Calendopaedia - The Christian Calendar

The Christian Calendar is different from the other calendars on this web site because it is not a means of dividing the year into weeks and months but rather a list of special days, festival days and days for remembering events in the life of Christ. These dates are then mapped onto the Gregorian calendar. Most churches around the world use the Gregorian calendar which is understandable as it was devised for the church under the instruction of Pope Gregory. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, wanted to show its independence from the Roman Catholic Church and uses the Julian calendar.

Many of the days mentioned on this page are celebrated by either the Church Of England or the Roman Catholic Church or both. The free Protestant churches tend to celebrate only the more important dates. This page does not list saints days as there are many of these and they tend to be of interest to a limited number of people.

By using the information given on this page as a basis it should be possible to calculate when any of these days occur in any year. A large proportion of the days are calculated in relation to Easter, which is in turn based on the date of Passover. As Passover is a Jewish celebration its timing is dictated by the Hebrew lunar calendar. To make life easier for themselves, and remove their dependence on the Hebrew calendar, Protestants now calculate the timing of Easter by means of a formula. The result of this is that it does not always align with the Passover.

The rules to determine when Easter falls are -

  1. Easter Day must be on a Sunday;
  2. this Sunday must follow the 14th day of the paschal moon;
  3. the paschal moon is that of which the 14th day (full moon) falls on or next follows the day of the vernal equinox;
  4. the equinox is fixed in the calendar as 21 March. Easter can never occur before 22 March or later than 25 April.

Although Easter can fall at any time between these two dates it is rare for it to fall at either extreme. The last time Easter was on 22 March was AD 1818 and this will next happen in AD 2285. The latest date of 25 April last occured in AD 1943 and will next occur in AD 2038.

How to calculate the date for Easter Sunday

The calculation method described here will work for any year since 1752. Take the number of the year, add one, and then divide by 19. Forget the answer and just use the remainder. Look up the remainder in the following table. Easter is on the first Sunday after the date in the table. Let us take as an example, the year 2000. 2000 plus 1 is 2001. If you divide 2001 by 19, the answer is 105 with a remainder of 6. The date in the table for 6 is 18 April. Therefore, Easter Day falls on the following Sunday, which was 23 April 2000.

Remainder Date Remainder Date Remainder Date
0 March 27 6 April 18 13 April 2
1 April 14 7 April 8 14 March 22
2 April 3 8 March 28 15 April 10
3 March 23 9 April 16 16 March 30
4 April 11 10 April 5 17 April 17
5 March 31 11 March 25 18 April 7
    12 April 13    

Alternatively you can consult the GENUKI Dates of Easter Sunday and Perpetual Calendar web site and just look it up.

Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar to calculate Easter Day and adjust the date so that it falls after the Jewish Passover. For them, Easter Season also lasts fifty days, ending on Pentecost.

The Christian Calendar

Feast of the Circumcision January 1 A festival in honour of the circumcision of Christ. Probably introduced to replace pagan New Year celebrations.
Epiphany January 6 The day that the Wise Men visited Jesus at Bethlehem. This is also a Catholic holiday celebrating the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.
Christmas Day
(Orthodox Church)
January 7 The Orthodox Church still use the Julian calendar.
Annunciation March 25 The announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary of the incarnation of Christ.
Shrove Sunday Sunday before Ash Wednesday Also known as Quinquagesima.
Shrove Monday Monday before Ash Wednesday Also called Rose Monday.
Shrove Tuesday Day before Ash Wednesday From 'shrive', an ancient word meaning to seek forgiveness. Originally a day of repentance in preparation for the period of Lent. Later it became a time to feast and use up food stocks before the Lenten fast.
Ash Wednesday 46 days before Easter The Day of Ashes. This is the first day of Lent, occurring forty days before Easter not counting Sundays. The ancient custom on this day is for the faithful to receive on the forehead the sign of a cross marked with blessed ashes. The palms from the previous Palm Sunday are burned and the ashes are blessed for the ceremony before the Mass.
First Sunday of Lent Six weeks before Easter Also known as Orthodoxy Sunday. Commemorates the restoration of the use of icons in the church (842 AD), and the triumph over all heresies.
Mothering Sunday (UK) Three weeks before Easter Also known as Laetare Sunday. Young people in domestic service were allowed the day off to visit their mothers.
Passion Sunday Two weeks before Easter Also known as Judica.
Palm Sunday Sunday before Easter Commemorates Christ's entry into Jerusalem. The start of Holy Week.
Maundy Thursday Thursday before Easter Commemorates Christ's Last Supper and His washing of the disciples' feet.
Good Friday Friday before Easter The anniversary of the crucifixion of Christ. Also known as Holy Friday.
Easter Sunday See calculation at the top of this page. Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection. The resurrection took place on Sunday, which was from then on the "Lord's Day".
Rogation Sunday Sunday before Ascension Day The Latin name is Vocem Juncunditatis. Rogation Days are the three days preceding Ascension Day.
Ascension Day Ten days before Pentecost Commemorates the Ascension of Christ.
or Whitsunday
Seventh Sunday after Easter A festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles. Also known as Whitsunday, meaning "white Sunday", probably due to the white baptismal robes worn on that day.
Trinity Sunday Sunday after Pentecost A festival in honour of the Trinity.
Corpus Christi Thursday after Trinity Sunday A festival in honour of the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper. The name means "body of Christ".
Transfiguration August 6 Commemoration of the biblical event when Christ is changed in appearance on the mountain. Observed by Roman Catholic and Anglican churches on August 6. Observed by Lutherans on the sixth Sunday after Epiphany.
Creation October 23 According to Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), God created the universe on October 23, 4004 BC. That would make the universe 6000 years old in 1997 AD. James Ussher was an Irish Archbishop whose chronology of Biblical history was, at one time, widely accepted throughout Christianity.
Advent Sunday Sunday closest to St Andrew's Day
(Nov 30)
Begins the Advent season and the beginning of the ecclesiastical year.
Immaculate Conception December 8 Roman Catholics hold this in honour of the unique privilege by which Mary was conceived by her mother without the stain of original sin.
Christmas Day December 25 Commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Childermas December 28 By orders of King Herod, the children of Bethlehem were massacred in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus.

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