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Holy Days of Obligation


Holy Days of Obligation

Holy Days of Obligation are also known as Holidays of Obligation or sometimes even Feasts of Precept. The Catholic Church currently has ten Holy Days of Obligation, which are listed in Canon 1246 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. These ten Holy Days of Obligation apply to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church; the Eastern Rites have their own Holy Days of Obligation. Holy Days of Obligation are days other than Sundays on which Catholics are required to participate in the Mass, our primary form of worship. (Any feast celebrated on a Sunday, such as Easter, falls under our normal Sunday Duty and thus isn't included in a list of Holy Days of Obligation.) Sundays are always holy days, but there are several other holy days throughout the year during which the faithful Catholic followers have an obligation to attend and participate in Mass. On those special days, Catholic individuals should also abstain from work and other affairs that hinder the worship of God. The days are meant to relax the mind and body and observe the Lord. The number of holy days used to be much greater. The dates have been reduced from the original 36. The present list was first established in 1917 and remains in place today.


All Saints Day

All Saints' Day is officially called the Solemnity of All Saints. It has also been called All Hallows over the years. Western Christians celebrate it on The first of November and Eastern Church celebrates it the first Sunday after Christianity. All Saints Day is meant to honor all of the saints, including those who may be unknown. On the western calendar, the event takes place the day after Halloween and just one day before All Souls Day. All Saints Day is a very old celebration. It first arose out of the Christian desire to celebrate the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their deaths. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day so that all martyrs, named and unnamed, were honored in the proper manner. The practice took off and eventually spread to the universal Church. All Saints Day is even a national holiday in some countries that are historically Catholic. The term 'saint' means different things to different denominations. In the Methodist Church, for example, a saint is any Christian. On All Saints Day, the entire church is honored.

Holy Day of Christmas

The word 'Christmas' comes by combining Christ with Mass. It is also known as the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christmas is the very last holy day of obligation in the year, and the second most importance date in the liturgical calendar, just after Easter. Christmas is observed on December 25th to celebrate the birth of Christ. The exact birthday of the messiah is not know, though historians who have done studies believe his year of birth was somewhere between 7 and 2 BC. Narratives of his birth are in two of the four gospels in the New Testament. The Christmas date could have initially been picked to go along with the date on which Christians believe Jesus was conceived. They then counted nine months after this date and placed Christmas at that time. The date also corresponds with a popular Roman winter solstice festival, one of the many various ancient winter festivals. Christmas is one of the most important Christian holidays and though it is normally thought of as having Christian connections, it is also celebrated by large numbers of non-Christians throughout the world. Many of the customs have themes that are pre-Christian or even secular in origin.


Eastern Churches sui iuris

In the Eastern Catholic Churches, besides Sunday, the following are Holy Days: Christmas, Epiphany (Jan. 6), Ascension, Dormition (Aug. 15) and Apostles Peter and Paul (Jun. 29). Like the Code of Canon Law, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches provides that each Eastern Church may have particular law Holy Days and also, with the approval of the Holy See, suppress some on the universal list.