The liturgical Church year revolves around the life of Christ. Each “season” celebrates a specific part of Jesus’ life. During these seasons, the church displays certain colors and symbols to help us reflect on the meaning of the season.
The four-week (four Sundays) period prior to Christmas is spent in preparation for the coming of the Christ child. The church displays colors of blue representing penitence and royalty. Some symbols on display would be an Advent wreath, an empty throne, and/or a rising sun. The Advent wreath candles represent 1-Hope, 2-Peace, 3-Joy, 4-Love, and the large central candle represents Christ.
The twelve days from December 25 until the Epiphany, January 6, celebrate Jesus’ birth. The church colors will be white for purity, joy, and glory. Some of the church symbols displayed are a manger/crib, star, crook/candy cane, and Christmas trees.
The twelfth day of Christmas, January 6, celebrates the revealing of Jesus as the Christ to the Magi (Wise Men.) The season is many times grouped with the Christmas season. The church colors will be white for purity, joy, and glory. The symbols may include a five-pointed star, three crowns, and three gifts.
Season after Epiphany
During the first season of Ordinary Time, churches focus on mission outreach and the early days of Jesus’ ministry. This season lasts until Ash Wednesday. You will find the church in green colors representing life, growth and hope. The symbols about the church may be a descending dove, a seven-fold flame, and/or seven lamps, all representing the Holy Spirit.
The forty days and six Sundays prior to Easter begin on Ash Wednesday and end on Holy Saturday. Lent is a time to reflect on Jesus’ great sacrifice and prepare for the celebration of His resurrection. The church will be decorated in purple for sorrow, penitence, and preparation.
This is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The date is determined as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox. It will fall between March 23 - April 22. The season lasts for 50 days. The church will be decorated in white for joy, purity, and glory. Symbols about the church might be an empty cross, lily, or a butterfly.
The fiftieth day after Easter is the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Church Universal. We celebrate the Holy Spirit descending upon the faithful and many persons converting to the Christian Faith. The church color will be red with symbols of flame, and/or tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit.
Season after Pentecost
During this second season of Ordinary Time, we focus on the growth of the church as the Body of Christ - a community of faith. The season lasts until Advent. The church will be decorated in green for life, growth, and hope. The symbols we might see are of the Trinity and flames.