feast

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feast,

commemorative banquet symbolizing communal unity. Generally associated with primitive rituals and later with religious practices, feasts may also commemorate such events as births, marriages, harvests, and deaths. The principal Christian feasts of the Western Church are EasterEaster
[A.S. Eastre, name of a spring goddess], chief Christian feast, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. In the West, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the full moon next after the vernal equinox (see calendar); thus, it falls
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, PentecostPentecost
[Gr.,=fiftieth], important Jewish and Christian feast. The Jewish feast of Pentecost, in Hebrew Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, one of the three pilgrimage festivals, arose as the celebration of the closing of the spring grain harvest, which began formally in Passover 50
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, EpiphanyEpiphany
[Gr.,=showing], a prime Christian feast, celebrated Jan. 6, called also Twelfth Day or Little Christmas. Its eve is Twelfth Night. It commemorates three events—the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1), the visit of the Wise Men to Bethlehem (Mat.
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, and ChristmasChristmas
[Christ's Mass], in the Christian calendar, feast of the nativity of Jesus, celebrated in Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches on Dec. 25. In liturgical importance it ranks after Easter, Pentecost, and Epiphany (Jan. 6).
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. The greater number of feasts (excluding Sunday, the weekly feast) fall on the same day of the month each year (e.g., Christmas) and constitute the temporal cycle. Some of the more important liturgical observances are movable (e.g., Easter) and are part of the sanctoral system. Among the Jews the chief feasts are Rosh ha-ShanahRosh ha-Shanah
[Heb.,=head of the year], the Jewish New Year, also known as the Feast of the Trumpets. It is observed on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, occurring usually in September.
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, the Feast of TabernaclesTabernacles, Feast of,
one of the oldest and most joyous of Jewish holidays, called in the Bible the Feast of Ingathering and today often called by its Hebrew name, Sukkoth [Heb.,=booth].
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, PurimPurim
[Heb.,=lots], Jewish festival celebrated on the 14th of Adar, the twelfth month in the Jewish calendar (Feb.–March). During leap years it is celebrated in Adar II. According to the book of Esther (Esther 3.7; 9.
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, PassoverPassover,
in Judaism, one of the most important and elaborate of religious festivals. Its celebration begins on the evening of the 14th of Nisan (first month of the religious calendar, corresponding to March–April) and lasts seven days in Israel, eight days in the Diaspora
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, HanukkahHanukkah
, in Judaism, the Festival of Lights, the Feast of Consecration, or the Feast of the Maccabees; also transliterated Chanukah. According to tradition, it was instituted by Judas Maccabeus and his brothers in 165 B.C.
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, and ShavuotShavuot
[Heb.,=weeks], Jewish feast celebrated on the 6th of the month of Sivan (usually some time in May) in Israel and on the sixth and seventh days in the Diaspora. Originally an agricultural festival celebrating the end of the winter grain harvest (which began at Passover),
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. In the Muslim world the Islamic feasts vary according to country and locale, although there are several feast days of universal importance. The most widely celebrated are the little and great feasts following the fast of RamadanRamadan
, in Islam, the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which all Muslims must fast during the daylight hours. Indulgence of any sort is forbidden during the fast. There are only a few who are exempt, e.g., soldiers, the sick, and the young.
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 and the feast commemorating the birth of Muhammad. In Buddhist countries festive celebrations are usually associated with the birthday of Buddha, his attainment of Nirvana, or enlightenment, and his death. In India there are many national and regional Hindu feasts. One of the most important is the feast of Holi. See also vigilvigil
[Lat.,=watch], in Christian calendars, eve of a feast, a day of penitential preparation. In ancient times worshipers gathered for vespers before a great feast and then waited outside the church until dawn for the liturgy (Mass).
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 and fastingfasting,
partial or temporary abstinence from food, a widely used form of asceticism. Among the stricter Jews the principal fast is the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur; in Islam the faithful fast all the daytime hours of the month of Ramadan. Fasting is general in Christianity.
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.

Maidyarem (Maidhyairya; Mid-Year or Winter Feast)

December-January, May, June; 16th-20th days of Dae, the 10th Zoroastrian month
Maidyarem is the fifth of the six great seasonal feasts, known as gahambars, of the Zoroastrian religion. It was traditionally celebrated at a point in the agricultural year when, due to extreme cold, all work came to a halt. The name comes from the word airya, which means "rest."
The six gahambars were typically joyous festivals that included such activities as special rituals and prayers, and the sharing of food. Although they lasted five days, the fifth day was the only one spent in actual celebration; the other four were for preparation and anticipation of the day's feasting, when families or neighborhoods would get together. These seasonal feasts were designed to give those who worked from dawn to dusk on farms a respite from their labors. Today, with so many Zoroastrians living in urban areas, the importance of the gahambars has diminished.
The Zoroastrian calendar has 12 months of 30 days each, plus five extra days at the end of the year. Because of discrepancies in the calendars used by widely separated Zoroastrian communities around the world, there are now three different calendars in use, and Maidyarem can fall either in December-January, May, or June according to the Gregorian calendar.
There are only about 100,000 followers of Zoroastrianism today, and most of them live in northwestern India or Iran. Smaller communities exist in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Canada, the U.S., England, and Australia.
SOURCES:
RelHolCal-2004, p. 69

Feast

See also Epicureanism.
Barmecide feast
a sham banquet, with empty plates, given to a beggar by wealthy Bagdad nobleman. [Arab. Lit.: Arabian Nights, “The Barmecide’s Feast”]
Belshazzar’s Feast
lavish banquet, with vessels stolen from Jerusalem temple. [O.T.: Daniel, 5]
Camacho’s wedding
lavish feast prepared in vain, as Camacho’s fiancée runs off with her love just before the ceremony. [Span. Lit.: Cervantes Don Quixote]
Hanukkah
(Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication) Jewish festival lasting eight days; abundance of food is characteristic. [Judaism: NCE, 1190]
Lucullan feast
a lavish banquet; after Lucullus, roman general and gourmet. [Rom. Hist.: Espy, 236]
Prospero’s banquet
shown to the hungry castaways, then disappears. [Br. Drama: Shakespeare The Tempest]
Thanksgiving
national holiday with luxurious dinner as chief ritual. [Am. Pop. Culture: Misc.]
Thyestean banquet
at which Atreus served his brother Thyestes’ sons to him as main course. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1081]
Trimalchio’s Feast
lavishly huge banquet given by wealthy vulgarian. [Rom. Lit.: Satyricon]
Zeus
disguised as Amphitryon, gives a banquet at the latter’s house. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 32]