ember days

Ember day

noun
any of the days in the quarterly three-day period of prayer and fasting (the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the first Sunday in Lent, after Whitsunday, after Sept. 14, and after Dec. 13) observed in the Roman Catholic Church and other Western churches.

Origin:
before 1050; Middle English ymber day, Old English ymbrendæg, plural -dagas, equivalent to ymbryne recurrence (ymb(e) around + ryne a running) + dæg day

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Ember days
 
pl n
RC Church, Anglican Church any of four groups of three days (always Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) of prayer and fasting, the groups occurring after Pentecost, after the first Sunday of Lent, after the feast of St Lucy (Dec 13), and after the feast of the Holy Cross (Sept 14)
 
[Old English ymbrendǣg, from ymbren, perhaps from ymbryne a (recurring) period, from ymb around + ryne a course + dǣg day]

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Word Origin & History

ember days
O.E., 12 days of the year (divided into four seasonal periods, hence L. name quatuor tempora) set aside by the Church for fasting and prayers, from O.E. ymbren "recurring," corruption of ymbryne "a circuit," lit. "a running around," from ymb "round" (cognate with Gk. amphi, L. ambo) + ryne "course, running."
Perhaps influenced by a corruption of the L. name (cf. Ger. quatember).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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