Blessings Abound: Exploring the Meaning and Traditions of Rogation Days
Rogation Days come right before Ascension Day and are a time set aside to pray for God’s blessing on the land and the sea and the bounty that comes from them. They start on the sixth Sunday of Easter which is known as “Rogation Sunday” since it is the Sunday that precedes the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday known as the “Rogation Days.”
Rogation Days originated in the 5th century in Vienne, France, and were created in response to a series of natural disasters that hit the area. The bishop of the area, Bishop Mamertus, called his people to days of fasting and prayer. They prayed that God would have mercy on the growth of their crops and spare them from famine. The word “rogation” comes from the Latin ‘rogare” and means “to ask.”
During Rogation days, Christians would gather at their church and participate in processions around the parish called “The Beating of the Bounds.” The congregation would gather together and walk the boundary of the parish, beating the border of the parish with willow branches. They prayed for the blessing of their land and if they lived by water for the blessing of the water. This tradition was also known in the northern parts of England as 'Gang-day' or 'gan week', after the old English name for walking. Once the parish boundaries were “beaten”, the community would gather for a celebration. They would drink “ganging beer” which was a beer brewed for the day and they would eat a mysterious food with no known recipe called “rammalation biscuits” which scholars believe is a form of the word “perambulate” which means to walk around (a parish, forest, etc.) in order to officially record its boundaries.
To this day, Christians celebrate Rogation Days as a way to give thanks to God for the gifts of creation and to pray for His blessing on the land, crops, and the people who work the land. If you live on the coast, it might be referred to as the “blessing of the fleet.”
Most of us have become disconnected from the food we eat and where it comes from.
Rogation Days are a beautiful time to be reminded that our lives and the food that we eat are in God’s hands. It is a time to be mindful of this and to pray for all of those who work so hard to bring us the food that we eat. It is a time to pray for bountiful harvests and for protection from natural disasters. It is also a time to offer thanks for creation, those who tend it, and the food that we eat.
Ways to celebrate:
Read the collect for the day -
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Gather bunches of sticks or reeds with your children and go around the edge of your yard, offering prayers of thanksgiving for your home and praying that God would bless your space. Pray for all of those who work the land or fish the seas for our food.
Support local farmers or fishermen in your area by buying food from them.
Traditionally, people ate foods from the first fruits of the harvest like new potatoes or beans. Make something with new potatoes or beans.