The Seasons of the Church Year

Our church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, the fourth Sunday before the last Sunday before Christmas. The color of the cloths on the altar table and the lectern, the stoles that the priest and deacon wear, and the chasuble that the priest wears while administering the Holy Eucharist change throughout the year to signify the current season.

During Advent the liturgical color is blue, a color traditionally associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Christmas it is red. After Epiphany the color is green, signifying growth. On Ash Wednesday and throughout the season of Lent, the color is purple, associated with penance.

At the end of the service on Maundy Thursday, the altar is stripped bare of all decorations, and while it is in this plain state, Good Friday is observed. On Easter Sunday the altar is draped in celebratory white among many Easter lilies.

During the season from Easter to Pentecost the liturgical color remains white. When this season ends on Pentecost Sunday, White is replaced with Red, symbolizing the Holy Spirit descending in tongues of fire. From Pentecost until the start of Advent is the “ordinary time of year”, and the liturgical color returns to green.