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The Church Year

For hundreds of years, the cycle of the church year and the different festivals, observances and commemorations provided a way of teaching the story of God and his actions in human history. 

There is a timeless rhythm to the Church Year.  It focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ with a sequence of festivals that run from Advent until Easter Sunday and a series of observances throughout the rest of the year.  Together they provide a vehicle for an annual spiritual journey which allows us to reflect on the coming of Christ, His death and resurrection.  Holy days recall those many men and women who have lived their lives as His servants, providing examples to the rest of us to follow.

The temporal cycle

This page explains how the two periods of sacred time in the year are organized.

Moveable dates

The date of Easter changes each year and this means that some key dates move.  The time before Advent, the time of Lent and the time after Trinity Sunday all vary in length.  See this page for an explanation.

Holy days

Feasts, holy days and certain festivals commemorate events in the life of Our Lord.  Other festivals and commemorations call to mind the lives of saints, beginning with the first martyrs and confessors of the Church and many, often post-Reformation Christians, who have not been canonised in the traditional sense.  A complete list of holy days can be found here.

The seasons

Just as we observe the changing seasons during the year, so the Church Year is divided into seasons which have their own distinct character and meaning.  The seasons are described here.


The most instantly recognizable change during the year is the use of colour.   Each season, feast and festival has its own colour that provides additional meaning to the time.  Colours are explained here.

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