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Why the date of Easter was announced on Epiphany


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Philip Kosloski - published on 01/05/24

Epiphany is the final solemnity before Lent and the beginning of the Easter cycle.
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Among the various traditions that occurred on the feast of Epiphany was the announcement of the date of Easter.

It may seem strange to already be thinking about Easter during the Christmas season, but in reality, Easter is much closer than we might think.

Dom Prosper Guéranger explains in his Liturgical Year some of the history behind this Epiphany tradition:

In Cathedral and other principal Churches after the Gospel has been sung, the approaching Feast of Easter Sunday is solemnly announced to the people. This custom, which dates from the earliest ages of the Church, shows both the mysterious connection which unites the great Solemnities of the year one with another, and the importance the Faithful ought to attach to the celebration of that which is the greatest of all and the centre of all Religion. After having honored the King of the universe on the Epiphany, we shall have to celebrate him on the day which is now announced to us as the conqueror of death.

Here is a sample of the text that was used to announce the date of Easter:

Know dearly beloved Brethren that by the mercy God, as we have been in the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so also do we announce unto you the joy of the Resurrection of the same our Saviour. Septuagesima Sunday will be on the day of…. Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the of most holy Lent will be the…. of….. On the…. of…… we shall celebrate with joy the holy Pasch of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This tradition is no longer widely celebrated, though with changes to account for liturgical revisions it is sometimes chanted by the deacon, priest, or cantor. It reminds how all the feasts of the liturgical year are connected and eventually lead back to the Paschal Mystery.

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