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Moveable Feasts

Moveable Feasts move; around the calendar. In the liturgical or Christian calendar, there are several observances or events which fall on different dates every year. Easter Sunday is the most important moveable feast in Christianity and although it is always observed on a Sunday to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the date varies from year to year.

There are many other observances which do not have a fixed date (collectively known as moveable feasts) in the liturgical calendar and depend on the Easter calendar.

The most significant moveable feasts are observed within a fixed number of dayspreceeding or succeeding Easter Sunday.

Moveable Feasts in Eastern Christianity

The set of moveable feasts in the liturgical calendar of eastern Christianity constitutes the Paschal Cycle. Pascha is the common term used for Easter and is considered to be the original moveable feast. The dates of all the other moveable feasts observed by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church fall within a duration of approximately 10 weeks before and 7 weeks after Pascha. The Paschal Cycle can be categorized as follows:

  • Triodion (Pre-Lent)
  • Great Lent
  • Great and Holy Week
  • Holy Pascha
  • Pentecostarian or Paschaltide
Moveable Feasts in Western Christianity

In Western Christianity, like Eastern Christianity, the dates of the moveable feasts are set around Easter. The use of Gregorian calendar instead of Julian calendar (which is followed by the Orthodox Church) and a different Paschal Cycle (an 84-year cycle in contrast to a 19-year cycle) results in different sets of dates for the observations each year. Roughly, the Paschal Cycle for Western Christianity can be broken down as follows:

  • Pre Holy Week
  • Holy Week
  • Easter Week
  • Post Easter

Technically, both members of Western Christianity and members of Eastern Christianity use the same calculation (i.e., a fixed period of days) for determining the dates of the moveable feasts based on the date of Easter/Pesach. However, the rules of calculation of the Easter Calendar varies between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the system of calendar used by each.

A list of some important moveable feasts observed by Christians in different regions of the world is as follows:

  • Septuagesima – 63 days before Easter (Pre–Vatican II Calendar)
  • Saturday of Souls – 57 days before Easter (Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Greek-Catholic)
  • Sexagesima – 56 days before Easter (Pre–Vatican II Calendar)
  • Quinquagesima Sunday – 49 days before Easter (Pre–Vatican II Calendar)
  • Shrove Monday – 48 days before Easter. (Western Christianity)
  • Ash Wednesday – 46 days before Easter. (Western Christianity)
  • Triumph of Orthodoxy – 42 days before Easter (Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Greek-Catholic)
  • People's Sunday – 41 days before Easter (in Malta)
  • Mothering Sunday – 21 days before Easter (Anglicanism)
  • Passion Sunday – 14 days before Easter (Anglicanism)
  • Lazarus Saturday – 8 days before Easter (Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Greek-Catholic)
  • Palm Sunday – 7 days before Easter
  • Maundy Thursday – 3 days before Easter
  • Good Friday – 2 days before Easter
  • Holy Saturday - 1 day before Easter
  • Easter – the date around which the other moveable feast days are placed
  • Saint Gregory's Day – 3 days after Easter (in Malta)
  • The Octave of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, also known as Low Sunday or Quasimodo Sunday – the Sunday after Easter.
  • Radonitsa – 8 or 9 days after Easter (Eastern Orthodox)
  • Ascension Day – 39 days after Easter
  • Pentecost – 49 days after Easter (50th day of Easter)
  • Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday – The day following Pentecost
  • Trinity Sunday – 56 days after Easter (Western Christianity)
  • All Saints' Day – 56 days after Easter ((For Western Christianity, this day is fixed on November 1)
  • Corpus Christi – 60 days after Easter (Western Christianity)
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