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Ember Days | Dates and Meaning

What are Ember Days and when are the dates for this year?

Among many Christians, it is a custom to observe Ember Days, a cluster of four sets of three days in the calendar year, roughly around the start of the four seasons. They are set aside by the Church as a way to mark the passage of seasons through prayer and fasting.

What Are Ember Days?

The name is derived from the Latin quattuor tempora, meaning “Four Times” or “Four Seasons.” The specific themes for each Ember Week of the year are as follows:

  • Spring: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Ash Wednesday, to give thanks for the rebirth of nature and for the gift of light (usually flowers are offered at this time).
  • Summer: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Pentecost, to give thanks for the wheat crop.
  • Fall: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of the Holy Cross (September 14),  to give thanks for the grape harvest.
  • Winter: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13), during the third week of Advent, to give thanks for the olive crop.

The significance of the days of the week is that Wednesday was the day Christ was betrayed, Friday was the day He was crucified, and Saturday was the day He was entombed.

Ember Days infographic.

When Are Ember Days In 2021?

  • Lenten /Spring Ember Days – February 24, 26, 27
  • Summer Ember Days – May 26, 28, 29
  • Fall Ember Days: September 15, 17, and 18
  • Advent Ember Days: December 15, 17, and 18

Ember Days Folklore

According to folklore, the weather conditions of each of the three days of an Embertide foretells the weather conditions for the following three months.

The Farmers’ Almanac has long carried the Ember Days in each of our editions. 

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Correction: this year, the autumn Ember Days are not right after the Feast of the Holy Cross (Sept 14), but the following week. In 1960, the rules for establishing the dates for Ember Days were changed, and connected the fall Ember Days to follow the Third Sunday of September, which will be September 22, 24, and 25, 2021.

Christopher Roberts

Also, my Grandfather Gordon Denver Luther, of the Luther’s of direct lineage to Martin Luther the Protestant reformist, taught me many ways to live by and do by the sign. And Ember day is one of the most important of days when it comes to clearing fence rows or felling a tree that you don’t want to sprout back up and cure out before the next season. The way it was passed down to me is this, if you ring a tree on Ember day the stump will not sprout out and will season where it stands and you can the come and fell it at a time you find most convenient. Same goes for brush and brambles growing along the fence row, if you clear out the brush on a Ember day the brush will die out and not grow back. New seeds will have to be deposited by birds or what have you and take root for brush and brambles to grow in the fence row again.
This absolutely works, I tried it the very first Ember days I had the opportunity to test the truth of it and low and behold once again the old ways proved the best of ways and worked better than any brush killer or other modern method available. Not only is it friendly to the environment but it is also easy on the pocketbook, just requires a little sweat of the brow and diligence to get the job done in those 3 days every season.
I hope this benifits someone else and that whomever heeds this remebers the name Gordon Luther and gives thanks to the Lord for blessing us with those with wisdom far greater than mine si that in this way my Grandfather will live forever in memories and reflection.

Susan Higgins

Thank you, Christopher, for sharing this story!

Pat lombardi

Thank you for sharing you knowledge and experience. Your grandfather lives on.

Rebecca Taylor-Moss

Fantastic, thanks for passing along!


Thanks for such a wonderful easy to understand explanation.

Alma Arseneault

Wow this is so interesting, never heard of Ember days before. Thank you so much for sharing.

Susan Higgins

Glad you enjoyed it, Alma!

Mark Fisher

Happy Embertide December 16! The 351st day of the year. Now I wonder why the three dates skip a day. As well, 16 + 18 + 19 = 1*53.

Susan Higgins

Hi Mark, we explain in the story, “The significance of the days of the week is that Wednesday was the day Christ was betrayed, Friday was the day He was crucified, and Saturday was the day He was entombed.”

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