What are the seasons of the Christian calendar?
Early in its history, the Church divided the year into liturgical seasons based on the life and ministry of Jesus.
Advent, starting four weeks before Christmas, tells of the coming (or advent) of Jesus.
Christmas tells of his birth.
Epiphany starts with the Manifestation to the Gentiles—when three wise men from the Orient came to see the baby Jesus—and proceeds through key moments in Jesus’s life.
The forty days of Lent—calling to mind the Hebrews’ 40 years of wilderness wandering, and Jesus’s 40 days of testing in the wilderness—are a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for baptism.
Lent leads up to Holy Week and the death of Jesus.
Easter tells of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, his appearance to certain disciples, and his ascension to God.
The season of Pentecost begins with the Day of Pentecost (concerning the gift of the Holy Spirit) and is basically a teaching season.
Each liturgical season is grounded in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s life. Old Testament readings and passages from the Epistles are read in worship, as well.
In liturgical churches like the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopal, each season has certain special days, special music and special ways of preparing the worship space.