What happens when and why?
There are different seasons and observances which make up the church’s year. They have grown up over time to help Christians remember the foundations and key points of their faith. Within the year there are also fixed dates when saints are remembered.
The Church year begins in Advent (meaning ‘coming’), four Sundays before Christmas Day.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. It is a fixed date which is 25th December, which means Advent varies in length.
(meaning ‘revelation’) follows on the 6th January. It commemorates the visit of the Magi (often called the Wise Men) to the infant Jesus. The season of Epiphany continues to reflect on the way God is revealed to the world.
This celebrates the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, forty days after his birth. It is therefore celebrated on February 2nd.
This is the beginning of Lent. It is derived by counting back 47 days from Easter day (40 days not including Sundays).
Lent is a season of penitence, discipline and preparation, used originally by candidates preparing for baptism at Easter.
Easter is a ‘moveable feast’, which is now calculated by finding the first Sunday after the spring full moon. The Easter season lasts until Pentecost, and celebrates the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
40 days after Easter Day Ascension Day commemorates the ascension of Christ into heaven.
Pentecost means in Greek ‘50 days’ and comes from a Jewish harvest festival. It occurs 50 days after Easter, and commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples.
This is the Sunday after Pentecost. Here the church reflects on God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons yet one God.
The rest of the year is called ordinary time
Throughout the years Saints days are also marked, often on the date of their death.
The significance of colour in the Church Year
Church colours determine the colours worn by the clergy and the altar frontals.
White or Gold
Christmas and Easter, and many saints
Pentecost, Passiontide, Apostles and martyrs
Purple (or Blue)
Times of penitence such as Advent or Lent