feasts

Occasions of commemoration and religious thanksgiving [[➝ thanksgiving sacrifice]]. Regular days were set aside for Hebrews when they could relax and enjoy themselves with music and dancing. There were thanksgivings to God for blessings and for material relief for the poor and oppressed. Apart from the weekly Sabbath, the release of slaves was prescribed for every seventh year (Exod. 21:2–6) and debts were to be remitted (Deut. 15:1–6), while in the year of jubilee property was to return to the original owner. There were also new moon festivals (Lev. 23:23–5).
But the three greatest festivals were first, the Passover and Unleavened Bread, kept for a whole week in the first month (Exod. 12) in commemoration of the Exodus [[➝ Exodus, the]] from Egypt which has always given hope and self-esteem to the Jewish people through all the vagaries of their history; this festival was established in the Temple under Josiah's reforms (622 BCE) and further changes were made by the priestly laws after the Exile [[➝ Exile, the]] (Num. 28:19–24). Secondly, the feast of Weeks took place at the beginning of wheat harvest (Deut. 16:9–12) seven weeks after Passover, at the end of a busy agricultural season; and thirdly, the feast of Booths, or Tabernacles, was celebrated from the 15th to the 22nd of the seventh month (late September), and was the Israelite Harvest Thanksgiving: the ritual requirement to dwell in booths reflected God's protection of the people during their wanderings in the wilderness (Lev. 23:39–43). At this feast Solomon's Temple was dedicated (1 Kgs. 8:2). After Josiah's reforms crowds of pilgrims visited the Temple. Such were the numbers that it was probably essential for many to erect temporary booths while waiting their turn. After the Exile this practical necessity was given its theological justification (Neh. 8:14).
Later feasts were ordered: the feast of Dedication was in thanksgiving for the rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabaeus [[➝ Maccabees, books of]] on the 25th of Chislev (December) in 164 BCE, and called Hanukkah (1 Macc. 4:59; John 10:22, but this was not mentioned in the Hebrew OT). The feast of Purim in Adar (late February), connected with the book of Esther, was perhaps borrowed from the celebrations of New Year by the Persians. It became a minor holiday for Jews.
The gospel of John seems to be written round ' visits to Jerusalem for the feasts, and Paul reports that the weekly celebration of the Lord's death was initiated as a commemoration of the Last Supper at Passover (1 Cor. 11:24). Christians in the early Church soon began to hold their regular worship on Sunday as a weekly feast in honour of the Resurrection [[➝ resurrection]], instead of meeting on the Sabbath.

Dictionary of the Bible.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Feasts —    or Festivals    Days set apart for the celebration of some great event connected with our Blessed Lord or His Saints, also called Holy Days. The rubric in the Communion Office requires that each Feast shall be announced to the congregation on… …   American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • feasts — Certain established festivals or holidays in the ecclesiastical calendar. These days were anciently used as the dates of legal instruments, and in England the quarter days, for paying rent, are four feast days. The terms of the courts, in England …   Black's law dictionary

  • feasts — Ecclesiastical festivals or holidays. Rent days and days for holding court were often fixed by reference to these feasts …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • feasts — fɪːst n. banquet, huge meal, exceptionally delicious meal; something unusually pleasurable; holiday, religious festival v. eat plentifully; host a banquet; participate in banquet …   English contemporary dictionary

  • feasts — safest …   Anagrams dictionary

  • feasts —    , see *wakes1 …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary —     Feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary     There are two such days:     ♦ Friday before Palm Sunday, major double;     ♦ third Sunday in… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Feasts, Ecclesiastical — • Feast Days, or Holy Days, are days which are celebrated in commemoration of the sacred mysteries and events recorded in the history of our redemption, in memory of the Virgin Mother of Christ, or of His apostles, martyrs, and saints, by special …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Feasts (Immovable) — Feasts and holidays of the church which always occur on the same date, as Christmas and Epiphany, Transfiguration etc …   Dictionary of church terms

  • Feasts observed by the Coptic Church — These come under three chief headings: Weekly feast, i.e. Sundays. The weekly commemoration of the Resurrection, which falls on the first day of every week. Sundays have been kept by Christians from Apostolic times as days of worship, and in 321… …   Dictionary of church terms

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