THE CATHOLIC LECTIONARY WEBSITE
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

An Introduction to the Christian Liturgical Year

Calendars are much more complex than you might think! Throughout human history, and still today, different cultures have used very different calendars, with “years” of different lengths, different starting dates (“New Year”), and different subdivisions (“weeks”; “months”; “seasons”; etc.). Moreover, due to astronomical irregularities and mathematical complexities, no human calendar is perfectly consistent; all calendars require certain variations and adaptations.

Astronomical Foundations:

Three Main Types of Calendars:

Due to these astronomical irregularities in our solar system, it is difficult to fit lunar months and solar years together. Thus, there are three main choices for constructing calendars:

  1. Lunar:
  2. Solar:
  3. Luni-solar: mixed lunar & solar calendars, with some features based on the moon and others based on the sun!

Comparing Various Calendars:

Further Variations in Calendars:

Major Seasons of the Liturgical Year

Liturgical Colors:

Categories of Special Masses and Liturgies:


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