Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God - the logos incarnated - who ministered, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news", in the Bible (scripture). Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.
The Christian year is divided up with events which remind us of the life of Jesus. It begins with the season of Advent, at the very end of November, which is a period of preparation for the coming of Christ, and then moves through the story of his life to the important focus of Holy Week and Easter. After celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, the story focuses on the founding of the Church itself, with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, before settling down for a period of teaching and consolidation of the faith during the weeks of Trinity.
Some festivals, like Christmas Day, happen on the same date every year, while others move around within a range of dates.
Many people have a question: Why are some of the Christian festivals not on the same date each year? The reason is because the Christian Calendar grew out of two other Calendars, the Jewish and the Roman.
In their distant past, the Jews were a nomadic (wandering) people. As they often travelled at night, the moon was of great importance to them, and they based their calendar on its phases. The first great Christian festivals sprang from Jewish ones.
The Christian Church grew and expanded under the Roman Empire which followed a calendar controlled by the sun. When the church began to introduce festivals of its very own, not based on the Jews, they fixed them on dates already in the Roman Calendar. The Christian Calendar is thus a dual one, with 'fixed' feats based on the Roman 'solar' calendar, and 'moveable' ones based on the Jewish 'lunar' calendar.
Western Christian liturgical calendars are based on the cycle of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, including Lutheran, Anglican, and other Protestant calendars since this cycle pre-dates the Reformation. Generally, the liturgical seasons in western Christianity are Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time (Time after Epiphany), Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time (Time after Pentecost). Some Protestant traditions do not include Ordinary Time: every day falls into a denominated season.
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. However, Church New Year (Indiction) traditionally begins on September 1 (Old Style or New Style), rather than the first Sunday of Advent. It includes both feasts on the Fixed Cycle and the Paschal Cycle (or Moveable Cycle). The most important feast day by far is the Feast of Pascha (Easter) - the Feast of Feasts. Then the Twelve Great Feasts, which commemorate various significant events in the lives of Jesus Christ and of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary).
The most revered holidays and festivals of the Christian Church:
- Advent (Preparation for the commemoration of Jesus' Birth. Start of the Christmas Season)
- Christmas (Birth of Jesus)
- Easter and Holy Week (Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the end of Lent)
- Palm Sunday (Commemoration of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem)
- Holy Monday (Anointing of Jesus)
- Holy Tuesday (Predictions of Jesus)
- Spy Wednesday (Betrayal of Jesus by Judas)
- Maundy Thursday (Celebration of the Last Supper)
- Good Friday (Death of Jesus)
- Holy Saturday (Resting of Jesus)
- Easter Vigil (Official celebration of Jesus' Resurrection)
- Feast of the Annunciation (Conception of Jesus)
- Feast of the Ascension (Ascension of Jesus into Heaven)
- Lent (40 days of penance before Easter and the placing of ashes on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent)
- Mardi Gras (Celebration period before the ritual fasting season of Lent)
- Pentecost (Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus)
- The 7th Day Sabbath (Every Sunday of the year. Some Christian groups [e.g. Seventh-day Adventists, etc.] however, observe the Saturday Sabbath much like the Jews)
Christian holidays and festivals in 2020
Christian holidays and festivals in 2021
Christian holidays and festivals in 2022
Christian holidays and festivals in 2023
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