A feast day is a Church holiday honoring a particular saint. As the list of saints varies between different Christian tradtions, so do their feast days. A calendar of saints is a method of organising a liturgical year on the level of days by associating each day with one or more saints, and referring to the day as the saint's day of that saint. The system arose from the very early Christian custom of annual commemoration of martyrs on the date of their death. As the number of recognized saints increased during Late Antiquity and roughly the first half of the Middle Ages, eventually every day of the year had at least one saint who was commemorated on that date. Eventually, some saints were moved to another day in some traditions, or completely removed; thus, some saints do have more than one day.
There are two categories of saints: martyrs and confessors. Martyrs were people who died in the service of the Lord and confessors were people who died natural deaths. Confessors were not initially considered for saint's days.
This calendar system, when combined with major church festivals and movable and immovable feasts, constructs a very human and personalised yet often localised way of organising the year and identifying dates. It may be compared with the Roman Missal.
Many Christians continue the tradition of dating by saints' days: their works may appear "dated" as "The Feast of Saint Martin" or "Lammastide". Poets such as John Keats commemorate the importance of The Eve of Saint Agnes.
Many children acquire baptismal or confirmational names from the saint associated with their date of birth, baptism or confirmation, and believing Eastern Orthodox Christians (and in some countries, Roman Catholics) mark the "name day" (namesday) of the saint whose name they bear with special attention, often instead of birthday celebrations.
Various feast days will be "ranked" with various levels of importance. In the Roman Catholic Church, from most to least importance, these are solemnities, feasts, memorials, and optional memorials. The rankings listed below are those for the universal church, various countries or dioceses may have additional saints or blesseds in their calendars. If no ranking is given, the feast day belongs to some particular calendar and not the universal calendar.
- Roman Catholic calendar of saints, the Roman Calendar in its present form.
- Traditional Catholic Calendar, the pre-1969 Roman Calendar.
- Eastern Orthodox Church calendar
- Calendar of saints (Anglican), calendar of the Anglican Communion
- Calendar of Saints (Lutheran)
- List of saints
- Moveable feasts
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