Good Annunciation Friday?

by Jimmy Akin

in Liturgical Year

A reader writes:

A question — what’s being done about the Feast of the Annunciation this year?  The usual date is March 25, but this year Good Friday falls on that date.

Believe it or not, the Annunciation is being transferred to April 4th this year, more than a week after its usual date of March 25 (nine months before Christmas).

PROOF. (WARNING: Evil file format [.pdf]!)

The reason has to do with which days take priority over which other days in the calendar. There are elaborate rules for this. Basically, you check the Table of Liturgical Days from the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, you’ll see that the Annunciation, as a feast daysolemnity, is a rank #53 day, which thus takes a back seat to days of rank #1-#42.

Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday are rank #1 days, so you can’t celebrate the Annunciation then.

Holy Thursday (like the other weekdays of Holy Week) are rank #2, so you can’t celebrate it then.

Days within the Octave of Easter are also rank #2, so same thing.

The Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) is also rank #2.

So long story short: It gets bumped to April 4th, because that’s the first opening where another day wouldn’t take precedence over it.

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Brad Haas February 27, 2005 at 12:51 pm

Tangential question: would it be possible in the future to raise the level of celebration and awareness of the Annunciation so as to put focus on the fact that the Incarnation happened at that point (not at Christmas), in order to counter the culture of death?

Jimmy Akin February 27, 2005 at 1:31 pm

Yes, it would, though that would be entirely up to the pope to do.

Matthew L. Martin February 27, 2005 at 1:43 pm

I believe there’s an old legend that the Annunciation and Good Friday both happened on March 25th, as did the Fall.
(It’s also the start of the Gondorian New Year :-) )

Ed Peters February 27, 2005 at 1:48 pm

Kinda make one want to revisit VCII’s declaraton of openness to fixing a permanent date for Easter.

sk February 27, 2005 at 3:42 pm

If I may, a slight correction: The Annunciation is a solemnity, not a Feast. Therefore, it has rank 3, not rank 5. Not that this affects the placement in regard to the Triduum and the Octave of Easter, but if there were a Proper Solemnity getting into the mix…
And as an aside, my understanding is that in the Eastern Churches, the Annunciation is ranked high enough that they will celebrate the Annunciation on the morning of Good Friday before they do the celebration of the Passion in the afternoon.

Jimmy Akin February 27, 2005 at 5:41 pm

SK: You’re right. Sorry, I misread the resource I looked it up in.
I would be careful about speaking of the Eastern Churches as if they were a bloc, though. There is considerable variation among them in how they handle things.

Jared L. Olar February 27, 2005 at 9:56 pm

I too have read of the old tradition that the Annunciation and Good Friday were both on March 25 — as well as noticing that Tolkien had the One Ring destroyed on March 25, just as he had Samwise awaken on the first full moon of the first month of the New Year — i.e., Passover or Easter!

Mary February 28, 2005 at 7:41 pm

In pagan Rome, March 25 was New Year’s Day. That may have been a partial factor in something that happened later.
They reverted back to March 25 in the middle ages, once they started dating AD, because it of course started on the Annuciation.

Jared Olar February 28, 2005 at 9:26 pm

In the Middle Ages, March 25 was also regarded as the anniversary of the creation of the world, which, when you think about it, makes for a nice allegory of the Annuciation, the beginning of a new creation.

Lindsey March 3, 2005 at 12:26 pm

“Tangential question: would it be possible in the future to raise the level of celebration and awareness of the Annunciation so as to put focus on the fact that the Incarnation happened at that point (not at Christmas), in order to counter the culture of death?”
One special thing we do, only on the Aunnunciation and on Christmas, is kneel during the Creed instead of bow. I only mention this because I’m not sure how familiar everyone is with this, since at our current parish apparently no one knows to do it. We were introduced to this act of reverence by a holy priest from Ghana at our last parish, and I do know it’s a universal act of reverence in Church, because they have mentioned it in the commentary for the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Vatican, which I’ve watched the last two years.
March 25 is just about one of my favorite days. It’s actually my birthday, but now that I’m Catholic, I’m stunned by what significance it has in our Faith. Reading here that there is legend or tradition that Good Friday and the Annunciation both fell on March 25 is especially neat; that makes this year special, because I know it doesn’t happen that way very often.
Speaking of birthdays and Feasts, I found out once that Easter will fall on March 25 only once in my life (God willing I live that long)–sometime in my 50s.

Brier March 3, 2005 at 5:35 pm

Kneeling at the “Et Incarnatus Est” in the Creed was normative in the traditional Latin rite. That is, until recently every parish did it. So kneeling for the Creed is far from some esoteric devotion, I’d put it up with such salutary practices as beating your breast for the confiteor, kneeling for communion, or reception on the tongue, all practices which have sadly fallen into abeyance.

dcs March 3, 2005 at 8:06 pm

beating your breast for the confiteor
And for the Domine, non sum dignus (“Lord, I am not worthy”). :)

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