Archive for the ‘Religious Holidays’ Category

This week is host to many holy days and holidays. Below is a list of them and their dates. Also we have included articles Faith in Focus, the Missourian and christianity.about.com written about the holy days and holidays.

Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover: March 30 – April 5, 2010

Maundy Thursday: April 1

Good Friday: April 2, 2010

Easter Sunday : April 4, 2010

Eastern Orthodox Easter: April 4, 2010

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I have recently discovered VBS.tv. It’s an interesting site that specializes in documentary style videos. Many of their pieces have been featured on cnn.com. The most recent one that have caught my attention is the “Mecca Diaries.”

These videos center around the hajja pilgrimage Muslims must make once in their lifetime to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The first person account of the trip really intrigues me. The blunt honesty during portions of the videos is really striking to me. I hope you all enjoy these.

Mecca Diaries: Part 1 (Click on image to view video)

Mecca Diaries: Part 2 (Click on image to view video)

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The United Church of Christ in Columbia celebrated Mardi Gras with a traditional German meal on Tuesday.

The ColumbiaMissourian reported Tuesday that it was the 26th annual celebration of Fastnacht, and included traditional German foods and music from Der Deutschmeister Musickers. More photos are online.

Fastnacht celebration in Columbia

Helga Carter and her granddaughter Olivia Carter, 5, enjoy their time at the Fastnacht on Tuesday.

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Roman Catholic Origins:

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are three different martyrs named Valentine. Two were in the clergy in Italy during the second half of the third century. The third lived in Africa. However, not much is known about him.

There are two prominent legends about St. Valentine:

  • During the reign of Emperor Claudius II it was decided that single men made better soldiers than those who where married and had families. According to History.com, Claudius II “outlawed marriage for young men.” St. Valentine continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret for young couples. When Claudius II heard of what St. Valentine was doing, he ordered him put to death.
  • Another legend is that while St. Valentine was in prison, he befriended, or fell in love with, his jailor’s blind daughter. Before he was executed, St. Valentine wrote a letter to her, which he signed “from your Valentine.” When she received the letter, and the first Valentine ever, it is said she was able to see.


The pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia was celebrated by ancient Romans on Feb. 14 and 15.

One tradition of this festival was that all the young women would write their name on a slip of paper and place it in an urn. Young men would then choose a name from the urn. The couples would be paired together for the entire festival. Sometimes these parings lasted for up to a year or resulted in marriage.

Some suspect that the feast day of St. Valentine was placed by the Roman Catholic Church on Feb. 14 in order to “Christianize” Lupercalia.

Modern Traditions:

St. Valentine’s Day became associated with love during the 14th century. According to infoplease.com, medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly placed Chaucer as the first one to connect St. Valentine’s Day with love. He wrote the poem “The Parliament of the Fowls” to celebrate a royal engagement. In it he wrote,

“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, /When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

The correlation between love and finding a mate has continued until present. The tradition of exchanging Valentine’s has also continued and expanded to include gifts as well.



Catholic Encyclopedia


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Many Columbia congregations will observe Lent, a 40-day period of prepartion for Easter that starts with Ash Wednesday.

For a list of specific Ash Wednesday services in the community, go to our Faith Directory which  provides links to church Web sites where information can be found on service times.

The Interfaith Council in Columbia holds a Lenten Breakfast each year hosted by a different congregation each week. The meal is served from 7 to 8 a.m. each Wednesday during Lent. The first will be at First Christian Church, 101 N. Tenth St. Participants are asked to bring a donation of food that will be given to the Russell Chapel Food Pantry. The schedule for the remaining weeks:

  • Feb. 24 at Calvary Episcopal Church, 123 S. Ninth St.
  • March 3 at Columbia United Church of Christ, 3201 I-70 Drive Northwest
  • March 10 at First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway
  • March 17 at First Presbyterian Church, 16 Hitt St.
  • March 24 at Second Missionary Baptist Church, 407 E. Broadway
  • March 31 at Missouri United Methodist Church, 209 S. Ninth St.

There also will be a Good Friday service, at noon on April 2, at Russell Chapel CME Church, 108 E. Ash St.

And for those seeking a new approach to this annual observance, Olivet Christian Church is hosting a film discussion on issues of race and class. The film showing and discussions will be held at the church on Sunday nights during Lent.

Tell us what you’ll be doing to observe Lent this year. Share ideas or make suggestions by adding your comment.

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Olivet Christian Church will be holding film discussions about race and class on the Sundays leading up to Easter.  The sessions will be at 5 p.m. starting Feb. 21 and ending on March 28.

Films that will be discussed include: “Grand Canyon,” “Frozen River,” The Station Agent,”The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Due to the content of the films, this series is only for adults.

The series will be held at Olivet Christian Church and is free to the public.

For more information please go to the Columbia Missourian or Olivet’s Web site.

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Each language has its own sound, and each sound makes perfect sense to a native speaker. However, issues often arise when trying to translate one language to another. Often mistranslations abound and texts are translated, re-translated and re-translated but still errors can be found. One issue may be that some sounds from languages cannot be accurately translated into English. One of these languages is Hebrew.
There are two more days left in Hanukkah (or is it Hanuka?) and some of you may have noticed that there is more than one way to spell it.

Classical Hebrew translates closer to Hanukkah than modern Hebrew, which uses Chanukah. It’s all because the Hebrew letters that spell out the holiday are pronounced differently in classical Hebrew than in modern Hebrew. The “Ch” was adapted at the beginning of Chanukah because the first letter, in modern Hebrew, sounds like “ch” in loch.

