First season of the liturgical year. It is traditionally a fast, and
begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Its
purpose is the preparation for Christmas, with the focus on
expectation. Awaiting the coming of the Christ Child into the world is
often represented by the Advent Wreath, a garland of evergreens with 4
candles: 3 purple and one rose. Each candle lit represents a particular
theme of the coming Christmas season for which one is preparing, hope,
faith, love and joy.
Color: Blue or Violet.
Typically begins with a worship service on Christmas Eve (December 24)
and ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Epiphany) on the
Sunday after January 6 . Christmas Day itself is December 25. The
12-day length of the Christmas season gives rise to "The Twelve Days of
Christmas"; despite what retailers and the media might have one
believe, the Twelve Days begin on Christmas Day, instead of ending on
Color: White or Gold.
("Time after Epiphany" and "Septuagesima")
Ordinary comes from the same root as our word ordinal, and in this
sense means "the counted weeks." The first part (formerly known as the
season after Epiphany) extends from the Monday following the Christmas
Season through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
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 a major fast taken by the Church to prepare for Easter. It
begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, in Holy Week. There
are forty days of Lent not including Sundays. The last two weeks of
Lent are known as "Passiontide", which begins on Passion Sunday; the
final week of Lent is known as "Holy Week," which begins on Palm
The date of Easter varies from year to year, but is set to be close to
the date of Jesus' resurrection, which the holiday recognizes.
Eastertide, or the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and continues
Color: White or Gold, except on . . .
The fiftieth day of Easter, is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on
human flesh. Pentecost is celebrated by Christians as the birthday of
the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Color: Red.
Ordinary Time ("Time After Pentecost")
Ordinary Time resumes after the Easter Season, on Pentecost Monday,
includes All Saints' Day and ends on the Saturday before the First
Sunday of Advent. Color: Green. The first Sunday after Pentecost is
and the last Sunday of Ordinary Time is Christ the King Sunday.