Christian Holidays And Observances In 2024
For many of us, holidays are the best thing. We get to spend time with our friends and families and take a break from work. But for some of us, holidays are a day to celebrate our cultural and religious roots. Every culture has special religious holidays, and if you are a Christian, the holidays are all about celebrating your faith.
Most Christian holidays are about the life and death of Jesus Christ. Holidays that celebrate the event in the life of Jesus Christ are known as feast days, whereas days when Christians focus on repentance and self-examination are known as fast days. These are the major Christian holidays and observances in 2024.
To Celebrate: The day the three wise men learned about God in the human form of Jesus Christ.
Date Celebrated: January 6, 2024/ Saturday
We celebrate Epiphany 12 days after Christmas. While most of us are ready to move on from Christmas and busy packing away our decorations, it is a holiday with profound meaning. Epiphany means “to reveal” in Greek. According to Christianity, it is a day commemorating the revelation of Jesus Christ.
A star and God led the three wise men to visit Jesus Christ with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These men recognized him as a king and savior and revered him. Since it was the day that the wise men visited Jesus with gifts, in some cultures, people open their Christmas presents on Epiphany.
2. Ash Wednesday/Lent
To Celebrate: The day Jesus Christ defeated temptations
Date Celebrated: February 14, 2024/ Wednesday
Ash Wednesday falls 46 days before Easter and is always the beginning of Lent. Lent is 40 days long, excluding Sundays. According to traditions, Lent was a period when Jesus Christ fasted in the wilderness for 40 days to fight off temptations from Satan.
Christians commemorate this day by fasting as well. During this period, people also mark a cross from ashes on their foreheads. In the Old Testament, ashes are a symbol of death and repentance. It is a day to remind humans they are mortal and limited and, therefore, must rely on God for everything.
3. St Patrick's Day
To Celebrate: The day Saint Patrick evangelized Ireland in the 5th century
Date Celebrated: March 17, 2024/ Sunday
While Ash Wednesday is a solemn affair, St Patrick’s Day is the opposite. St Patrick’s Day was first recognized as religious holiday in 1631. During this celebration, there are parades everywhere, copious amounts of beer, and people dressed in vibrant green-colored outfits.
According to history, Saint Patrick was born in Britain but later captured as a slave by the Irish pillagers. As a slave, Saint Patrick grew close to his faith and received a spiritual calling to priesthood. He trained and became a missionary in Ireland and spread Christianity to the Irish. He spent his life teaching the Gospel, building churches and monasteries, and eventually became the “first bishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland.”
4. Palm Sunday
To Celebrate: The day Jesus entered Jerusalem after performing a miracle
Date Celebrated: March 24, 2024/ Sunday
Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week, and for many Christians, it is the most sacred time of the year. Christian scriptures tell a tale of Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem on a donkey. People with palm branches welcomed him to commend him for the miracle he had performed. Before entering the city, he had woken his friend, Lazarus, from the dead.
Palm Sunday is the day Jesus was bestowed with divine authority and reminds people to acknowledge Jesus as the king and god. People celebrate this holy day by attending church services, where they sing hymns and read scriptures. They also participate in a procession requiring palm leaves. These fold the leaves into a cross and hold on to it during the service.
5. Good Friday
To Celebrate: The day humans were declared good thanks to Jesus' sacrifice
Date Celebrated: March 29, 2024/ Friday
Good Friday marks the day they crucified Jesus on the cross. People revered Jesus as God and King, and he had amassed a massive following. The kings in Jerusalem were envious and afraid that Jesus would someday take away their power and plotted his death.
The jealous kings declared him a rebel and crucified him to death. They tortured him and made him carry the wooden cross to the place of his crucifixion. They nailed his hands and feet to the cross, and three hours later, he died. According to the bible, the crucifixion was part of God’s plan. His blood needed to be shed for the sins of humanity to be washed away. Good Friday was not a happy day, but it was good because it was the day God declared humans were good thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice.
