Seasons of the Church Year




Advent is the beginning of our church year.  The word “Advent” means “coming.”  It is a four-week season of expectant waiting and preparation before the arrival of the Christ child on Christmas day.



Christmas is the season when we celebrate the birth of Christ.  It is not just a single day; it is the 12-day period that takes place between sunset on Christmas Eve and continues through January 5 (the eve of the Epiphany of our Lord).  This time period is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. 


On the day of Epiphany (January 6), the church celebrates the revelation of Christ to all nations, as represented by the magi who come to worship Jesus. The season of Epiphany starts on January 6 and continues until the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, which is celebrated as the Transfiguration of our Lord.


The Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday, lasts for 40 days and ends at Easter. The forty days of Lent recall the 40 day fast of Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism (Matthew 4:2, Luke 4:1-2) and Moses’ 40 day fast on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28).  The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, repentance, alms-giving and self-denial.

Holy Week

Holy Week is last week of Lent and, also, the week before Easter.  These special days observe the events in the life of Jesus from His entry into Jerusalem through His crucifixion and burial. 

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  It is called Palm Sunday because the crowds, who were in Jerusalem for Passover, waved palm branches and proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah. 

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his Twelve Apostles, where Jesus first performed what we now call the Eucharist (Holy Communion), where He washed the feet of His disciples and where He gave them the new command to “love one another.” 

Good Friday commemorates Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, suffering, death and burial.

Holy Saturday is the last day of Holy Week and commemorates the day that Jesus’ body lay in the tomb.  Holy Saturday lasts until dusk, after which the Easter Vigil is celebrated, marking the official start of the Easter season.


Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the final conquering of death. 

The season of Easter (Eastertide) begins on Easter Sunday and lasts for seven weeks (50 days) – until the Day of Pentecost.

The Ascension (which is always on a Thursday)commemorates when the resurrected Jesus was taken up to heaven in his resurrected body, in the presence of eleven of his disciples, occurring 40 days after the resurrection.  During the Ascension, an angel tells the watching disciples that Jesus’ second coming will take place in the same manner as his Ascension.



Pentecost (“50th day”) commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the group of about 120 people (the twelve disciples and Jesus’ other followers) in the “Upper Room”, as described in Acts 2:1-31.  Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.  During Pentecost we celebrate God’s continued presence in our lives in the form of his Spirit.  Since about 3,000 people were baptized and became disciples of Jesus on that day, Pentecost has also become a traditional day to perform baptisms and to bring new members into the Church.  The season of Pentecost continues through to the Saturday before Trinity Sunday.

Ordinary Time


Trinity Sunday (the First Sunday after Pentecost) marks the beginning of Ordinary Time, which continues through the Saturday before Advent.  Ordinary Time gets its name from the word “ordinal” – meaning “numbered”, e.g., first, second, third, etc.  Some of the Festival Days celebrated during Ordinary Time are Reformation Sunday, All Saints Sunday, the Transfiguration of Jesus and Christ the King Sunday.