as in a common year. Thus the order of the dominical letters is interrupted, and the series cannot return to its first state till after a number of years, in which 4 and 7 are contained without a fraction, that is, 28, after which the same days of any month return to the same days of the week.
The Dominical letters were introduced into the Calendar by the primitive Christians; and the seven first letters of the alphabet were set opposite the days of the year, to dénote the days of the week, till about half a century ago, when the initial letters of the days of the week were used in their stead, except the Sunday letter, which is still sometimes retained.
III. HOLYDAYS OF THE CHURCH.
THE CHRISTIAN YEAR commences with the season of ADVENT, which embraces the four Sundays that immediately precede Christmas. These Sundays are intended to be observed, as a celebration of the general event of Christ's coming, or advent, and as a preparation for the great festival of
his birth. “ It is the peculiar computation of the Church,” says Wheatley, 6 to begin her year, and to renew the annual course of her service, at this time of Advent, therein differing from all other accounts of time whatso
The reason of which is, because she does not number her days, or measure her seasons, so much by the motion of the sun, as by the course of our Saviour; beginning and counting on her year with him, who being the true Sun of Righteousness, began now to rise upon the world, and, as the Day-star on high, to enlighten them that sat in spiritual darkness." The institution of this season of Advent is of very ancient date ; there being proof that it was observed before the year 450.
Christmas Day follows the four Sundays in Advent, and is always commemorated on the 25th of December. It is not pretended that this is the exact date of our Saviour's birth, which it has been found impossible precisely to ascertain. It has been, however, from very early times, the established date of this festival in the Western Church. The derivation of Christmas is from the Latin Christi Missa, or Christ's Mass; meaning the Mass or service which is performed this day in honor of Christ.
The Sunday after Christmas requires no explanation.
The Circumcision of Christ is a feast observed on the eighth day after his birth-day, or Christmas; that being the day on which, according to the Jewish law and custom, he was circumcised. This festival was originally called the Octave of Christmas. It falls on the first day of January
The EPIPHANY signifies the appearance or manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, and is celebrated on the twelfth day after his birth, and of course on the sixth of January. It is also called Twelfth Day. The particular event commemorated on this day, is the visit of the eastern Magi to the child Jesus. After the Epiphany there come four, five, or six Sundays, according to the day in each year on which the movable feast of Easter
SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY is the ninth Sunday before Easter, and the third before Lent, and is followed by Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays. The reason of their being designated by these Latin numerals, is, that the first Sunday in Lent, being forty days from Easter, was called Quadragesima, or the Fortieth, and the three Sundays preceding it were called from the nearest round numbers, Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima, or Fiftieth, Sixtieth, and Seventieth, reckoning backward from Easter.
Ash WEDNESDAY is the first day in Lent, and was anciently called Caput Jejunii, the Head of the Fast; or Dies Cinerum, the Day of Ashes. The first name was given to it, because it begins the great Christian fast, and the second, because it was an ancient custom for penitents to appear at church on that day, clothed in sackcloth and ashes. Lent begins on Wednesday, because, Sunday never being a fast day, the Sundays in the six weeks of Lent are deducted, leaving thirty-six days of fasting, to which are added the four days preceding the first Sunday, to complete the number of forty.
The season of LENT, or the great season of church fasting, comprises, as was said before, six Sundays. It commemorates the fast of our Saviour in the wilderness. The word Lent is said to be Saxon, signifying merely the Spring, at the opening of which season of the year Lent occurs. The fourth Sunday in Lent is sometimes called Midlent Sunday; the fifth, Passion Sunday; and the sixth, or the Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday, because it was on that day that our Saviour made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, while the multitude strewed palm branches in his way.
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter, and is so called on account of the blessed effects of the sufferings and death of Christ on the cross, which are on this day commemorated.
Easter Sunday is the great church festival, and celebrates the resurrection of Christ from the dead. On this day depend all the movable feasts of the church, that is, all those feasts which are not fixed on a certain day of the month. Easter Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, which happens after the 21st of March. The reason of this is, that Christ rose from the dead on the third day after the 14th of the Jewish first month, or Nisan, on which day the Paschal lamb was eaten, and which corresponds to the day of the full moon immediately after the 21st of our month of March. The subject of the famous dispute, which raged between the Eastern and Western Churches, was, whether the feast of Easter should be kept on the third day, after the 14th of Nisan, whatever might be the day of the week, as was maintained by the former Church, or whether it should be kept on the first day of the week, which should come after the 14th of Nisau, as was alleged by the latter. On either computation, the time at which Easter must occur, varies with the year ; but the limits within which it must fall are the 22d of March and the 25th of April, inclusive, making a period of thirty-five days. The derivation of the word Easter is uncertain. Some say that it comes from the Saxon oster, signifying to rise, and others, that it is named after a Sason goddess, called Easter, who was particularly honored at this season
of the year.
After Easter are numbered six Sundays.
Ascension Day is the fortieth day from Easter, and is otherwise called Holy Thursday. It commemorates our Saviour's ascension into Heaven.
WHITSUNDAY is the seventh Sunday after Easter, and corresponds with the Jewish Pentecost, which was so called from its being fifty days after the Passover. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles of our Lord, and it is this event which is commemorated
on Whitsunday, the Christian Pentecost. The derivation of the term Whitsunday is likewise uncertain. According to some, the name is borrowed from the circumstance, that, in the ancient church those who were baptized since Easter, appeared in white vestments on this day. Others would derive it from the French huit, this Sunday being the eighth from Easter, counting Easter the first. However this may be, it is merely an English appellation, the original term, Pentecost, being retained for this day throughout the Roman Church.
Trinity Sunday is the next Sunday to Whitsunday, of which it was originally but the Octave.
The remaining Sundays in the year, till the return of Advent, are numbered after Trinity Sunday by the English and American Episcopal churches, but after Whitsunday by the Roman Church, according to ancient usage. There are from 23 to 25 Sundays after Trinity, and from 24 to 26 after Whitsunday or Pentecost.
Besides the foregoing principal holydays of the church, there are others which are observed with more or less attention.
St. ANDREW's Day is kept on the 30th of November ; St. Thomas's on the 21st of December; St. Stephen's on the 26th of December; St. John the Evangelist's on the 27th of December.
The 28th of December is called Holy INNOCENTS', and is kept in honor of the children who were massacred by order of Herod.
The CONVERSION OF St. Paul is commemorated on the 25th of January
The 2d of February is the PURIFICATION OF THE Virgin Mary, or CANDLEMAS. It commemorates the presentation of Jesus in the temple, by his mother, and is called Candlemas, because the ancient Christians were accustomed to burn abundance of candles in their churches on this day, in allusion to the words of Simeon, who declared Christ to be a light to lighten the Gentiles.
VALENTINE's Day is the 14th of February.
The 24th of February is consecrated to the remembrance of St. MatTHIAS.
On the 25th of March is celebrated the ANNUNCIATION OF THE VIRGIN Mary. It is likewise called LADY DAY.
St. Mark's Day is on the 25th of April; St. Philip's and St. James's on the 1st of May; St. John the Baptist's on the 24th of June; St. PETER's on the 29th of June ; St. James's the Greater on the 25th of July; ST. BARTHOLOMEW's on the 24th of August; St. MATTHEW's on the 21st of September.
The 29th of September is devoted to Sr. MICHAEL and ALL ANGELS, and is called MICHAELMAS.