We commemorate Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven (as per Christian belief) by celebrating Ascension Day, which occurs on the Thursday, which is 40 (or 39) days after Easter. This year, it will take place on May 26. Known by multiple names — The Feast of the Ascension, The Ascension of Jesus, Ascension Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord — this is a Christian holiday that doubles as a public holiday in many countries like Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, and more.

One of the earliest Christian festivals, Ascension Day marks the end of the Easter season. This event is celebrated primarily by Catholics and Anglican Christians; most Protestant churches do not follow this tradition anymore.

The date, too, differs in different geographic locations. Western Churches prefer to use the Gregorian calendar for calculating this date, while many Eastern Orthodox Churches calculate this date according to the Julian calendar. As a result, their celebrations occur at a later date than the Western event.

As per the New Testament in the Bible, after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday, he was resurrected from the dead in three days, on the day we know as Easter Sunday. For 40 days after this, he stayed with his Apostles (the primary disciples of Christ) to instruct them on how to carry out his teachings.

As the Bible says, at the end of day 40, Jesus Christ and his disciples went to Mount Olivet (or the Mount of Olives), near Jerusalem. After asking them to stay, Christ then ascended to heaven to take his seat at the right hand of God, under the gaze of his disciples. To Christians, the ascension signifies that Christ completed his work on Earth and allowed him to prepare a place for his followers in heaven.

Initially a part of Easter celebrations, this day was later separated from Easter, along with Pentecost. Celebration of Pentecost ends the cycle of Easter-related events in the Christian calendar.

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