The Calendar of the Church Year
The calendar orders the liturgical year of the Episcopal Church by identifying two cycles of feasts and holy days--one dependent upon the movable date of Easter Day and the other dependent upon the fixed date of Christmas, Dec. 25. Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after Mar. 21. The sequence of all Sundays in the church year is based on the date of Easter. Tables and rules for finding the date of Easter Day, and other movable feasts and holy days are provided by the BCP, pp. 880-885.
Feasts of the Church Year
There are other days of optional observance, including the commemorations listed in the calendar of the church year. The BCP provides proper readings and collects for the major feasts. Propers for the lesser feasts and fixed holy days are published in Lesser Feasts and Fasts. The BCP also provides the Common of Saints, which are propers for general categories of lesser saints such as martyrs, missionaries, pastors, theologians and teachers, and monastics.
In a general sense, a holy day is any day set apart for special observance because of its significance for faith.
Major Feasts, or Red-letter Days
Major celebrations of the church year for which the Prayer Book appoints proper collects, psalms, and lessons. They include the seven principal feasts (Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints' Day, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany), Sundays, and major holy days (including feasts of our Lord, all feasts of apostles, all feasts of evangelists, and other designated feasts
Lesser Feasts and Fasts, The (LFF)
A collection of proper collects, lessons, and psalms for the eucharist on each of the weekdays of Lent, weekdays of Easter season, and each of the lesser feasts of the church year.
Three days which occur four times a year: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after St. Lucy's Day (Dec. 13), Ash Wednesday, the Day of Pentecost, and Holy Cross Day (Sept. 14). T
The first season of the church year, beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continuing through the day before Christmas. The name is derived from a Latin word for "coming." The season is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming celebration of our Lord's nativity, and for the final coming of Christ "in power and glory."
Christmas, or Christ's Mass
Christmas Day is one of the seven principal feasts. The Christmas season lasts twelve days, from Christmas Day until Jan. 5, the day before the Epiphany. The season includes Christmas Day, the First Sunday after Christmas Day, the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and may include the Second Sunday after Christmas Day. In many parishes, the main liturgical celebrations of Christmas take place on Christmas Eve.
A season of four to nine weeks, from the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6) through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The length of the season varies according to the date of Easter.
The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The term is derived from shriving, which means confessing and absolving. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is also commonly known as "Mardi Gras" or "Fat Tuesday."
The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality, and may be imposed with the sign of the cross.
Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Paschal. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word".
From early times Christians have observed the week before Easter as a time of special devotion. From this beginning evolved the rites we observe today on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These services provide a liturgical experience of the last days of Jesus' earthly life, as well as the time and events leading up to his resurrection. In many Episcopal parishes, the liturgical color for Holy Week from Palm Sunday through Maundy Thursday is red. Holy Week ends at sundown on the Saturday before Easter, or with the celebration of the Easter Vigil.
Palm Sunday (The Sunday of the Passion)
The Sunday before Easter at which Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:1-11, Mk 11:1-11a, Lk 19:29-40) and Jesus' Passion on the cross (Mt 26:36-27:66, Mk 14:32-15:47, Lk 22:39-23:56) are recalled. It is also known as the Sunday of the Passion. Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week. Red is the liturgical color for the day. The liturgy of the palms is the entrance rite for the service. In the 1979 BCP, the Passion gospel is drawn from one of the three synoptic accounts of the Passion, one of which is appointed for each of the three years in the eucharistic lectionary. The Passion gospel is announced simply, "The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to _________."
A period of three days of preparation for a feast day. The term is most frequently used for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, the three days prior to Easter Sunday that are the concluding days of Holy Week, also known as the Easter Triduum.
The Thursday in Holy Week. It is part of the Triduum, or three holy days before Easter. The ceremony of washing feet was referred to as "the Maundy." Maundy Thursday celebrations also commemorate the institution of the eucharist by Jesus "on the night he was betrayed."
The Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial.
