How to Understand Catholicism and the Holidays Celebrated On The Catholic Calendar
For those that are trying to understand Catholicism, there are a few traditions that have been carried on through the ages and are part of the tradition of the Catholic Church, today.
The way the Catholic Calendar is based is as a liturgical calendar that is different from today's calendar year. It revolves around the Life of Jesus Christ, which is the foremost center of Catholicism. It is divided into two parts, which is known as Celebrating Christ Our Light.
The first half of the Catholic liturgical year is formed by the holidays that are celebrated in Catholicism, which are the Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord.
During the Advent, which is the four week season that starts before Christmas, an Advent wreath bears three purple candles and one pink candle to be lit each week on the Sundays of Advent. During the Advent period, the build-up to Christmas is part of the festivities that other people enjoy, but Catholic parishes celebrate it in a more subdued fashion.
In preparation for Christmas, to celebrate the birth of Christ near the winter solstice, the priest will light a purple candle each week to countdown until the final week of Advent, when the pink candle is lit. In Catholic parishes, Christmas hymns are reserved for Christmas on December 25th to the Epiphany on January 6th, which is the date the Wise Men came bearing gifts and the celebration ends on the Sunday after Epiphany, when John the Baptist was believed to baptize Jesus.
In Catholicism, the second half of the liturgical year of Celebrating Christ Our Life includes Lent, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. Lent is the season before Easter that starts on Ash Wednesday and last 40 days until Easter.
This is the period where those that practice Catholicism are to make purification sacrifices for purifying the body and soul, so if you know Catholics that are participating in Lent sacrifices, they might give up drinking, smoking or go on a diet, for example. Typically, confession, fasting, abstinence and prayer are part of the spiritual practices that go along with Lent.
Catholicism symbolizes when Christ rose from the dead on Easter and it is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the spring equinox to symbolize when new life appears, so it floats annually for this reason.
Ascension is 40 days after Easter, to symbolize Jesus ascending to heaven and Pentecost is 50 days after Easter, which is when the 12 Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were visited by the Holy Spirit.
Essentially, those that practice Catholicism celebrate the birth, life and resurrection after the human death of Jesus Christ, and there are other symbols that are part of Catholicism, besides the religious holidays and traditions that go along with the celebrations. When you are trying to understand the Catholic liturgical calendar because you may be contemplating a conversion to Catholicism or might be trying to understand somebody that is Catholic, it is important that you realize the religious symbolism that the Catholic holidays represent.
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