Every culture develops unique calendars to mark important moments in the story that is supposed to shape its members. Considering holidays in America, our calendar teaches us to honor pilgrims, patriots and presidents because they cultivate in us a love of freedom. As the archetypal community, the church has a calendar that transcends all national borders and linguistic barriers.
The church calendar is organized around two primary cycles, between which is “ordinary time.” The incarnational cycle centers around the birth of Jesus, beginning with Advent, climaxing at Christmas and ending with the celebration of Jesus’ baptism on the Sunday following Epiphany. The paschal cycle centers around the death and resurrection of Jesus and is the more important of the two cycles (for there would be no celebration of Christmas were it not for Easter). The paschal cycle includes the season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter, ending with Pentecost.