Robert Siegel from NPR spoke to Rabbi Daniel Zemel in Dec. of 2005 about this very subject. In the interview they discus the phonetic ways people try to use to translate Hebrew into English.

In the end, no matter how you spell it, it is still the festival of lights. So happy Hanukkah or Chanukah or Khanukkah to you all.

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A little late for tonight’s performance, but the Columbia Handbell Ensemble is performing its 20th annual Winter Concerts this weekend at First Baptist Church. One concert was tonight at 7 p.m., another Sunday at 2 p.m., with a third tomorrow night in Hermann. For details and more on the hand bell choir, read our story on today’s ColumbiaMissourian.com.

Hand bells make up a marvelous musical medium that is popular among churches. In the story, CHE director Ed Rollins describes the sound of hand bells as attempting to replicate, with five or six musicians, the sound of a single instrument’s melody. He explained it to me like this: “Let’s say you’re a violin player, and the violin gets the melody. So one person’s responsible for the melody. In a hand bell group, that melody is going to be split between five or six people. What you’re trying to do is make it sound … like one person is playing the music.”

That music can be quite impressive sometimes. Rollins said one of their selections for this year’s Winter Concerts was originally performed on the organ: “One is an organ transcription, and man, if you get that done well on bells, it’s so good.”

For a preview of CHE’s sound, check out this 2008 slide show of Christmas offerings at local churches, which features a snippet from last year’s CHE Winter Concerts (and which I admit I really just wanted an excuse to repost). Not to be missed if you go: The group typically does at least one sing-along number, and the effect is pretty moving.

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The New York Times posted a story on September 27th that caught my attention. It was called “Nannies Get a Holiday. Rich Families Get a Suite.” The story summary mentioned Ramadan, and since it has been in the news a lot recently, I wanted to see what angle they would choose.

The story talks about how rich families in Indonesia deal with the temporary loss of their maids, nannies and chauffeurs every year at the end of Ramadan. Many of these Muslim employees take an annual pilgrimage to their hometowns to celebrate Id al-Fitr, which is a holiday at the end of Ramadan. The story said many families either hire temporary help at high rates or check into hotels for the week.

Somehow this struck me as a little ridiculous. I’m not sure why, but it annoyed me a little bit. Some of the people interviewed seemed so inconvenienced that their employees were taking time to celebrate their religion and visit their families. To be fair, not all of them viewed it this way. It just struck me as selfish, though, that they couldn’t just allow their employees to take a religious holiday without complaining. I’m sure it is hard to suddenly be without extra help when you’ve grown accustomed to it, but it just seems a little too spoiled. One woman in the story did say how it was a good chance to discipline her children a little more so they don’t get too spoiled. That seems like a reasonable attitude to have.

I know there is a huge cultural difference between my world and the one I am reading about, so I guess that’s why I’m having a hard time seeing their point of view. I commend these people for allowing their employees to celebrate their religion and their holidays, but it just seems like they could do it with a little less complaining.

This story led me to wonder about other faiths that have to take time off for religious holidays. I bet it would difficult for both parties involved: the people leaving and the people being left. It’s never something I’ve had to experience being from a Baptist background. I would have liked to have heard from some of the Muslim employees in this story to see their opinions on their vacation and its effects on their employers.

Does anyone have any insight to the situation? Is it hard to leave your routine for a religious holiday? Or is it harder to be left behind, having to fill in the gaps?

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Members of Congregation Beth Shalom attended a service Wednesday, July 29, to remember the importance of a day called Tisha’ah b’Av. Numerous calamities that have occurred in Jewish history seem to have converged on this one day in the Hebrew calendar. The day, which means “The Ninth of Av” is remembered first as the day that both the First and Second temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, in 586 BCE and 70 CE, and when the Jews were exiled.

Rabbi Feintuch said that many Jewish leaders blame the Jewish people for the demise of the temple, citing the sins of the people as the cause. “Nowadays there are regimes in the Middle East that, in order to keep themselves in power, would point out to an enemy outside, that the Jews are so downtrodden and we suffer because of others. Not so in Jewish tradition.” In other words, some Jews have historically blamed forces within their own group for their downfall, unlike belligerent groups to which Feintuch referred.

He said the Talmud points to much evidence that the Jews’ corrupt behavior allowed for the Babylonian and Roman takeovers.  Specifically, the First Temple’s destruction is connected with the three vices of bloodshed, sexual turpitude and adultery. The second’s fall is connected with several elements, including the Jews hatred among each other and their division into factions, the disobedience of the Sabbath, or lack of youth education in the Torah.

“This is my heritage, I’m not here to try to suggest other views,” Feintuch said. “The Talmud suggests these rabbis who ruled Jerusalem made egregious historical mistakes because they chose not to seek some kind of reconciliation with Rome.”

Feintuch said that the Bible and the Talmud, the 2 most important pieces of Jewish literature, actually corroborate the idea despite our own sins, we look to blame our ills on outside forces.

“Our economy’s so depressed and our society’s so primitive, that this is something that’s happening in the Middle East for instance,” Feintuch said. “To explain their own mistakes and errors, such as women’s rights, they say ‘It’s not us – it’s because of the enemy outside.’ That’s not what the Jewish people chose to do.”

Please read the Columbia Missourian’s recent piece on Tisha b’Av for further information and context.

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