Christianity: Protestant

Key Dates and Events

Primary Author
Chara Scroope,

Epiphany

(6th of January)

Epiphany is a Christian holiday that marks two occasions during which Jesus’ divinity manifested. The first is when the three kings (also known as the ‘three wise men’ or ‘Magi’) visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The second is when Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. Catholic and Protestant traditions emphasise the visit of the wise men during their celebrations while churches focus on Jesus’ baptism. The holiday also marks the Christian season between Christmas and Lent.

Lent

(40 days prior to Easter)

Lent is a Christian event that takes place 40 days before Easter. The event usually begins on Ash Wednesday depending on the denomination. Lent is meant to be a time of reflection and preparation before Easter. It lasts 40 days to replicate Jesus’ sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Common activities during Lent include fasting, prayer, penance and contemplation. The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week.

Palm Sunday

(The Sunday before Easter Sunday)

Palm Sunday is a Christian holiday that marks the beginning of Holy Week. Church services may spend this time reflecting on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. It is also a time that many remember Jesus’ suffering leading up to his crucifixion. In some parts of the world, palms or other plant branches are distributed to the congregation.

Good Friday 

(The Friday before Easter Sunday)

Good Friday is a Christian holiday during the sombre event of Holy Week. The date commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Some churches refer to the day as Great Friday, Black Friday, Long Friday or Sorrowful Friday. It is a sombre time of reflection and prayer. Many Christian denominations hold church services around midday to acknowledge the hours when Jesus hung on the cross. 

Easter Sunday

(Varies each year, typically in late March - late April)

Easter Sunday is a Christian holiday during the solemn event of Holy Week. The date commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from death by crucifixion. Throughout Holy Week, especially Easter Sunday, attention is focused on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ final days. The liturgies or ceremonies held throughout the week often attract some of the biggest attendance in the year. It is considered to be a day of joy and celebration to honour the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead. Protestant traditions typically set the date of Easter according to the Gregorian calendar.

Ascension

(39 days after Easter Sunday)

Ascension is a Christian holiday that marks Jesus’ departure from earth into heaven after his resurrection. It is one of the earliest observed celebrations in Christianity. Ascension also marks the end of the Easter period. 

Pentecost

(The 7th Sunday after Easter)

Pentecost is a Christian holiday that commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus. At this time, the apostles received the “gift of tongues”, the ability to speak in another language. In many parts of the world, Pentecost has become a common day for baptisms to occur. Many churches celebrate Pentecost with a mass or worship service. Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday or Whit Sunday in different Christian traditions.

All Saints’ Day

(1st of November)

All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, is a Christian holiday that celebrates all Christian saints, particularly those who have no special feast days. Saints are those women and men recognised for their lives of devotion to God or who were for their faith. It is typically celebrated on the 1st of November in Western churches, whilst Eastern churches usually celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. In some parts of the world, All Saints’ Day is a day to pay respect to one’s deceased relatives. 

First Sunday of Advent

(Date varies each year, typically last week of November to first week of December)

The First Sunday of Advent is a Christian holiday that marks the beginning of the Christian year in Western Christianity. The length of Advent varies from 22 to 28 days depending on the Christian tradition. The end of Advent is Christmas day. Preparation for Christmas is an important theme for Advent. The time was originally dedicated to reflection and preparation for Christmas. 

Christmas

(25th of December)

Christmas is a Christian holiday that commemorates the birth of Jesus, who Christians believe is the son of God. The nativity of Jesus is considered to be one of the most important dates for Christians. A special Mass or church service is held in various churches throughout the world. Christians from different cultures celebrate Christmas Day in different ways.


In the English-speaking West, a common practice and idea associated with Christmas is the figure of the gift-giving man named Santa Claus. This idea originated from Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children and gift giver. People often exchange gifts on Christmas day or on the eve of Saint Nicholas’ day. In some traditions, it is common to celebrate the event during the night of Christmas Eve. 


Catholic and Protestant traditions typically set the date of Jesus according to the Gregorian calendar (25th of December) while Eastern Catholic Churches and Eastern Churches calculate the date according to the Julian calendar (7th of January).

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