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Other Feasts

On each day of the year the Ortho­dox Church com­mem­o­rates cer­tain saints or sacred events in its his­to­ry. In addi­tion to the twelve major feast days men­tioned above, the entire Ortho­dox Church cel­e­brates a num­ber of oth­er days with spe­cial litur­gi­cal and spir­i­tu­al solemnity.

First among the feasts uni­ver­sal­ly cel­e­brat­ed by all the Ortho­dox are those of Saint John the Bap­tist of whom Christ has said that “among those born of women there has arisen none greater” (Mt 11:11; Lk 7:28).

The feasts of the apos­tles are also cel­e­brat­ed in all the church­es, par­tic­u­lar­ly the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (on right) which is pre­ced­ed by a pre­scribed fast­ing period.

Cer­tain oth­er saints are espe­cial­ly ven­er­at­ed through­out the world as well, such as Saints Nicholas (on left) and George, the Prophet Elias and the Archangel Michael, togeth­er with the hier­ar­chs, Saints Basil the Great, John Chrysos­tom, and Gre­go­ry the The­olo­gian.

Each local church also has its own par­tic­u­lar­ly holy days. In the Greek Church Saints Spiri­don, Demetrios, Nek­tar­ios, and oth­ers are high­ly ven­er­at­ed, just as Saints Sergius, Seraphim, Tikhon, and Vladimir are in the Russ­ian Church; Saint Sava (on right) in the Ser­bian Church; and Saint Her­man in the Amer­i­can Church.

In addi­tion to those spe­cial fes­tal days of the par­tic­u­lar nation­al church­es, there exists also the prac­tice for cer­tain cities, towns and monas­ter­ies to have litur­gi­cal cel­e­bra­tions of holy per­sons or events prop­er to their own par­tic­u­lar inter­ests and desires. Thus there exist cer­tain saints, for exam­ple, which are cel­e­brat­ed with great solem­ni­ty in just a very few places in the Church, per­haps even in just one par­tic­u­lar place where they have a spe­cial impor­tance for the faithful.

It is nec­es­sary to note that in the Ortho­dox Church the litur­gi­cal feasts are not “insti­tu­tions” which are leg­is­lat­ed by some eccle­si­as­ti­cal author­i­ty apart from the inter­est and con­sent of the peo­ple. The feasts of the Church, and even the can­on­iza­tion of saints, always fol­lows from the liv­ing devo­tion of the Chris­t­ian peo­ple. If there were no pop­u­lar inter­est and ven­er­a­tion of a cer­tain holy per­son, there would be no offi­cial can­on­iza­tion and no litur­gi­cal fes­ti­val estab­lished in his or her hon­or. Once a per­son is rec­og­nized as a saint, how­ev­er, and it is agreed that God him­self is pre­sent­ing this per­son as a liv­ing wit­ness to him­self and his King­dom, then the Church hier­ar­chy will set the day of the feast and will com­pose the prop­er litur­gi­cal ser­vice and hymns to be used in the cel­e­bra­tion. The fre­quen­cy and fer­vor of the cel­e­bra­tion will then depend sole­ly upon the will of the peo­ple, and once estab­lished the feast could only dis­ap­pear organ­i­cal­ly, in a way sim­i­lar to its appear­ance. It would not, and indeed it real­ly could not be “dis­es­tab­lished” by the decree of any church authority.