Annually recurring fixed sequence of Christian parties and festive seasons
Top 3 Liturgical year related articles
- 1 Liturgical cycle
- 2 Biblical calendars
- 3 Eastern Christianity
- 3.1 East Syriac Rite
- 3.2 Eastern Orthodox Church
- 3.3 Oriental Orthodox and P'ent'ay Evangelical Churches
- 4 Western Christianity
- 4.1 Denominational specifics
- 4.2 Liturgical calendar
- 4.2.1 Advent
- 4.2.2 Christmastide
- 4.2.3 Ordinary Time
- 4.2.4 Septuagesima/Pre-Lenten Season
- 4.2.5 Lent and Passiontide
- 4.2.6 Easter Triduum
- 4.2.7 Eastertide
- 4.2.8 Ordinary Time, Time after Pentecost, Time after Trinity, or Kingdomtide
- 4.2.9 Calendar of saints
- 5 Secular observance
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
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The liturgical year, also known as the church year or Christian year, as well as the kalendar, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches that determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read either in an annual cycle or in a cycle of several years.
Distinct liturgical colours may be used in connection with different seasons of the liturgical year. The dates of the festivals vary somewhat among the different churches, although the sequence and logic is largely the same.
Liturgical year Intro articles: 3
The liturgical cycle divides the year into a series of seasons, each with their own mood, theological emphases, and modes of prayer, which can be signified by different ways of decorating churches, colours of paraments and vestments for clergy, scriptural readings, themes for preaching and even different traditions and practices often observed personally or in the home. In churches that follow the liturgical year, the scripture passages for each Sunday (and even each day of the year in some traditions) are specified in a lectionary. After the Protestant Reformation, Anglicans and Lutherans continued to follow the lectionary of the Roman Rite. Following a decision of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church revised that lectionary in 1969, adopting a three-year cycle of readings for Sundays and a two-year cycle for weekdays.
Adaptations of the revised Roman Rite lectionary were adopted by Protestants, leading to the publication in 1994 of the Revised Common Lectionary for Sundays and major feasts, which is now used by many Protestant denominations, including also Methodists, Reformed, United, etc. This has led to a greater awareness of the traditional Christian year among Protestants, especially among mainline denominations.
Liturgical year Liturgical cycle articles: 15
Scholars are not in agreement about whether the calendars used by the Jews before the Babylonian exile were solar (based on the return of the same relative position between the sun and the earth), lunisolar (based on months that corresponded to the cycle of the moon, with periodic additional months to bring the calendar back into agreement with the solar cycle) like the present-day Jewish calendar of Hillel II, or lunar, such as the Hijri calendar.
The first month of the Hebrew year was called אביב (Aviv), evidently adopted by Moses from Ipip as the eleventh month of the non-lunar Egyptian calendar (that is also the origin of Abib as the tenth month of the non-lunar Ethiopian calendar), meaning the month of green ears of grain. Having to occur at the appropriate time in the spring, it thus was originally part of a tropical calendar. At about the time of the Babylonian exile, when using the Babylonian civil calendar, the Jews adopted the term ניסן (Nisan) as the name for the month, based on the Babylonian name Nisanu. Thomas J Talley says that the adoption of the Babylonian term occurred even before the exile.
In the earlier calendar, most of the months were simply called by a number (such as "the fifth month"). The Babylonian-derived names of the month that are used by Jews are:
- Nisan (March–April)
- Iyar (April–May)
- Sivan (May–June)
- Tammuz (June–July)
- Av (July–August)
- Elul (August–September)
- Tishrei (September–October)
- Marcheshvan (October–November)
- Kislev (November–December)
- Tevet (December–January)
- Shevat (January–February)
- Adar 1 (February; only during leap years)
- Adar (February–March)
In Biblical times, the following Jewish religious feasts were celebrated:
- Pesach (Passover) – 14 Nisan (sacrifice of a lamb), 15 Nisan (Passover seder)
- Chag HaMatzot (Unleavened Bread) – 15-21 Nisan
- Reishit Katzir (Firstfruits) – 16 Nisan
- Shavuot (Weeks) – Fiftieth day counted from Passover, normally 6 Sivan
- Rosh Hashanah (Trumpets) – 1 Tishrei
- Yom Kippur (Atonement) – 10 Tishrei
- Sukkot (Ingathering) – 15-21 Tishrei
- Shemini Atzeret (Assembly) – 22 Tishrei
- Chanukah (Dedication) – 25 Kislev-2/3 Tevet (instituted in 164 BC)
- Purim (Lots) – 14-15 Adar (instituted in c. 400 BC)
Liturgical year Biblical calendars articles: 35
Eastern Orthodox Church
The liturgical year in the Eastern Orthodox Church is characterized by alternating fasts and feasts, and is in many ways similar to the Catholic year. However, Church New Year (Indiction) traditionally begins on September 1 (Old Style or New Style), rather than the first Sunday of Advent. It includes both feasts on the Fixed Cycle and the Paschal Cycle (or Moveable Cycle). The most important feast day by far is the Feast of Pascha (Easter) – the Feast of Feasts. Then the Twelve Great Feasts, which commemorate various significant events in the lives of Jesus Christ and of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary).
The majority of Orthodox Christians (Russians, in particular) follow the Julian Calendar in calculating their ecclesiastical feasts, but many (including the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece), while preserving the Julian calculation for feasts on the Paschal Cycle, have adopted the Revised Julian Calendar (at present coinciding with the Gregorian Calendar) to calculate those feasts which are fixed according to the calendar date.
