A Look at Catholic Holy Days

A really cool thing about Catholicism is that many days of the calendar year are a cause for celebration. Nearly every day marks the feast day of a saint — a day when that saint’s holy life and deeds are remembered. Some days are holy days of obligation, which means that you’re obliged to attend Mass that day.

The following table shows holy days on the Catholic calendar. An asterisk indicates that it’s also a holy day of obligation:

Date Holy Day What It Commemorates
January 1 Feast of Mary As the Mother of God, Mary receives special adoration from
Catholics (and has a whole month set aside to honor her; see
“May” later in this list).
January 6 Feast of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Magi, the three kings
bearing gifts for the newborn Christ in the stable at Bethlehem.
Many Catholic parishes in the United States, celebrate this feast
on the first Sunday after New Year’s Day.
February 2 Feast of Candlemas Also known as the Presentation of the Christ. White beeswax
candles are blessed during or after Mass on February 2, and people
take some home to be used during prayer.
March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Who doesn’t know about the wearing o’ the green to
commemorate the Emerald Isle on the Patron Feast Day of Ireland?
Morning Mass, parades, Irish soda bread, potato soup, green beer
— all great customs.
March 19 Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Husband of Mary and Patron of the
Universal Church
Even though Lent is a time of penance and mortification, some
feast days are so special that the Church wants you to celebrate
them with gusto, and so it is with the feast day of St. Joseph,
which provides a respite from Lenten privations.
The first Sunday after the first full moon following the March
equinox.
Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day) Easter celebrates Jesus’ rising from the dead. All
Catholics are required not only to attend Mass, but to receive
Communion on Easter.
Ascension Thursday 40 days after Easter Sunday Celebrates Christ’s ascension into Heaven.
May The whole month All 31 days of May are dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Catholics traditionally have May Crownings when crowns of roses
adorn a statue of Mary, and boys and girls who just made their
First Holy Communion wear their same outfits for the occasion.
June 13 Feast of St. Anthony of Padua Many local Italian communities celebrate the Feast of St.
Anthony of Padua with special Masses and processions.
August 15 The Assumption of Mary (The Feast of the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin Mary)
Christ’s mother was so holy that when she died, she was
assumed (taken up), both body and soul, into heaven.
October 1 Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux This St. Thérèse is also known as the Little
Flower. Roses are traditionally blessed and given to the sick,
infirm, elderly, and other special-needs parishioners on this
date.
November 1 All Saints’ Day A day to commemorate all saints, known and unknown
December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception The immaculate conception refers not to Jesus’s birth,
but to the fact that Mary, his Mother, was free of original
sin.
December 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholics, especially those of Hispanic heritage, celebrate
this feast about two weeks before Christmas every year.
December 25* Christmas Day Christians around the planet celebrate the birth of Jesus
Christ on this day. It is a holy day of obligation for Catholics,
who also are required to receive Communion.