To Celebrate: The day Jesus was resurrected
Date Celebrated: March 31, 2024/ Sunday
The Christians often consider Easter the most important holiday. It is a day to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, the very foundation of the Christian Faith. Before his death, Jesus prophesied that he would wake up after three days. He kept his promise and woke up. The Bible states God resurrected him, cementing his status as the son of God. If he had remained dead, he would just have been a martyr with misunderstood ideals.
There are many customary practices during Easter, but most involve an egg. An egg symbolizes new life emerging, much like how Jesus was resurrected from the tomb. People paint these eggs in red with a cross to signify Jesus’ tomb. They then crack it to denote his resurrection.
To Celebrate: The day the Holy Spirit visited Jesus’ disciples.
Date Celebrated: May 19, 2024/ Sunday
We celebrate Pentecost on the 51st day of Jesus’ resurrection and the 11th day of his ascension to heaven. According to the Bible, the apostles gathered in Jerusalem for the Pentecost or Feast of the Harvest. They were all in a room when a gust of wind filled the house they were in. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, enabling them to speak different languages.
This strange phenomenon drew a massive crowd, and Peter, one of the apostles, addressed the crowd. He recited the Gospel and talked about repentance. Everyone was impressed, and by the end of the celebration, 3,000 people became Christians, which led to the birth of the first church. People started referring to Pentecost as the church's birthday for this reason.
To Celebrate: The day Christians honor the saints
Date Celebrated: October 31, 2024/ Thursday
Halloween is a festival with pagan traditions, but it has links to Christianity. According to history, Halloween comes from the word All Hallows’ Eve. All Hallows’ Eve fell on the eve of All Hallows or All Saints’ Day. Pope Gregory III, in the 8th century, changed All Saints’ Day from May to November to prevent pagan worship. Over time, Christianity took over, and the holiday became less associated with the Pagans.
On All Saints’ Day, people attend church masses and remind themselves that only those who follow Jesus’ teachings shall earn a place in heaven. All Souls Day, which falls after All Saints’ Day, is a day to pray for the departed souls, especially those in purgatory. Christians believe that souls sent to hell as punishment can reach heaven with prayers.
To Celebrate: The day you thank God for abundance
Date Celebrated: November 28, 2024/ Thursday
Thanksgiving, as the name suggests, is a day reserved for people to thank God for everything in their lives. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. However, the roots of this celebration go way back. In 1621, the Puritans experienced a harsh winter and were afraid they would not have enough harvest. Fortunately, they had enough to feed all the hungry mouths.
They gave thanks to the Lord by abstaining from food and praying. But this changed when the Wampanoag Indians shared their harvest with the Puritans. This led to a new harvest tradition, one filled with feasting, laughter, dancing, and joy. This tradition has carried over to modern times, where people invite friends and families over for a feast.
To Celebrate: The arrival of Jesus
Date Celebrated: December 3, 2024/ Tuesday
Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which means coming. It marks the beginning of the Christian year and is celebrated for four Sundays consecutively, ending on Christmas Eve. Although the origins of these festivities are not confirmed, many believe Christians needed time to prepare for the feasting on Christmas. They prayed and fasted before the big celebration.
During this period leading up to Christmas, people light Advent wreaths. The wreaths hold four candles, and each of them is lit on a Sunday. On the first two Sundays, we light two purple candles, which represent hope and faith. On the third Sunday, we light the pink candle representing joy. The last purple candle, representing peace, is lit on the final Sunday.
To Celebrate: The arrival of Jesus
Date Celebrated: December 25, 2024/ Wednesday
Christmas is the most popular holiday and is celebrated even by non-Christians. It is the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The Bible does not specify the birth date of Jesus, but in 221 CE, a historian studied the Bible and concluded his birthday would be celebrated on December 25. But Orthodox celebrate Christmas On January 7th.
According to the Bible, God sent Jesus to Earth to atone for the sins of humanity. Therefore, we celebrate Christmas to thank Jesus for his sacrifice. During this holiday, people attend church services and nativity plays, sing Christmas carols, decorate their homes with Christmas ornaments, and feast with friends and family.
Also Read: Top 15 Most Celebrated Holidays In Order