Holy Saturday (or Easter Eve, Easter Even)
The Saturday after Good Friday, which recalls the day when the crucified Christ visited among the dead while his body lay in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. In the Episcopal Church there is no eucharist on Holy Saturday. Fasting and other preparations end at sunset or with the Easter Vigil, which begins the celebration of Easter.
The feast of Christ's resurrection. Easter Day is the annual feast of the resurrection, the pascha or Christian Passover, and the eighth day of cosmic creation. Faith in Jesus' resurrection on the Sunday or third day following his crucifixion is at the heart of Christian belief. Easter always falls between Mar. 22 and Apr. 25 inclusive.
Great Fifty Days (or Eastertide)
The feast of Easter is a season of fifty days, from Easter Eve through the Day of Pentecost. From early times the Greek word pentecost (fiftieth day) was used also for the whole Paschal season. During this season there is no fasting. The word "alleluia" (praise the Lord) is said or sung repeatedly, which contrasts sharply with the season of Lent when the alleluia is omitted. The color of liturgical vestments and hangings is white or gold.
The term means "the fiftieth day." It is used in both the OT and the NT. In the OT it refers to a feast of seven weeks known as the Feast of Weeks. It was apparently an agricultural event that focused on the harvesting of first fruits. The term is used in the NT to refer to the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), shortly after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. Christians came to understand the meaning of Pentecost in terms of the gift of the Spirit. The Pentecost event was the fulfillment of a promise which Jesus gave concerning the return of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is now the seventh Sunday after Easter. It emphasizes that the church is understood as the body of Christ which is drawn together and given life by the Holy Spirit.
Feast that celebrates "the one and equal glory" of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, "in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Being" (BCP, p. 380). It is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost.
The season after Pentecost, according to the calendar of the church year. It begins on the Monday following Pentecost, and continues through most of the summer and autumn. It may include as many as twenty-eight Sundays, depending on the date of Easter. This includes Trinity Sunday which is the First Sunday after Pentecost. This period is also understood by some as "ordinary time".
" This term is used in the Roman Catholic Church to indicate the parts of the liturgical year that are not included in the major seasons of the church calendar. Ordinary time includes the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and the Monday after Pentecost through the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. The term "ordinary time" is not used in the Prayer Book, but the season after Pentecost can be considered ordinary time. It may be referred to as the "green season," because green is the usual liturgical color for this period of the church year.
Holy Cross Day
A major feast observed on Sept. 14 in honor of Christ's self-offering on the cross for our salvation. The collect for Holy Cross Day recalls that Christ "was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world unto himself," and prays that "we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him". The themes of Holy Cross Day are powerfully expressed by the hymn "Lift high the cross" (Hymn 473).
All Saints' Day
Commemorates all saints, known and unknown, on Nov. 1. All Saints' Day is one of the seven principal feasts of the church year, and one of the four days recommended for the administration of baptism. All Saints' Day may also be celebrated on the Sunday following Nov. 1.
All Faithful Departed, Commemoration of (All Soul’s)
This optional observance is an extension of All Saints' Day. While All Saints' is to remember all the saints, popular piety felt the need to distinguish between outstanding saints and those who are unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends. Commemoration of All Faithful Departed did not appear in an American Prayer Book until 1979, and it is celebrated on Nov. 2. It is also known as All Souls' Day.
Thanksgiving Day is a major holy day and a national day in the Prayer Book calendar of the church year. The collect for Thanksgiving Day gives thanks to God the Father for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. It asks that we may be faithful stewards of God's great bounty, providing for our own necessities and the relief of all who are in need. The Litany of Thanksgiving may be used on Thanksgiving Day in place of the prayers of the people at the eucharist, or at any time after the collects at Morning or Evening Prayer, or separately.
Stir-up Sunday (formerly called Christ the King Sunday)
The emphasis for the last Sunday before Advent is different in the 1979 BCP. Although Christ the King Sunday is not officially celebrated in the Episcopal Church, the collect for the last Sunday of the liturgical year (Proper 29) in the 1979 BCP prays that all the peoples of the earth may be brought together under the "most gracious rule" of Christ, "the King of kings and Lord of lords". However, the collect for the third Sunday of Advent begins with the prayer "Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us. . .