A feast day (or festival) is the date a saint, a holy event, or a holy object is commemorated in the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church. A feast day is primarily celebrated through the hymnography of the Church's divine services appointed to be celebrated on such day. Sometimes the feast day commemoration involves a day of strict fasting.
The Orthodox Church commemorates certain saints or sacred events in its history every day of the year. The feast day of a saint is generally the date of his or her death.
Feasts of the Orthodox Church
The feasts of the Orthodox Church, as with the canonization of saints, always comes from the living devotion of the Christian people. Feast days of the Church are not "institutions" which are legislated by some ecclesiastical authority apart from the interest and consent of the people. If there were no popular interest and veneration of a certain holy person, there would be no official canonization and no liturgical festival established in their honor.
However, if a someone is recognized as a saint, the Church hierarchy will set the day of the feast and will compose the proper liturgical service and hymns to be used in the celebration. But the celebration will then depend solely upon the will of the faithful. Once established, the feast could only disappear organically, in a way similar to its appearance. It could not be "disestablished" by the decree of any church authority, only by lack of practice.
Entire Orthodox Church
As a whole, the Church celebrates the Twelve Great Feasts Days and a number of other feast days with special liturgical and spiritual solemnity. Some preceded by prescribed fasting periods.
Universally celebrated by all the Orthodox are the feasts of Saint John the Baptist. Also, The Circumcision of Christ January 1, The Three Great Hierarchs January 30, The Protecting Veil of the Mother of God October 1, and All Saints the First Sunday after Pentecost.
The feast days of each of the apostles are also celebrated by the entire Orthodox Church, above all, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29.
Among the feast days of other saints universally celebrated by all the Orthodox are:
- Saint Nicholas, December 6
- Saint George, April 23
- Prophet Elias, July 20
- Archangel Michael, November 8
- Saint Basil the Great, January 1
- Saint John Chrysostom, November 13
- Saint Gregory the Theologian, January 25
Some feast days are celebrated locally by churches in particular regions, such as:
- In the Greek Church:
- In the Russian Church:
- Saint Sergius, September 25
- Saint Seraphim, January 2
- Saint Tikhon, August 13
- Saint Vladimir
- In the American Church:
Local feast days
Certain cities or monasteries have liturgical celebrations of holy persons, events, or icons appropriate to their own particular needs. Although a feast day may be very local, it is still a feast of the entire Church.
- The Lives of the Saints (OCA)
- Orthodox Calendar and Search for Saints and Feasts (GOARCH)
- Complete List of Saints (ROCOR - Protection of the Mother of God Church, Rochester, New York)
- The Prologue from Ochrid (Serbian Orthodox Church - Diocese of Western America)
- Lives of the Saints (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia)
- God is Wonderful in His Saints - John Brady
- Saint of the Day (Roman Catholic - Church of Saint Patrick, Washington, DC)