Saint Sylvesters Day

Saint Sylvester’s Day, also known as Silvester (also spelled Sylvester, Szilveszter, or Sylwester) or the Feast of Saint Sylvester, is celebrated annually on December 31. It is the day of the feast of Pope Sylvester I, a Roman Christian who served as Pope of the Western Church from 314 until his death in 335 and oversaw both the First Council of Nicaea and Roman Emperor Constantine I’s conversion to Christianity. Among the Western Christian Churches, the feast day is held on the anniversary of Saint Sylvester’s death, 31 December, a date that, since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, has coincided with New Year’s Eve. For these Christian denominations, Saint Sylvester’s Day liturgically marks the seventh day of Christmastide. Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Sylvester’s feast on a different day that the Western Churches, 2 January. Saint Sylvester’s Day celebrations are marked by church attendance at Midnight Mass or a Watchnight service, as well as fireworks, partying, and feasting.

Pope Sylvester witnessed the divisions between Christians caused by the rise of Arianism, a doctrine concerning the nature of Christ, so he sent two representatives to the Council of Nicea. Convened by Emperor Constantine, the Council debated and rejected Arianism.  Under the reign of Pope Sylvester I, several of the magnificent Christian churches were also built, including Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Santa Croce Church, and Saint Peter’s Basilica, among others. During the papacy of Saint Sylvester, the Nicene Creed, which is recited by communicants of the vast majority of the world’s Christian denominations, was formulated. Saint Sylvester is said to have healed, in the name of Christ, the emperor Constantine the Great of leprosy. After dying, Saint Sylvester was buried on December 31 in the Catacomb of Priscilla.

Saint Sylvester’s  day was established on 31 December 1227 by Pope Gregory IX for symbolic reasons for, Just as December 31 ushers in a new year, so, too, did the conversion of the emperor Constantine usher in a new epoch in the history of Christianity.

Many European Countries celebrate St. Sylvester’s Day Including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Slovenia. In Kraków, Poland they celebrate Saint Sylvester’s Day with a fireworks display, while in Vienna the capital of Austria, people walk pigs on leashes for their Saint Sylvester’s Day celebration in hope to have good luck for the coming year. Many Christian households in Germany mark the Saint Sylvester’s Day by practicing the custom of Bleigiessen using Silvesterblei (Silvester lead), in which Silvesterblei is melted over a flame in an old spoon and dropped into a bowl of cold water; one’s fortune for the coming year is determined by the shape of the lead. If the lead forms a ball (der Ball), luck will roll one’s way, while the shape of an anchor (der Anker) means help in need, and a star (der Sterne) signifies happiness

Christians of Belgium have a tradition that a maiden who does not finish her work by the time of sunset on Saint Silvester’s Day will not get married during the coming year. Elsewhere In Brazil they celebrate St.Sylvester’s day with exploding fireworks, and the Saint Silvester Road Race also takes place, this is Brazil’s most oldest and prestigious running event, and is dedicated to Pope Sylvester. In Israel, there is a belief among some that conflates the Soviet tradition of Novy God with this feast day, contributing to the belief that it is a celebration of an anti-Semitic pope who convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem and promoted anti-Semitic legislation. A possible source of this belief is the fact that the feast day was known by many immigrants from Europe who came to the country around the time it became a Jewish state. In Italy lentils and slices of sausage are eaten On Saint Sylvester’s Day, because they look like coins and symbolize good fortune and the richness of life for the coming year. In Switzerland during the morning of Saint Sylvester’s Day, the children of a Christian family compete with one another to see who can wake up the earliest; the child who arises the latest is playfully jeered. Men have, for centuries, masqueraded as Silvesterklaus on Saint Sylvester’s Day.


Events Holidays and happenings occurring on 31 December

Banished Words List Day
Make Up Your Mind Day
National Champagne Day

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