Church holidays

Church holidays. Days set aside by the church for celebrating various events from the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. The main holidays are known as praznyky, from the Church Slavonic praznyk (day free from labor), and the faithful are obliged to desist from work on such days. For each holiday the church has a special service (chynoposlidovannia), which is described in the book of rules for church services—the Typikon. The most important holiday in the Ukrainian churches is Easter (Resurrection of Christ). Next is Christmas (25 December), followed by Epiphany (6 January), Christ’s presentation at the Temple (2 February), Annunciation (25 March), Christ's entrance into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), Ascension (40 days after Easter), Pentecost or Sunday of the Trinity, Transfiguration (6 August), Dormition of the Virgin Mary (15 August), Nativity of the Virgin Mary (8 September), Elevation of the Cross (14 September), and Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple (21 November). Easter Sunday does not have a set date, but changes every year to fall on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or right after the spring equinox. In the Eastern rite church a slightly different calculation is followed, resulting in Easter coinciding or falling one, four, or five weeks later. The dates of the other movable feasts depend on the date of Easter. The Ukrainian Catholic church has a special movable feast, the Feast of the Holy Eucharist (second Sunday after Pentecost). Individual parishes celebrate feasts in honor of the saint or event to which the local church is dedicated. In the Ukrainian Catholic church the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (9 December) is a major holiday. There are also holidays connected with local saints or with historical events, such as the feasts of Saint Volodymyr (15 July) and of Saint Mary the Protectress (1 October). In Ukraine the feasts are celebrated according to the Julian (old style) calendar. Some Ukrainian communities abroad, however, now celebrate according to the Gregorian (new style) calendar.

Church holidays sometimes coincide with folk feasts; thus, the winter cycle of feasts coincides with Christmas and Epiphany, and the spring cycle with Easter (see Folk calendar and Folk customs and rites).

Ivan Korovytsky, Mykhailo Vavryk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]




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