Church Seasons and Their Colors

The Episcopal Church takes part in the ancient Christian tradition of following set forms of rhythm for our worship and for our church year. The Church uses a myriad of symbols as a way to tell our faith story. One way we recognize the different seasons in the church year is by the color of some of our altar hangings and priests’ vestments.

Our church year begins in Advent, and traditionally purple – which represents penitence or expectation – or blue, which represents Mary, is used as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas season is celebrated using white (or sometimes gold), which symbolizes joy, purity, and truth. The day of the Epiphany is celebrated using white as well, but the rest of the Epiphany season is celebrated in green, representing the color of all living things and God’s creation.

Lent moves back to purple as we prepare for Easter, and the entire Easter season is celebrated in white. Red, the color of fire and blood, is the color for the day of Pentecost. The rest of the church year after Pentecost (called the “great, green, growing Sundays” by Jerome Berryman in “Godly Play”) is celebrated in green.

White is usually the color for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Red is used for Palm Sunday, feasts of the martyrs, ordination, and sometimes for confirmation. Black is used for Good Friday and occasionally for funerals.