The liturgical seasonal altar and vestment colours
Ever wondered what the significance of the altar colours or the colour of the stole that the priest wears is? Here is a quick guide.
The symbolism of purple, white, green, red, gold and other colours serve to underline moods appropriate to a season of the liturgical year or to highlight a special occasion.
- Ordinary Time: Green
Colour: The Colours you will see on the altar and on the priest's vestments during Ordinary Time is Green. A sign of Hope or Triumph of life over death, like re-growth in springtime.
When referring to the liturgical year the term "ordinary" does not mean "usual or average." Ordinary here means "not seasonal." Ordinary Time is that part of the Liturgical Year that lies outside the seasons of Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas.
In Ordinary Time, the church celebrates the mystery of Christ not in one specific aspect but in all its aspects. The readings during Ordinary Time help to instruct us on how to live out our Christian faith in our daily lives.
- Kingdom Season: Red
Colour: The final four weeks of Ordinary Time is observed as the Kingdom Season with the colour Red and concludes with the Feast of Christ the King as the last Sunday of Ordinary Time and of the Liturgical Year.
- Advent Season: Purple
Colour: Since Advent is a time of expectation and preparation, the colour Purple is used in the vestments and decorations. Purple is a colour that was reserved for use by royalty, and so it is used in Advent to symbolise the coming of Christ our King, as celebrated at Christmas and as we prepare for the coming of God's Kingdom.
Advent begins the liturgical year four Sundays before 25 December.
- Christmas Season: White and Gold
Colour: The colour of the vestments for this season is White and Gold to show our Joy. It also represents innocence and holiness. In some cases Silver is used instead of White.
- Lenten Season: Purple
Colour: The colour used during Lent is Purple, which symbolises the efforts for penance and reflection.
The Lenten Season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Thursday of Holy Week.
The Term "Lent" comes from a Middle English word that means Springtime. Like the season of Spring, Lent is a time of renewal.
- Easter Season: White
Colour: The colour used during the Easter season is White, signifying the joy of Christ's resurrection.
The last day of the Easter season is Pentecost Sunday, on which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. On this day Red is the liturgical colour, representing the Fire of the Holy Spirit. On Good Friday, Black can also be used as a symbol of death.
- Feast of Martyred Saints: Red
Colour: When celebrating the feast of a martyred saint, Red is typically used.