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Seasons of the Christian Church Calendar

The Christian calendar is retained in Christian Church bodies throughout the world for several reasons. First, a regular calendar is helpful to keep the remembrances before us. Just as God commanded the Jewish people to recall how He delivered them in the past (e.g., the Passover, Exodus 12:14; Leviticus 23:4–8), so, too, early Christians recalled the historic time-related events that were important to their faith, as Jesus had encouraged His disciples to do (Luke 22:19). Second, following their Jewish predecessors, Christians consider the regularity of the holidays as teaching moments, with the celebrations of the events of Christ’s life used to tell and retell the Good News. Finally, Christians recognize that this life is not an end in itself. A calendar of Christian events unites present-day believers with those of the past as well as the future.

Seasons
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The Season of Advent

Dates: The Fourth Sunday before Christmas (December 25) through midday prayer on December 24

Colours: Violet or blue, rose

The Church Year starts with Advent, a series of four Sundays before Christmas. The name comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming in to.” Advent highlights Christ’s arrival. Readings from the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah and the ministry of John the Baptist remind us that Christ has been God’s promise to us since the beginning (see Genesis 3:15).

The typical colours for the season are either violet, which shows Christ is the royal Prince of Peace and Savior of the nations, or blue, which invokes the hope of the Messiah promised to Israel and the world. Many churches will also use an Advent wreath with three violets and one rose- (or pink-) coloured candles encircling a single larger white candle. Each Sunday, one candle on the wreath is lit as a countdown to Christmas, when the white candle is finally lit as a sign of Christ’s incarnation.

The Season of Christmas

Dates: Christmas Day through to January 6th - Epiphany

Colours: Gold and white

On Christmas Day, the Church celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. The traditional Christmas season isn’t just a day, it’s twelve! We begin the season, with a Christmas Eve service. Starting with Christmas Day, the season continues for twelve days and culminates with a new season, the Epiphany of Our Lord, on January 6th (Ukrainian Christmas)

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Figurines created by Margaret McLean for CGIT Vesper Service, 1984

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Carving created by David Ellery, 2011

The Season of Epiphany

Dates: January 6 - Shrove Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Colours: White and green

Epiphany begins on January 06 which celebrates the visitation of the Magi to the infant Christ. The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “revealing.” It comes from the Greek word epiphaneia. Epiphany also marks the first time the Messiah was shared with those outside of Israel, the Gentiles.

 The Season of Lent

Dates: Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday)

Colours: Black, violet, scarlet, and white

Lent is a sombre 40-day period (not including Sundays) before Easter where the Church reflects on human sinfulness and practices repentance. The name comes from the old English word lenten, which referred to the early months of spring, the same time Lent began. It begins with Ash Wednesday when God’s people receive a cross of ashes on their foreheads along with a reminder: “For you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). “The placing of ashes on the forehead is a sign of penitence and a reminder of human mortality” Palm Sunday comes one week before Easter, initiating Holy Week and commemorating Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. During Holy Week, the events of Jesus’ final days come in quick succession, with Holy (Maundy) Thursday commemorating the Last SupperGood Friday remembering His betrayal and crucifixion, and Holy Saturday anticipating Christ’s resurrection.

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 Wreath created by   Hazel Lingard  

The Season of Easter

Dates: Easter Sunday until Pentecost

Colours: Gold and white

Easter Season begins with . . . You guessed it: Easter Sunday. But when is that? Well, the date of Easter Sunday each year is based on the Jewish date of the Passover, which relies on a lunar month calendar. Following this, Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the first day of spring. It is a lot of firsts, but Christ’s resurrection was also a first! 

Season of Pentecost

Colours: Red

Forty days after Easter Sunday, the Church celebrates the Ascension of Our Lord. On the final Sunday of the season, the Church celebrates Pentecost.

Easter season, celebrated as Pentecost, was adopted by early Christians to commemorate the first great harvest of believers for Christ (Acts 2:1–41). Thus Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church as the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. The fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, known as the Great Fifty Days, was the first liturgical season observed in the first three centuries of the Church. Pentecost uses red, recalling the flames of the Holy Spirit and foreshadowing the blood shed by the martyrs

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The Season after Pentecost

Colour: Green

The Season of Creation

Dates: The day after Pentecost until the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent.

Colour: Orange

The first Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday when the Church celebrates the holy mystery of the Trinity. After Trinity Sunday, the next several months consist of counted “Sundays after Pentecost,” sometimes known as Ordinary time. This period runs until the end of the Church Year, setting the stage in late November for the beginning of Advent. Tucked into Ordinary time is the Season of Creation, highlighted with the colour orange. Season of Creation is four (4) weeks starting in mid-September and concluding in mid-October. The United Church of Canada introduced Creation Time in the Season of Pentecost in 2010.  This is a time to realize and celebrate that we live within a miracle – life on the planet Earth, and that we are biologically and spiritually kin with all creation.  The realization that we belong to Earth means that we are not so much her beneficent caretakers, as we are indebted and grateful because all of our life energy is derived from her. 

Red Leaves
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