Colors and Seasons in Church Life

Have you ever noticed the difference in colors that Priests and Deacons wear throughout the year? How do we know that we wear Purple in Lent and Green in Pentecost… heck how do we even know when Pentecost begins?

Two Dates Rule Them All

There are two dates that our church calendar revolves around, Christmas and Easter. Christmas having a fixed date of December 25 and Easter a floating date being the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring.

Advent – Purple

Advents starts our church calendar beginning four Sundays before Christmas and goes until Christmas Eve. This season marks a time of reflection, remembrance, and anticipation in a season of Joy for our Savior who humbled himself to be born a baby living amongst those whom he would save. The color of the season in purple, signifying penitence and reflection.

For more consider reading Advent the light in a season of Darkness

Christmas – White

The Christmas season begins on December 25th and lasts for twelve days until January 5th. During Christmas we wear white as a symbolism of Jesus’ burial garments and christ’s purity. Typically music becomes more joyous and upbeat in tempo compared to Advent.

Fun Fact: Following the end of Christmas on Three Kings Day, it is common in hispanic culture to leave water and grass for the Wise Men’s camels, in exchange the Wise Men will leave gift for the children.

Epiphany – Green

Epiphany runs from January 6th until Ash Wednesday. This season is a time of celebration for Jesus Christ coming to his people on earth (see prior Three Kings Day celebration). On Epiphany we wear white, and then green for the rest of the season symbolizing the rejuvenation in vegetation and life.

Lent – Purple

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is a season of repentance and remembrance commemorating the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. It is common for us to choose to give up something or take something on in order to draw closer to Christ during this somber time. Characteristics of the season tends to be more somber less energetic music, and not saying alleluia which is an expression of joy and thanks. During Lent the color of the season is Purple signifying penitence.

For more consider watching a sermon about the Season of Lent.

Holy Week – Red

Holy week begins on Palm Sunday the Sunday before Easter. Palms symbolize the story of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. The color of the season is red, this color is used also on the Day of Pentecost and at ordinations.

Easter – White

On Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter season lasts for fifty days until Pentecost. The color for Easter is the same as Christmas.

Pentecost – Green (except when its Red)

The First Sunday of Pentecost we celebrate Trinity Sunday where we celebrate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit <insert joke about modalism>, on this day we wear red. For the rest of the season we wear Green celebrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit (much in the same as Epiphany).

Church Colors

  • WHITE, the color of Jesus’ burial garments, for Christmas, Easter, and other ‘feasts’ or festival days, as well as marriages and funerals.
  • RED is used in Holy Week, the Day of Pentecost, and at ordinations.
  • GREEN is used during Epiphany and the ‘Ordinary Time’ after Pentecost.

Source: Episcopal Church Liturgical Colors

When you open your Christmas gifts!

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