The church. speaks of a 3-fold coming of Christ:[1]

  • The octave of Christmas is the Festival of the Circumcision and the Name of Jesus; it concurs with the New Year’s Day of the civil
  • In the West the festival of Epiphany, January 6, recalls the episode of the Magi*; the feast has an octave.
  • The number of Sundays in the post-Epiphany season varies with the date of Easter.

Church Year.[2]

The historic Lutheran church calendar includes the following Sundays, feasts, and other special days:
  1. Movable. Four Sundays in Advent.; Septuagesima; Sexagesima; Quinquagesima; the Sundays after the Epiphany, ending with the Transfiguration (also kept August 6); Ash Wednesday; Invocavit; Reminiscere; Oculi; Laetare; Judica; Palm Sunday; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week; Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Holy Saturday; Easter and the 2 days following; Quasimodogeniti; Misericordia(s) Domini; Jubilate; Cantate; Rogate; Ascension; Exaudi; Pent. (or Whitsunday) and the Sundays after Pent.; Trin. (and the Sundays after Trin.)
  2. Fixed. St. Andrew, November 30; St. Thomas, December 21; Christmas, December 25; St. Stephen, December 26; St. John the Evangelist and Apostle, December 27; Holy Innocents, December 28; Circumision and the Name of Jesus, January 1; Epiphany, January 6; Conversion of St. Paul, January 25; Presentation and Purification, February 2; St. Matthias, February 24; Annunciation, March 25; St. Mark, April 25; SS. Philip and James the Less May 1; Visitation, May 31 (or July 2); Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 24; SS. Peter and Paul, June 29; (Visitation, July 2 [or May 31]); St. Mary Magdalene, July 22; St. James the Elder, July 25; St. Bartholomew, August 24; St. Matthew, September 21; Michaelmas, September 29; St. Luke, October 18; SS. Simon and Jude, October 28; Reformation, October 31; All Saints, November 1.


Time of Christmas[3]

Advent Season.[4]

    The year may be divided into 6 seasons, opening with  Advent (Adv.) The early part of this season is devoted to discussion of eschatological subjects in the lessons and liturgy; in the latter part, especially on and after the 4th Sunday in Adv., the Christmas theme is prominent. The Christmas Festival, December 25 in the West, is the 1st primary festival, with 2 or 3 days at times devoted to its observance (see also Christmas). It is followed by the feasts of St. Stephen (December 26), St. John the Evangelist and Apostle (December 27), and the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem (December 28). Thus the feast of the birth of the King of martyrs is followed by the “heavenly birthdays” of the first martyr in will and in deed, the apostolic martyr in will but not in deed, and the infant martyrs in deed but not in will.
     Note: “Feast” and “festival” are synonymous in this context; both reflect the dies festus; “feasts and festivals” indicates only that both words are used in reference to certain special days other than fast days.

Christmas Seasons

     Earliest certain mention of celebration on December 25 is in the Philocalian Calendar of 354, which gives the Roman practice in 336. Commemoration of the Nativity on January 6 originated in the E and was combined (g., in Jerusalem) with commemoration of Jesus’ baptism. By the 5th c. most E chs. accepted the Roman date, though Jerusalem celebrated the Nativity January 6 till 549 or later.
     Most customs connected with Christmas are borrowed from pagan sources. The Roman Saturnalia, marking return of the sun with the practice of giving and receiving presents, as well as Yuletide customs of people of N , left their mark on the outward observance of Christmas. Possibly the use of evergreens, holly, ivy, mistletoe, and rosemary was suggested by non-Christian customs, though they soon received Christian significance. Burning the Yule log was an important part of Christmas festivities in Eng. The domestic Christmas tree first appeared in Ger. in the 16th c. From Ger. the custom carne to Eng. and Am. Festivities connected with Santa* Claus derived from Christian and pagan sources. The use of lights and bells accords well with the spirit of the festival. See also Church Year, 1, 16 B; Schwan, Heinrich Christian.
      K. Usener, Das Weihnachtsfest (Bonn, 1911); F. X. Weiser, The Christmas Book (New York, 1952); L. Fendt, “Der heutige Stand der Forschung über das Geburtsfest Jesu a.m. 25. XII. und über Epiphanias,” Theologische Literaturzeitung, LXXVIII (January 1953), columns 1–10; Celebrating Christmas Around the World, ed. H. H. Wernecke (Philadelphia, 1962); Christmas: An American Annual of Christmas Literature and Art, ed. R. E. Haugan (Minneapolis, 1931– ); W. G. Polack, “The First Christmas Tree in an American Church Service,” CHIQ, XVII, No. 1 (April 1944), 4–6.

