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The Seasons of the Year

刊登日期: 2015.05.16
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

 

 What are the Seasons of the year? Confidently we say, spring, summer, autumn, winter. That is correct … only if we were asked about the climate. As Christians we also have the liturgical seasons of the year. Other religions also have their seasons. Through them, each practices their faith with a pattern and rhythm. 

In this article I would like to mention a few oddities and misconceptions. 

B.C. and A.D. 

Let’s begin with the year itself. For most of the world, our year is numbered and designated with B.C. and A.D. Many correctly identify B.C. as Before Christ. However, many then think A.D. must means After Death. If it were true, there would be a difference of 33 years unaccounted for. 

A.D. – Anno Domini – Year of the Lord’s – Birth. It was in Latin. When this term was used in the 6th century it was thought most appropriate to base everything to Jesus including the calendar. At the time, the corresponding term was not B.C. It was A.C., Ante-Christum – Before Christ! 

Our own Chinese calendar uses both the universally recognized dating as well as the time of the overthrow of Qing Dynasty. So we are in the year of R.O.C. 104(民國104 年). The Japanese still use the year the current emperor ascended to the throne as the dating of the calendar, just like the Qing Dynasty and those before it. Sometimes, the emperor might give a new name to a year and start the counting all over again. So when reading historical material, it could get very confusing. (We should also include the lunar calendar in historical dating.) 

Similarly, when we read the Bible, we should be aware of these customs. For example, the Jewish calendar year for 2015 is year 5776 (since the creation of the world). At the same time, we would read in Isaiah 6:1, “In the year king Uzziah died…” We have to go back into history to figure out that that was around 790 B.C. 

Pentecost 

What is Pentecost? 

Answer. When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. 

That would be a correctly phrased answer but incorrect in fact. You see. The word Pentecost has a Jewish meaning that has nothing to do with the descent of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the name of the yearly Jewish spring wheat harvest festival celebrated fifty days after Passover. And on the year Jesus died, at the time of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. Let’s look at it another way. What is December 25th? The birthday of Jesus. That is true. But December 25 does not “mean” the birthday of Jesus. He was born on that day. 

Lent and Easter 

A couple of years ago I wrote about Lent being an English word meaning “Lengthening of the day time” to signal the beginning of spring. The Latin for the season is “quadragesima”, the season of forty days, “quaresma” in Spanish and “ 四旬” in Chinese. 

The original word for Easter is “Pasch” from the Hebrew word for Passover. Jesus is the new Pascal Lamb. So we have “Pascua” in Spanish. So on Easter Sunday, I greeted people with “Feliz Pascua!” instead of “Feliz Navida!” (for Christmas). However, in England, being Anglo-Saxon (German influenced), the word Easter came from“Ostern”, from the word “Osten”, meaning east, as the Sun/ Son rises in the east. This is kind of like Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit, Heiliger Geist (German) vs Sancte Spiritus (Latin) or Church – Kirche (German). 

 

Word origin is such fun and confusing. Let’s blame this all on the British. 

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