Why is the Ascension a public holiday in France? Origins of this religious celebration

Published by Caroline J., My B. · Photos by Rizhlaine F. · Published on 23 May 2022 at 10h30
The Ascension is part of the major religious celebrations for Christians. But do you really know where it comes from and do you know why this day is a public holiday in France? We tell you more about it.

Besides Easter, the Assumption, or even All Saints Day, there is the Ascension. Public holiday in France, we tell you more on the religious celebration usually taking place every year 40 days after Easter Sunday. Its date changed every year, but always takes place on a Thursday, enabling French people to enjoy the famous long Ascension weekend.

But what is hiding behind this celebration? The Ascension – not to be mistaken with the Assumption taking place on August 15 – comes from the Latin word “ascensio”, naming “rising”. For Christians, the Ascension refers to the Christ ascending into heaven, symbolizing eternal life. According to the Bible, dead and then resurrected the Christ has risen, forty days after Easter, and has disappeared in front of the Disciples. Initiated by the Pope Leon I the Great, this celebration is commemorated from the 4th century.

But since when is Holy Thursday a public holiday and a day off in France? It dates back to the Ancien Regime, when religious celebrations paced the life of the French.

Please note the Ascension is also celebrated in many European countries excluding Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Practical information

Dates and Opening Time
On 26 May 2022

    Refine your search
    Refine your search
    Refine your search
    Refine your search