Epiphany Season[5]

     (Greek. “manifestation”). Term applied to the birth, Baptism, appearance of the star, and similar events in Christ’s life. It is also applied to January 6, celebrated in commemoration of the visit of the Magi.
     The octave of Christmas is the Festival of the Circumcision and the Name of Jesus; it concurs with the New Year’s Day of the civil In the West the festival of Epiphany, January 6, recalls the episode of the Magi; the feast has an octave. The number of Sundays in the post-Epiphany season varies with the date of Easter.
     In the early church less stress was laid on the birthday of the Lord than on the fact that the Son of God became man (John 1:14). Accordingly we find a festival celebrating this fact as early as Clement* of Alexandria (beginning of the 3d ). The 6th of January was the accepted date for the Festival of Epiphany, or the Manifestation of the Lord, at the end of the 3d c.; it commemorated not only the birth of Christ, but also His baptism and, in some cases, His first miracle, thus expressing very well the general. idea of the revelation and manifestation of the divinity of Christ in His humanity. Para. 11.

Time of Easter[6]

Pre-Lent Season.

     The season of pre-Lent (Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, the 3 Sundays before Ash Wednesday, take their names from words indicating that they fall respectively. within 70, 60, and 50 days before Easter) partakes of some of the characteristics of Lent. Para. 2 [7]
     Septuagesima is the ninth Sunday before Easter, the third before Lent known among the Greeks as “Sunday of the Prodigal” from
the Gospel, Luke 15, which they read on this day, called also Dominica Circumdederunt by the Latins, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass. In liturgical literature the name “Septuagesima” occurs for the first time in the Gelasian Sacramentary. Why the day (or the week, or the period) has the name Septuagesima, and the next Sunday Sexagesima, etc., is a matter of dispute among writers. It is certainly not the seventieth day before Easter, still less is the next Sunday the sixtieth, fiftieth, etc. Amularius, “De eccl. Off.”, I, I, would make the Septuagesima mystically represent the Babylonian Captivity of seventy years, would have it begin with this Sunday on which the Sacramentaries and Antiphonaries give the Introit “Circumdederunt me undique” and end with the Saturday after Easter, when the Church sings “Eduxit Dominus populum suum.” Perhaps the word is only one of a numerical series: Quadragesima, Quinquagesima, etc. Again, it may simply denote the earliest day on which some Christians began the forty days of Lent, excluding Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from the observance of the fast.
     Septuagesima is today inaugurated in the Roman Martyrology by the words: “Septuagesima Sunday, on which the canticle of the Lord, Alleluja, ceases to be said”. On the Saturday preceding, the Roman Breviary notes that after the “Benedicamus” of Vespers two Alleluias are to be added, that thenceforth it is to be omitted till Easter, and in its place “Laus tibi Domine” is to be said at the beginning of the Office. Formerly the farewell to the Alleluia was quite solemn. In an Antiphonary of the Church of St. Cornelius at Compiègne we find two special antiphons. Spain had a short Office consisting of a hymn, chapter, antiphon, and sequence. Missals in Germany up to the fifteenth century had a beautiful sequence. In French churches they sang the hymn “Alleluia, dulce carmen” (Guéranger, IV, 14) which was well-known among the Anglo-Saxons (Rock, IV, 69). The “Te Deum” is not recited at Matins, except on feasts. The lessons of the first Nocturn are taken from Genesis, relating the fall and subsequent misery of man and thus giving a fit preparation for the Lenten season. In the Mass of Sunday and ferias the Gloria in Excelsis is entirely omitted. In all Masses a Tract is added to the Gradual.
     1. The 40 days of Lent (Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, excluding Sundays);
     2. Ancient name of the 1st Sunday in Lent (with preceding Sundays named by analogy: Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, Septuagesima);
     3. The 40th day after Easter: Ascension (cf. Acts 1:3). [8]
     The period of fifty days before Easter. It begins with the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, called Dominica in Quinquagesima or Esto Mihi from the beginning of the Introit of the Mass; it is a Sunday of the second class, and the colour the Mass and Office is violet.
     For many early Christians it was the beginning of the fast before Easter, hence called, as with the Syrians, ingressus jejunii. For some, Quinquagesima marked the time after which meat was forbidden and was therefore called Dom. carnis privium, ad carnes tollendas, carnevala; by the Poles, Ned. zapustna. Since these regulations affected mainly the clergy, we find the name carnis privium sacerdotum and in Germany herren fastnacht. Where abstinence from meat began earlier, this Sunday introduced the time in which neither milk nor eggs etc, (ova et lacticinia) were allowed, hence called by the Greeks Dom. cesei comestrix et ovorum; Melchites, sublationis ovorum et casei; Austrians, Käse- or Milchfaschingsonntag, Sonntag in der Butterwoche; Italians, de’latticini; and Serbians, bele poklade (white meats). The Slavs name it Ned. III. predpepelnicna, i.e. the third Sunday before Ash Wednesday; Bohemians, Ned. II po devitniku, i.e. the second Sunday after the ninth before Easter. In many places this Sunday after and the next
two days were used to prepare for Lent by a good confession; hence in England we find the names Shrove Sunday and Shrovetide.
     As the days before Lent were frequently spent in merry-making, Benedict XIV by the Constitution “Inter Cetera” (1 Jan., 1748) introduced a kind of Forty Hours’ Devotion to keep the faithful from dangerous amusements and to make some reparation for sins

