One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of a number of days reserved for fasting and prayer in the Western Christian Church. Ember days traditionally comprise the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following St. Lucy's Day (December 13), the first Sunday in Lent, Pentecost (Whitsun), and Holy Cross Day (September 14), though other days are observed locally.
- ‘Today is an Ember Day, and on Ember Days, we pray, among other things, that God would raise up priests to serve at the altar.’
- ‘Since the revision of the Roman calendar in 1969, Ember Days are to be observed at the discretion of the National Conference of Bishops.’
- ‘Meat can be eaten on Fridays, Ember days have been abolished.’
Old English ymbren, perhaps an alteration of ymbryne ‘period’, from ymb ‘about’ + ryne ‘course’, perhaps influenced in part by ecclesiastical Latin quatuor tempora ‘four periods’ (on which the equivalent German Quatember is based).
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