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Liturgical year
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Liturgical year

The liturgical year consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in some Christian churches which determines when Feasts, Memorials, Commemorations and Solemnities are to be observed and which portions of Scripture are to be read. Distinct liturgical colours may appear in connection with different seasons of the liturgical year.

Some observances are attached to a specific date, while others depend on other events in the church year and are therefore considered "movable." Most of these depend on the number of days before or after Easter.

Table of contents
1 Roman Catholic Church
2 Eastern Orthodox Church

Roman Catholic Church

The seasons in the Roman Catholic Church are:


First season of the liturgical year. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and its purpose is the preparation for Christmas.


The Christmas season begins with the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on the Sunday after January 6 (formerly on the eighth and final day of the Octave of Epiphany, or January 13).

Ordinary Time

In this sense, ordinary means not assigned to a specific season. It consists of either 33 or 34 Sundays, depending on the year. The first part (formerly known as the season after Epiphany) extends from the Monday following the Christmas Season (or, in the United States only, from the Tuesday in years when the first Sunday after January 6 falls on January 7 or 8, in which case the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is observed on a Monday instead of a Sunday) through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Prior to 1970, the last three Sundays before Lent were designated Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, from the Latin words for 70, 60 and 50 respectively (referring to roughly how many days remained until Easter, even though the actual respective numbers are 63, 56 and 49). This first installment of Ordinary Time has anywhere from four to nine Sundays, depending on how early or late Easter falls in a given year.


Lent is the time taken by the Church to prepare for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Maundy Thursday, in Holy Week. There are forty days of Lent, counting from Ash Wednesday through the Easter Triduum, but not including Sundays.

Easter Triduum

The Easter Triduum consists of:


The Easter season extends from the Easter Vigil through Pentecost Sunday 49 days later. It commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

Ordinary Time

The second part of Ordinary Time begins after the Easter Season, on the Monday after Pentecost, and ends on the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. Before the liturgical calendar was reformed at the Second Vatican Council, the Sundays in this part of the year were listed as "Sundays after Pentecost."

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 Roman Catholic year described above. It includes the 12 Great Feasts, plus Pascha (Easter) itself, the Feast of Feasts. These feasts generally mark various significant events in the lives of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary. Winter Lent is one name for the extended fast leading up to the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Christmas). Great Lent is the extended fast leading up to Holy Week and Pascha. Other times are especially set aside as well. Two other extended fasts are the Apostles' Fast, generally about one to two weeks leading up to the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and the fast leading up to the Dormition of Mary, which is for the two weeks prior to that feast, from August 1 to August 14.

The Twelve Great Feasts