The Calendar of the Church Year
The Church Year consists of two cycles of feasts and holy days: one is dependent upon the movable date of Easter; the other, upon the fixed date of Christmas Day, December 25.
The sequence of all Sundays of the Church Year depends on Easter Day, which also determines the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and the feast of the Ascension on a Thursday, forty days after Easter Day.
Advent prepares us to celebrate Christ’s first coming and his second coming to judge the living and the dead. The Sundays of Advent are always the four Sundays before Christmas Day, whether Christmas occurs on a Sunday or a weekday.
Christmas is the celebration of our Lord’s birth. This season begins on December 25 and ends on January 5.
Epiphany, beginning on January 6 and continuing through Shrove Tuesday, speaks of the glory of God revealed in Christ
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts 40 days, excluding Sundays. This season recalls the 40 days of our Lord’s temptation. It is a time of penitence and fasting in preparation for Easter. The last week in Lent, known as Holy Week, begins with Palm Sunday and leads us through the Lord’s Passion from his entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, to his Crucifixion on Good Friday, and his lying in the grave on Easter Eve.
Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This season of rejoicing extends through the 50 days after Easter.
Pentecost celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples. The season after Pentecost continues for the rest of the Church year until the beginning of Advent.
Green symbolizing life, hope, and peace...green used for the seasons of Epiphany and Pentecost, “ordinary time”.
Purple symbolizing penitence and mourning...purple is the color of Advent and Lent.
White representing purity and joy... white is used during the great festivals of Christmas and Easter.
Black representing great sorrow... black is used only on Good Friday.
Red signifying blood and fire... red appears on Pentecost Sunday and martyrs’ days.
Oxblood representing the Passion of Christ...a deep red, or crimson, is limited to Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion.