The Lutheran Church Year is based on the two major events in the life of Christ: His birth and His resurrection.
Christmas, the birth of Christ is always the 25th of December.
Four Sundays before the new Church Year begins. The Sundays are called 1st , 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sunday in Advent. In Year 2000 the Church year began the December 3, in Year 2001 on December 2, and in Year 2002 on December 1.
The 26th of December is St. Stefanus Day (in remembrance of the first Christian martyr: Stefanus) or 2nd Day of Christmas.
New Year's Day (the Namegiving of Christ) is always 8 days after Christmas: The 1st of January.
The 6th of January is Epiphany (where the 3 Holy Kings visited Jesus), not a holiday anymore but important for naming the next Sundays.
Between Christmas and Epiphany is a normally a Sunday: named Sunday after Christmas or Sunday after New Year.
Now we have a gap in time. We have to find out, when it is Easter, because the rest of the calendar depends on that.
Easter (the Resurrection of Christ) is related to the full moon, as it is Easter the first Sunday after full moon after vernal equinox (or as I say in private after Bach's birthday!).
When Easter is placed, every other event can be placed after a firm schedule.
First the Lent - the last 40 days before Easter (Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. In the Lutheran Church this has not the same importance as in the Catholic Church, where the members for example don't eat meat for 40 days and big carnivals (Goodbye to Meat!) are taking place in the days just before Lent, as for example in Rio or Venice. At Bach's time instrumental music was not allowed in the church during Lent with a few exceptions: The Passions.
Now we count back from Easter till we reach Epiphany:
Good Friday where Jesus was crucified is the last Friday before Easter Sunday.
We pass Palm Sunday one week before Easter, 5 Sundays in Lent and reach Estomihi the last Sunday before the Lent begins.
Going backwards again - passing Sexagesima and Septuagesima we now look back to Epiphany counting the remaining Sundays. There are maximum 6. They are simply named 1st Sunday after Epiphany and so on till the gap is closed.
That was the worst part of the maneuver! We go back to Easter again. Monday after Easter Sunday is a holiday too (Second Day of Easter). At Bach's time there was a Third Day of Easter too but no more.
There are 6 Sundays before we reach Whit, where the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples and the Church was founded. The names of the Sundays are: Quasimodogeniti, Misericordias Domini, Jubilate, Cantate, Rogate and Exaudi.
Thursday between Rogate and Exaudi is Ascension (40 days after Easter where Jesus ascended to Heaven).
Whit had in Bach's time like Christmas and Easter 3 Holidays.
The Sunday after Whit is Trinity, and now comes the easiest part of it all.
You simply name them 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sunday after Trinity until there are four Sundays left before the 25th of December.
Voila! Are you confused? I might have forgotten some specialities, but if you have tried it a few times, it is really very easy.
May 16, 2000
Copyright © Jane Newble, Marie Jensen, and Aryeh Oron, 2000-2010
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