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The Liturgical Calendar

The liturgical calendar follows the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Some branches of Christianity follow a liturgical calendar that observes more specific events and traditions than others. But here are key dates, seasons, and colors that Christians in many protestant churches observe each year.


Time: The four Sundays before Christmas

Purpose: Advent is a time of preparation for and anticipation of the birth of Jesus.

Liturgical color: Purple


Time: December 25

Purpose: Christmas celebrates Christ’s birth.

Liturgical color: White


Time: January 6

Purpose: Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the Son of God as a human being in Jesus. Western Christians usually commemorate the magi’s visit to Jesus.

Liturgical color: White

Baptism of the Lord

Time: The Sunday after Epiphany

Purpose: This is the day we celebrate John the Baptist’s baptism of Christ in the Jordan River.

Liturgical color: White


Time: The period of time between Ash Wednesday and Holy Week

Purpose: Lent is a time of penitence and preparing for the death of Christ.

Liturgical color: Purple

Ash Wednesday

Time: 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday

Purpose: This day marks the beginning of Lent. It is focused on prayer, fasting, and repentance.

Liturgical color: Purple

Palm Sunday

Time: The Sunday before Easter

Purpose: Palm Sunday commemorates the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. It celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Liturgical color: Red

Holy Week

Time: The week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday

Purpose: Holy Week commemorates the last days of Jesus’ earthly life. It is a time of repentance and sometimes fasting as the church prepares to remember Jesus’ sacrifice.

Liturgical color: Through Wednesday the liturgical color is red. From Thursday through Saturday there is no color

Maundy Thursday

Time: Thursday of Holy Week

Purpose: Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Liturgical color: None

Good Friday

Time: Friday of Holy Week

Purpose: Good Friday is the commemoration of Jesus’s crucifixion and death.

Liturgical color: None


Time: Easter is held on the Sunday following the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox

Purpose: Easter is the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection and the empty tomb. The Easter season lasts until Pentecost Sunday.

Liturgical color: White

Ascension Day

Time: 40 days after Easter Sunday

Purpose: Ascension Day is the celebration of Jesus’s ascension after his resurrection.

Liturgical color: White


Time: Seven weeks after Easter

Purpose: Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles.

Liturgical color: Red

Trinity Sunday

Time: The first Sunday after Pentecost

Purpose: Trinity Sunday celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Liturgical color: White

Christ the King Sunday

Time: The last Sunday before Advent

Purpose: Christ the King Sunday celebrates the complete authority of Christ as king and Lord of creation.

Liturgical color: None