Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
What are the vestment colours associated with the major feasts and seasons of the Church?
Category: Clergy Vesting and Entrance Prayers

The following are the colours of vestments associated with the major liturgical seasons and Feasts of the Church. These colours refer not only to the vestments worn by the clergy, but also the coverings of the Holy Table, analoys, etc., throughout the temple. While there are certain limited variations on these colours even within the Church Abroad, what is described here is the sole practice to be maintained within our Diocese.

  • Nativity of the Theotokos (from the forefeast to the leavetaking): Blue.
  • Exaltation of the Cross (from the forefeast to the leavetaking) and other feasts of the Cross: Red.
  • Protection (Pokrov) of the Theotokos, and Entry of the Theotokos (from the forefeast to the leavetaking): Blue.
  • Nativity Fast: Red.
  • Nativity of Christ (including its Eve, and until the leavetaking): White.
  • Synaxis of the Theotokos: Blue.
  • Circumcision of the Lord, Theophany (including its Eve, and until the leavetaking): White.
  • Meeting of the Lord: (from the forefeast to the leavetaking): Blue.
  • Annunciation (from the forefeast to the leavetaking; but if in Holy Week, only on the Feast itself): Blue.
  • Triodion Preparatory Sundays before Great Lent (Prodigal Son, etc.): Gold.
  • Weekdays of Great Lent: Black (purple may be used if black is not available).
  • Saturdays and general Sundays of Great Lent, and Polyelei-rank feasts on weekdays in Lent: Purple (dark red may be used if purple is not available).
  • Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy during Great Lent: Red[*]
  • Sunday of the Cross during Great Lent: Red (not purple)
  • Saturday of the Akathist in Great Lent: Blue.
  • Canon of St Andrew in Great Lent: Black.
  • Lazarus Saturday: Green (gold only if green is not available).
  • Palm Sunday: Green.
  • Great Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Passion Week: Black.
  • General Unction on Great Wednesday (or another day): Purple.
  • Great Thursday Liturgy: Red (not purple).
  • Great Thursday evening (Twelve Gospels): Black.
  • Great Saturday: Black until the ‘Alleluia’ after the Apostle, then white for the remainder.
  • Pascha (until the leavetaking): White.
  • Ascension (until the leavetaking): White.
  • Pentecost (until the leavetaking): Green.
  • Monday of the Holy Spirit: Green.
  • Sundays of All Saints, All Russian Saints, and All Local Saints (1st, 2nd and 3rd Sundays after Pentecost): Gold.[**]
  • Nativity of St John the Baptist (and in general his other feastdays): Red.
  • Apostles’ Fast: Red.[**]
  • Sts Peter and Paul, and generally all feastdays of Apostles: Gold.
  • Dormition Fast, until the Eve of the Transfiguration: Red.
  • Transfiguration (until the leavetaking): White.
  • Dormition of the Theotokos (forefeast until the leavetaking): Blue.

[*] While in some places purple vestments are worn for the Triumph of Orthodoxy, our Ruling Bishop does not favour this practice, given the festal nature of the day’s commemorations, and prefers the practice handed down by St John the Wonderworker and other of our Hierarchs: namely, that red vestments should be worn on this day, with purple used only if there is not ample red for all Altar servers. This is the practice blessed for use in our Diocese.

[**] If, as happens in some years, the Apostles’ Fast includes the Sundays of All Saints, or All Saints of Russia, or All Local Saints (the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Sundays after Pentecost), the vestments are RED during the weekdays (in honour of the fast), and GOLD on the weekends (in honour of the various saints).

Beyond the above specific Feasts and seasons, the following more general rules apply:

  • Lower-rank Feasts of the Lord, as well as general weekdays and Sundays outside of a major fast: Gold.
  • Feasts of the Theotokos: Blue.
  • Feasts of the Angels and Heavenly Hosts: Red.
  • Feasts of Prophets: Gold.
  • Feasts of Hierarchs: Gold.
  • Feasts of Martyrs: Red.
  • Feasts of Monastics and Fools-for-Christ: Green.
  • Feasts of Right-Believing Princes: Gold (unless they have accepted monastic tonsure: Green; or martyrdom: Red).
  • Feasts of Virgins: White.
  • At Funerals: White, or otherwise the colour of season.
  • At Baptisms: White.
  • At Marriages: The colour of season.

NOTE: We do not ever serve a sacrament in black vestments (this includes not just the Divine Liturgy, but also Unction, etc. — but does not include the Presanctified Liturgy, which is normally served in black, as during this service there is no sacramental consecration, but only the communion of the faithful of Gifts previously consecrated), nor do we ever serve a funeral in black vestments.

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