(Jewish). The year of jubilee. Every fiftieth year, when land that had passed out of the possession of those to whom it originally belonged was restored to them; all who had been reduced to poverty, and were obliged to let themselves out for hire, were released from bondage; and all debts were cancelled. The word is from jobil (a ram's horn), so called because it was proclaimed with trumpets of rams' horns. (See Leviticus xxv. 11-34, 39-54; and xxvii. 16-24.)
Jubilee (in the Catholic Church). Every twenty-fifth year, for the purpose of granting indulgences. Boniface VIII. instituted it in 1300, and ordered it to be observed every hundred years. Clement VI. reduced the interval to fifty years, Urban IV. to thirty, and Sixtus IV. to twenty-five.
Protestant Jubilee, celebrated in Germany in 1617, the centenary of the Reformation. Shakespeare Jubilee, held at Stratford-on-Avon, September 6th, 1769.
Jubilee to commemorate the commencement of the fiftieth year of the reign of George III., October 25th, 1809.
Jubilee to celebrate the close of the Revolutionary War, August 1st, 1814. 1887. The Jubilee to commemorate the fiftieth year of the reign of Queen Victoria.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894