Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

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

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.

  • 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 Cross during Great Lent: Red.
  • Saturday of the Akathist in Great Lent: Blue.
  • Lazarus Saturday: Green (gold only if green is not available).
  • Palm Sunday: Green.
  • Great Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Passion Week: Black.
  • Great Thursday Liturgy: Red.
  • Great Thursday evening (Twelve Gospels): Black.
  • Great Saturday (from the reading of the Epistle): White.
  • Pascha (until the leavetaking): White.
  • Ascension (until the leavetaking): White.
  • Pentecost (until the leavetaking): Green.
  • Monday of the Holy Spirit: Green.
  • Nativity of St John the Baptist (and in general his other feastdays): Red.
  • Apostles’ Fast: Red.
  • Sts Peter and Paul, and generally feasdays 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.

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: White, or otherwise 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 serve a funeral in black vestments.

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