Ascension Day is observed on the fortieth day of Easter – 39 days after Easter Sunday – to commemorate Jesus Christ’s ascension to heaven as recorded in the Bible. It is a public holiday across Austria and it always falls on a Thursday.
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There are many church-focused events in Austria on Ascension Day. Observant Christians frequently attend mass in the morning. And a large proportion of Austrians will enjoy an elaborate meal with family.
However, this holiday falls in Spring and the day therefore also provides a great opportunity for Austrians to make the most of the warmer weather by spending time outdoors. Some people even take the Friday after Ascension Day off from work to create a four-day weekend in order to travel.
Ascension Plays, which were popular in the middle ages as a means of helping people visualise the ascension of Jesus bodily into heaven, still take place occasionally in Austria – though these religious dramas are less and less common as old traditions fade.