Church Calendar

<<Christian yearly events>>

The Christian calendar is an annual schedule of certain days and seasons relating to the Christian faith. In the OT, God ordained feasts or celebrations that Israel was to observe each year to commemorate a spiritual truth. Some parts of the church adopted similar practices, to commemorate and celebrate significant events, particularly before literacy was widespread. The secular world has commercialized some of these special days and their significance is overshadowed:

Advent (meaning coming) is the time leading up to Christmas. It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and some churches light candles to symbolize the hope, love and peace resulting from Christ’s coming.

The Christmas season lasts for twelve days starting with the birthday of Christ (normally celebrated on December 25, but on January 7 in Eastern churches). It ends on January 6, the day of Epiphany.

An epiphany means a revelation and, according to tradition, Jesus was manifest to the Gentiles by the arrival of the wise men at this time (Mt 2:1-12).

Lent is a solemn time of reflection and evaluation with fasting, repentance and prayer and lasts for forty days leading up to Easter (Sundays are not counted in the forty days). Ash Wednesday is the official beginning.

Holy Week (also called Passion Week) commences with Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. It derives it’s name from the crowd waving palm branches to welcome Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (Jn 12:13).

Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified. Although a horrendous crime, Jesus’ sacrifice secured our salvation, the greatest good that has ever been done for the human race – this parallels the Passover of the OT.

Look beyond the days to their significance

Easter Sunday (also called Resurrection Sunday) celebrates the rising of Jesus from the dead (Mk16:9).

Pentecost Sunday is observed fifty days after Easter and commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit (Act 2:1-4). Trinity Sunday is the next Sunday after Pentecost and is observed to honour the Trinity.

Christian worship is traditionally held on the first day of the week, Sunday, being the day Christ rose from the dead (Act 20:7). While Christians are to meet together regularly and to observe communion on a regular basis as a remembrance of Jesus’ death for our sins, beyond that, there are no special days specified that we are to celebrate, and Paul states we are not to judge one another in their observance (Rom 14:5-9).

See also: advent, Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Passion Week, Passover, Pentecost.