Festivals have an important role in helping Christians remember the major events in their faith and participate in public worship.
The Christian calendar has two main seasons:
- Advent, Christmas & Epiphany
- Lent, Easter & Pentecost
These two seasons allow a believer to live through the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. God became human in the person of Christ. In the UK Christmas is celebrated on 25th December. Trees and homes are decorated with lights and nativity scenes. Lights represent the Jesus as the light of the world coming into darkness. He was born into poverty and represents the hope that Christianity can give to all mankind. Many churches hold carol services and children act out nativity plays. Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a crucial part of the celebrations. Christians will send cards and exchange gifts, which recall the wise men’s gifts to Jesus. It is seen as a time of peace and goodwill.
The importance of Christmas as a Christian festival is stressed as it is a national holiday.
How does the celebration of Christmas influence a Christian today?
- Christians will try to be thankful for what they have and also be kind to those in need as Jesus’ life was a gift to the world and throughout his life he supported the weak, poor and vulnerable
- Many Christians will set up shelters, host meals and give out hampers/gifts to the poor and needy
- Christmas gives Christians hope. Jesus’ birth represented hope that a relationship between God and mankind could be reestablished following Adam and Eve’s disobedience.
Easter is the most important Christian festival. It remembers the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday. Each day remembers the events that led to Jesus’ death, his actual death and then resurrection.
- Palm Sunday – Jesus comes to Jerusalem
- Maundy Thursday – The Last Supper & Jesus’ arrest
- Good Friday – Jesus’ crucifixion and death
- Easter Sunday – Jesus resurrection from the dead
Special church services run throughout the week and believers move from great sadness to great joy knowing that Jesus’ death on the cross has rebuilt the relationship between God and mankind. Believers may give out palm crosses to mark Palm Sunday. Non-Christians may also celebrate Easter by sending cards, chocolate eggs or gifts.
How does the celebration of Easter influence a Christian today?
- Makes them thankful for the greatest sacrifice of all time. Jesus’ death on the cross cleanses the sins of mankind
- Gives Christians hope for the future. Eggs are often eaten and this represents new life