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Liturgical colours

From Academic Kids

Liturgical colours are colours of vestments and church decorations within a Christian liturgy. The symbolism of purple, white, green, red, gold, black, and rose may serve to underline moods appropriate to a season of the liturgical year or may highlight a special occasion.

Roman Catholicism

Generally, in the Roman Catholic Church,

  • green, symbolizing life, growth and hope, is worn during Ordinary Time;
  • violet or purple, symbolizing penance and expiation, is worn during Advent and Lent, in Masses for the Dead and Funeral Masses, and formerly on days of fasting such as Ember days and Rogation days;
  • white or gold, symbolizing purity, holiness, joy, innocence and triumph, is worn during the Christmas and Easter seasons (including the Easter Triduum, except for Good Friday), on feasts of Our Lady, on feasts of the Angels, on feasts of all saints who were not martyrs, on a holy day of obligation (gold gaining increasing popularity in recent years), and may also be used for Funeral Masses (expressing the hope of the Resurrection, especially in the funerals of children);
  • red, symbolizing fire and blood, is worn at Pentecost (to remind the faithful of the tongues of fire which descended on the apostles), on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, on feasts of the Holy Cross, on the feasts of saints who were also martyrs, and on feasts consecrated to the Holy Spirit;
  • rose or pink, expressive of joy that half a penitential season is over, is authorised only on the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) as an alternative to violet. It is, however, not compulsory.
  • Black, symbolizing mourning, though still included as one of the church's liturgical colours, has fallen out of fashion/use, but may still be worn on All Souls Day and in Masses for the Dead.

In addition to the general rules, there are some exceptions.

  • Blue, a colour associated with the Virgin Mary, is allowed for the feast of the Immaculate Conception in some dioceses on Spain, Mexico and South America. In some places, there is an unauthorized use of blue for all feasts of the Virgin Mary. In the Philippines,
  • white or gold may be used from the 16th to the 24th December, when celebrating a traditional novena. This Spanish custom was abolished in the 1950s, but through an error, it was only abolished in Spain, and therefore remains licit and common in the Philippines. Further, if not enough vestments of the proper color are available (particularly in concelebrations), white may always be substituted.

Protestantism/Anglicanism

Some Protestant denominations use a colour scheme which changes with the various seasons, and some do not; among those that do, practices resemble those that are observed by the Roman Catholic Church, except that in many Protestant churches, particularly those with Anglican origins, blue rather than purple is used during Advent, and crimson is used during Holy Week (formerly in the last two weeks before Easter). Some churches replace purple during Lent (except Holy Week) with a Lenten array consisting of unbleached muslin cloth (varying in colour but usually ranging from off-white to beige) with accents of crimson or black. These variations in colour compared to the Roman Catholic use originated in the medieveal Sarum Rite, which was practiced in England. Churches also often use black on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday of Lent.

Eastern Orthodoxy

The Eastern Orthodox church does not have a universal system of colours, but only specifies "light" or "dark" vestments in the service books. However, Slavic-use churches and others influenced by Latin Catholicism have adopted a cycle of liturgical colours: white is used for Pascha, Christmas, and Theophany (in some areas bright red is used for Pascha); purple for weekends and black for weekdays in Lent; green for Pentecost and feasts of the Holy Cross; blue for feasts of the Theotokos; red for feasts of martyrs and for the Nativity fast; and gold as the default.de:Liturgische Farben nl:Liturgische kleuren

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