April comes along as the fourth month of the year, but in ancient times was the second. The origin of the name for April is unknown, but some theories suggest that it comes from the Latin verb Aperire which means “to open”. The spring equinox having just passed, April would see the first signs of the coming summer as plants would begin to “open up” and flower. Another possible explanation would tie April to Aphrilis, a Latin rendering of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite.
Continuing in the theme of using the months from Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry book of hours, the scene above for the month of April shows a couple exchanging engagement rings in the presence of their parents. Women pick flowers and trees are now clothed in green. In the background is the Chateau de Dourdan. Built in the 13th century (1220’s), it became the property of the Duke of Berry in 1385.
April has several holidays, one of which is an old Roman holiday known as the Natalis urbis Romae (The birthday of Rome) was celebrated on the 21st of April. Rome was founded sometime during the 8th century B.C. between 728 and 758.
Another lesser known holiday is the holiday of the Lucky Fool, which lands on April the 7th. April starts with the fools day and seven is called the lucky number. If you haven’t heard of this holiday that’s probably because it’s only about 43 years old, and was first celebrated in 1969.
The Christian holiday of Easter (Pascha in eastern christianity) usually lands on a day during the month of April, though it can come as early as March 22, for western churches. The differences between the east and west for their dates of Easter come from methods of dating and the calendars used, the Gregorian or Julian. Regardless, the holiday celebrating the Resurrection is the central holiday in the church, ending the Lenten season and beginning Eastertide, which will last until Pentecost Sunday. For all christian people this is the central theme of their religion. In relation to this is a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien, who created a word called Euchatastrophe. The term means a sudden turn of events which occur in a story where the hero is spared certain doom. Tolkien claimed that the “The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in Joy.”
The week before Easter is known as Holy Week, and begins with Palm Sunday which will be on April 1st this year. Holy Thursday ends the Lenten season and the period from evening on Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday is known as the Paschal Triduum and remembers the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Feasts from the General Roman Calendar for the month of April are:
1. Palm Sunday, Sunday
5. Holy Thursday, Triduum
6. Good Friday, Triduum
7. Holy Saturday, Triduum
8. Easter Sunday, Solemnity
9. Easter Monday, Solemnity
10. Easter Tuesday, Solemnity
11. Easter Wednesday, Solemnity
12. Easter Thursday, Solemnity
13. Easter Friday, Solemnity
14. Easter Saturday, Solemnity
15. Divine Mercy Sunday, Solemnity
21. Anselm, Opt. Mem.
22. Third Sunday of Easter, Sunday
23. George; Adalbert, Opt. Mem.
24. St. Fidelis, Opt. Mem.
25. St. Mark, Feast
28. Peter Chanel (NZ, Feast); Louis Mary de Montfort; Gianna Molla, mother (Italy), Opt. Mem.
29. Fourth Sunday of Easter, Sunday
30. Pius V; Bl. Marie de l’Incarnacion (Can), Memorial