Ascension Day is a public holiday in Finland to commemorate the Ascension of Christ to heaven 40 days after his Resurrection.
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It is somewhat unusual that Finland keeps this day on their holiday calendar since most Finns are Lutheran, seeing that Ascension Day is mostly celebrated in the Christian world only by Roman Catholics and Anglicans. However, Finland is a major exception.
There aren’t really any public events for Ascension in Finland, and it is not a “major holiday,” but you can attend special services in some Evangelical Lutheran and other churches.
Counting inclusively, Ascension always comes on the 40th day after Easter. Counting the usual way, it comes only 39 days later. Its date varies with the date of Easter, but it lands somewhere from early May to early June and always on a Thursday. Pentecost, which comes 50 days after Easter and 10 days after Ascension, is also a public holiday in Finland. Pentecost is the last holiday of the “Eastertide” season on the church calendar.
Ascension Day has been celebrated at least since A.D. 385, but some claim its origins as a holiday as far back as A.D. 68. In some churches, the Easter candle is put out on Ascension Day, and some may even hold processions. Otherwise, you can expect a simple sermon on the accounts of the Ascension in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts. The texts are: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, and Acts 1:6-11.
The accounts speak of Jesus’ appearances to His disciples and of His giving of the Great Commission as He ascended into clouds of glory. Since Jesus said He will return in the same way that He left, Ascension Day is also a time for messages on the Second Coming of Christ.
In Finland, many shops and government buildings will be closed on Ascension Thursday, and public transport will work on its “Sunday schedule.” However, shops at Central Railway and Kamppi bus station, both in Helsinki, will be open.