Lenten Season

Holy Week


Time of the Church

The Season After Pentecost





[3] Lutheran Service Book, CPH, p. x-xi.

[4], para. 1.


[6]  Paragraph 3.



Source:  LCMS Cyclopedia 

The Time of Easter

Easter 2019 and Its Season

The Easter Season begins with evening prayer on Holy Saturday (20 April 2019) and ends with midday prayer on Pentecost (9 June 2019).
     Easter is not merely a one-day celebration; it is a fifty-day season from Easter to Pentecost.  This extended season – one seventh of the year – is a victory celebration, a time for all Christians to proclaim boldly their faith in the risen and victorious Savior.
     The first celebration of Easter is the Easter Vigil, the evening of Holy Saturday.  The Vigil includes a service of light, in which the fire symbolizes Jesus as the light of the world.  The service is designed to take the Christian from the solemnity of Good Friday to the predawn joy of Easter.
     Easter is the richest and most lavishly celebrated festival of the Church Year.  Congregations may hold a sunrise service, commemorating the surprise of the women visiting the empty tomb of Christ, as well as services that celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  While not as lavish, this joyous and celebratory tone echoes down through the Sundays of the Easter season.
     Forty days after Easter, the Church celebrates the Ascension of Our Lord, who ascended into heaven not only as God but also as man.  The final Sunday of the Easter Season, celebrated as Pentecost, was adopted by early Christians to commemorate the first great harvest of believers for Christ.  Thus, Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church, as the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they gave their compelling witness about the resurrected Lord.  The color for the Day of Pentecost is red, representing the fire and blood.  Red recalls the many tongues of fire ont he first Pentecost and the martyrs who shed their blood for the faith.
During Easter, we rejoice in our salvation.
     Mathew 28.
     Luke 24.
     John 12: 24 – 25; 20: 1 – 29; 21: 1 – 14.
     Acts 1: 6 – 11; 2: 1 – 4.
Easter practices and traditions.
     The colors of Easter are white and gold.  White, the color of our Lord’s holiness, is everywhere on Easter, from the paraments and vestments tot he traditional Easter lilies.  God decorations remind us that our resurrection life in Christ is precious and eternal.
     After a long absence in Lent, Alleluia, returns at Easter and is heard everywhere in the propers appointed for the weeks after Easter.  Also, the joyous Hymn of Praise and the Gloria Patri return and are sung as part of the liturgy once again.
     During the Easter season, we greet one another with a special Easter greeting and response: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” ” He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!
Source:  Pastoral Desk Diary 2019, Saint Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 2018.