The liturgical calendar divides the year into six seasons, with each season having a color associated with it. The colors symbolize moods and emotions that correspond to the meaning of each season. Knowing the colors and seasons of the liturgical calendar can help you follow the flow of the church year and connect more deeply to the spiritual themes of each season.
Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. During Advent, we spiritually prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ – both as the incarnate Savior whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, and as the triumphant King who will return at the end of time. The mood of Advent is expectant hope and anticipation. The liturgical color for Advent is violet or blue.
|Advent||Violet or Blue||4 Sundays before Christmas|
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God as a human being. The mood is joyous and celebratory. The liturgical color for Christmas is white or gold.
|Christmas||White or Gold||December 25 to January 5|
Ordinary Time makes up the majority of the liturgical year. It focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The mood is variable. The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green.
|Ordinary Time||Green||33-34 weeks total between Christmas and Lent|
Lent is a 40-day period of prayer, fasting and self-examination in preparation for Easter. The mood is penitential and sacrificial. The liturgical color for Lent is violet.
|Lent||Violet||40 days before Easter|
Holy Week commemorates the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It runs from Palm Sunday to Easter. The mood progresses from joyful triumph to somber reflection. The liturgical color for Holy Week is red.
|Holy Week||Red||Week before Easter|
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his victory over sin and death. The mood is joyful celebration. The liturgical color for Easter is white or gold.
|Easter||White or Gold||40 days after Easter Sunday|
Following this cycle of seasons and colors each year is a powerful way to tune your spiritual life into the rhythms of God’s story of salvation. The colors provide visual cues that add fuller meaning to worship and meditation. Immersing yourself in the mood of each season can help strengthen your faith and enrich your relationship with God.
Here are some key points about the liturgical calendar’s six seasons and colors:
- Advent – Violet or Blue – Preparation for Christ’s coming
- Christmas – White or Gold – Celebration of Christ’s birth
- Ordinary Time – Green – Life and ministry of Christ
- Lent – Violet – Penitence and preparation for Easter
- Holy Week – Red – Christ’s passion and death
- Easter – White or Gold – Resurrection and new life
Following the flow of the liturgical year deepens our connection to the Gospel story. The colors help create an immersive spiritual experience that engages our senses and emotions. Appreciating the colors associated with each season enriches our worship and allows us to fully inhabit the journey of faith.