Between 1900 and 2100, there is a thirteen-day difference between the dates of the Julian and the Revised Julian and Gregorian calendars. Thus, for example, where Christmas is celebrated on December 25 O.S. (Old Style), the celebration coincides with January 7 in the Revised Calendar. The computation of the day of Pascha (Easter) is, however, always computed according to a lunar calendar based on the Julian Calendar, even by those churches which observe the Revised Calendar.
There are four fasting seasons during the year: The most important fast is Great Lent which is an intense time of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, extending for forty days prior to Palm Sunday and Holy Week, as a preparation for Pascha. The Nativity Fast (Winter Lent) is a time of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ (Christmas), but whereas Advent in the West lasts only four weeks, Nativity Fast lasts a full forty days. The Apostles' Fast is variable in length, lasting anywhere from eight days to six weeks, in preparation for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29). The Dormition Fast lasts for two weeks from August 1 to August 14 in preparation for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15). The liturgical year is so constructed that during each of these fasting seasons, one of the Great Feasts occurs, so that fasting may be tempered with joy.
In addition to these fasting seasons, Orthodox Christians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year (and some Orthodox monasteries also observe Monday as a fast day). Certain fixed days are always fast days, even if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday (in which case the fast is lessened somewhat, but not abrogated altogether); these are: The Decollation of St. John the Baptist, the Exaltation of the Cross and the day before the Epiphany (January 5). There are several fast-free periods, when it is forbidden to fast, even on Wednesday and Friday. These are: the week following Pascha, the week following Pentecost, the period from the Nativity of Christ until January the 5th and the first week of the Triodion (the week following the 17th Sunday before Pentecost).
The greatest feast is Pascha. Easter for both East and West is calculated as the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after March 21 (nominally the day of the vernal equinox), but the Orthodox calculations are based on the Julian calendar, whose March 21 corresponds at present with April 3 of the Gregorian calendar, and on calculations of the date of full moon different from those used in the West (see computus for further details).
The date of Pascha is central to the entire ecclesiastical year, determining not only the date for the beginning of Great Lent and Pentecost, but affecting the cycle of moveable feasts, of scriptural readings and the Octoechos (texts chanted according to the eight ecclesiastical modes) throughout the year. There are also a number of lesser feasts throughout the year that are based upon the date of Pascha. The moveable cycle begins on the Zacchaeus Sunday (the first Sunday in preparation for Great Lent or the 33rd Sunday after Pentecost as it is known), though the cycle of the Octoechos continues until Palm Sunday.
The date of Pascha affects the following liturgical seasons:
- The period of the Triodion (the Sundays before Great Lent, Cheesefare Week, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week)
- The period of the Pentecostarion (Sunday of Pascha through the Sunday After Pentecost which is also called the Sunday of all saints)
The twelve Great Feasts
Some of these feasts follow the Fixed Cycle, and some follow the Moveable (Paschal) Cycle. Most of those on the Fixed Cycle have a period of preparation called a Forefeast, and a period of celebration afterward, similar to the Western Octave, called an Afterfeast. Great Feasts on the Paschal Cycle do not have Forefeasts. The lengths of Forefeasts and Afterfeasts vary, according to the feast.
- Nativity of the Theotokos (September 8)
- Elevation of the Cross (September 14)
- the rediscovery of the original Cross on which Christ was crucified
- Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (November 21)
- the entry of the Theotokos into the Temple around the age of 3
- Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (December 25)
- Theophany (January 6)
- the baptism of Jesus Christ, Christ's blessing of the water, and the revealing of Christ as God
- Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (February 2)
- Annunciation of the Theotokos (March 25)
Note: In Eastern practice, should this feast fall during Holy Week or on Pascha itself, the feast of the Annunciation is not transferred to another day. In fact, the conjunction of the feasts of the Annunciation and Pascha (dipli Paschalia, Greek: διπλή Πασχαλιά) is considered an extremely festive event.
- Entry into Jerusalem (Sunday before Pascha)
- known in the West as Palm Sunday.
- Ascension (40 days after Pascha)
- Christ's ascension into Heaven following his resurrection.
- Pentecost (50 days after Pascha)
- Transfiguration of Our Lord (August 6)
- Christ's Transfiguration as witnessed by Peter, James and John.
- Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15)
Some additional feasts are observed with as though they were Great Feasts:
- The Protection of the Mother of God (October 1), especially among the Russian Orthodox
- The Feast of Saint James the Just (October 23)
- The Feast of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki (October 26)
- The Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel (November 8)
- The Feast of Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra in Lycia (December 6)
- The Feast of the Conception of Mary by Saints Joachim and Anne (December 9)
- The Feast of Saint Spiridon (December 12)
- The Feast of Saint Stephen the Deacon (December 27)
- The Feast of Saint Basil the Great and the Circumcision of Christ (January 1)
- The Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom (January 30)
- The Feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (March 9)
- The Feast of Saint Patrick (March 17)
- The Feast of Saint George (April 23)
- The Feast of the Holy Emperors Constantine and Helen (May 21)
- The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (June 24)
- The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29)
- The Feast of Saint Elijah the Prophet (July 20)
- The Feast of Saint Christina of Bolsena the Great Martyr (July 24)
- The Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29)
- Beginning of the Indiction-Ecclesiastical Year (September 1)
- The Patronal Feast of a church or monastery
Every day throughout the year commemorates some saint or some event in the lives of Christ or the Theotokos. When a feast on the moveable cycle occurs, the feast on the fixed cycle that was set for that calendar day is transferred, with the propers of the feast often being chanted at Compline on the nearest convenient day.
In addition to the Fixed and Moveable Cycles, there are a number of other liturgical cycles in the ecclesiastical year that affect the celebration of the divine services. These include, the Daily Cycle, the Weekly Cycle, the Cycle of Matins Gospels, and the Octoechos.