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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 on the Sunday before January 6.

Ordinary Time

In this sense, ordinary means not assigned to a specific season. Usually it consists of 33 or 34 Sundays, depending on the year. The first part extends between the Monday following the Advent Season and the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.


Lent is the time taken by the Church to prepare for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Maundy Thursday in the Holy Week. There are forty days of Lent, counted from the First Sunday of Lent to Maundy Thursday.

Easter Triduum

The Easter Triduum consists of:


The Easter season extends from the Easter Vigil through Pentecost Sunday 50 days later. It commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

Ordinary Time

The second part of Ordinary Time begins again after the Easter Season, on the Monday after Pentecost, and ends on Saturday eve before the First Sunday of Advent.

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