Catholic Classroom: The Easter Season
Question: How long does the Easter season last?
Easter is the most important liturgical season in the Church’s calendar. Logistically, it can also be the most confusing. Between the Octave of Easter and the feast days we celebrate during the season, it can be challenging to remember what exactly we are celebrating, and when. In total, the Easter season lasts fifty days, from Easter Sunday up to and including Pentecost. Here is a breakdown of the Easter season:
- The Octave of Easter – The Octave of Easter is celebrated for each of the eight days from Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday. During the Octave, every day is celebrated as a solemnity. This helps to remind us of the enormous, extraordinary importance of the Resurrection.
- The weeks of Easter – After Divine Mercy Sunday, we continue celebrating the liturgical season of Easter. During this season, in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, we put a special emphasis on the proclamation of praise to God in the word “Alleluia!” The priest wears white vestments at Mass, and many of the Mass readings come from the early days of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles.
- Ascension Thursday – Toward the end of the Easter season—40 days after Easter Sunday—we celebrate Ascension Thursday (which is transferred to the following Sunday in some dioceses). On this feast, we celebrate Jesus’ ascension into heaven to go to the Father after the Resurrection.
- Pentecost – The final day of Easter is Pentecost, the day we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church and the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send us an Advocate. With Pentecost, we renew our commitment to go out and proclaim the Gospel throughout the whole year, just as the first disciples did.