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Feast Day

Feast Day History, Customs, Traditions and Images

A feast day is any day set aside for a religious or other celebration. In the Christian tradition, feast days are usually oriented around holy people, like Jesus or the saints. However, a feast day may also commemorate an event, such as Christmas Day, the birth of Jesus. In the early Church, the most important feast was Easter. Today, Easter remains very important, and every Sunday is considered a feast day of sorts.

Christmas bulbIn the Catholic Church, feast days are ranked according to their importance. Solemnities are the most important (typically commemorating Jesus or Mary), followed by feasts, obligatory memorials, and optional memorials. Some festivals are celebrated locally (e.g. a village saint) while the general calendar (which most Catholic churches follow) celebrates the men and women of great faith who impacted the entire Church.

Many Protestant Churches have embraced the Church year and some, like Lutherans and Anglicans (Episcopal), and have an elaborate calendar that honors holy people, even if their beliefs are different.

The most important point of a feast day is that they're meant to be celebrations, especially solemnities. This explains why Sunday (a solemnity) is exempt from Lenten fasting regulations. Because of the emphasis on joy and celebration, feast days are sometimes preceded by a fast (or several fast days) in the Church calendar.


Last updated 09-09-2016

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