Afterfeast

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An Afterfeast is a period of celebration attached to one of the Great Feasts celebrated by the Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Churches (somewhat analogous to what in the West would be called an Octave).

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 200–260 million members. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Pope of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops.

Eastern Catholic Churches autonomous, self-governing particular Churches in full communion with the Pope

The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, and in some historical cases Uniate Churches, are twenty-three Eastern Christian particular churches sui iuris in full communion with the Pope in Rome, as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. Headed by patriarchs, metropolitans, and major archbishops, the Eastern Catholic Churches are governed in accordance with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, although each church also has its own canons and laws on top of this, and the preservation of their own traditions is explicitly encouraged. The total membership of the various churches accounts for about 18 million, according to the Annuario Pontificio, thus making up about 1.5 percent of the Catholic Church, with the rest of its more than 1.2 billion members belonging to the Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church.

The celebration of the Great Feasts of the church year are extended for a number of days, depending upon the particular Feast. Each day of an Afterfeast will have particular hymns assigned to it, continuing the theme of the Feast being celebrated. At each of the divine services during an Afterfeast, the (Gk.) troparion and (Gk.) kontakion of the feast are read or chanted. The (Gk.) canon of the feast will usually be chanted on every day of the Afterfeast (if two canons were chanted on the day of the feast, they will be alternated on the days of the afterfeast). Some of the Great Feasts of the Lord will have a special canon composed of only three odes, called a (Gk.) Triode, which will be chanted at Compline on each day of the Afterfeast.

Troparion

A troparion in Byzantine music and in the religious music of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a short hymn of one stanza, or organised in more complex forms as series of stanzas.

Kontakion

The kontakion is a form of hymn performed in the Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic liturgical traditions. The kontakion originated in the Byzantine Empire around the sixth century CE. It is divided into strophes and begins with a prologue. The kontakion usually has a biblical theme, and often features dialogue between biblical characters. By far the most important writer of kontakia is Romanos the Melodist. The only kontakion that is regularly performed in full today is the Akathist to the Theotokos.

Most of these Great Feasts also have a day or more of preparation called a Forefeast (those Feasts that are on the moveable Paschal Cycle do not have Forefeasts). Forefeasts and Afterfeasts will affect the structure of the services during the Canonical Hours.

The last day of an Afterfeast is called the Apodosis (Gk. "leave-taking", lit. "giving-back") of the Feast. On the Apodosis, most of the hymns that were chanted on the first day of the Feast are repeated. On the Apodosis of Feasts of the Theotokos, the Epistle and Gospel from the day of the Feast are repeated again at the Divine Liturgy.

<i>Theotokos</i> title given to Mary in Eastern Christianity

Theotokos is a title of Mary, mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern Christianity. The usual Latin translations, Dei Genetrix or Deipara, are "Mother of God" or "God-bearer".

Divine Liturgy

Divine Liturgy or Holy Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine Rite, developed from the Antiochene Rite of Christian liturgy which is that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox, the Greek Catholic Churches, and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Although the same term is sometimes applied in English to the Eucharistic service of Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, they use in their own language a term meaning "holy offering" or "holy sacrifice". Other churches also treat "Divine Liturgy" simply as one of many names that can be used, but it is not their normal term.

The Forefeasts and Afterfeasts break down as follows:

Days of

Forefeast

Name of

Feast

Date Days of

Afterfeast [1]

1 Nativity of the Theotokos 8 September 5
1 Exaltation of the Cross 14 September 8
1 Entry of the Theotokos 21 November 5
5 [2] Nativity of our Lord 25 December 7
4 [3] Theophany of our Lord 6 January 9
1 [4] Meeting of our Lord 2 February 8
0 [5] Palm Sunday Sunday before Pascha 0
1 [6] Annunciation of the Theotokos 25 March 2
0 [7] Pascha Sunday of the Resurrection 39
0 Mid-Pentecost [8] Twenty-fifth day of Pascha 7
0 Ascension of our Lord Fortieth day of Pascha 9
0 Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) Fiftieth day of Pascha 7
1 Transfiguration of our Lord 6 August 8
1 Dormition of the Theotokos 15 August 9

Four of these Afterfeasts have a special commemoration on the day following the Feast, called a (Gk.) Synaxis. In this context, a Synaxis commemorates a saint who is intimately bound up with the Feast being celebrated. The four Synaxes are:

Synaxis calendar date

In Eastern Christianity, a Synaxis is a liturgical assembly, generally for the celebration of Vespers, Matins, Little Hours, and the Divine Liturgy.

Joachim biblical figure

Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus, according to the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions. The story of Joachim and Anne first appears in the apocryphal Gospel of James. Joachim and Anne are not mentioned in the Bible. His feast day is 26 July.

Saint Anne mother of Virgin Mary in Christian and Islamic traditions; unnamed in the New Testament or Quran

According to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition, Saint Anne, of David's house and line, was the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. Mary's mother is not named in the canonical gospels, but is mentioned as the daughter of Faqud in Quran. In writing, Anne's name and that of her husband Joachim come only from New Testament apocrypha, of which the Gospel of James seems to be the earliest that mentions them.

John the Baptist major religious figure

John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. John is revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Mandaeism. He is called a prophet by all of these faiths, and is honored as a saint in many Christian traditions. Other titles for John include John the Forerunner in Eastern Christianity and "the prophet John (Yaḥyā)" in Islam. To clarify the meaning of "Baptist", he is sometimes alternatively called John the Baptizer.

Other Great Feasts that have Afterfeasts (although no Forefeasts) are:

Each of these three has only 1 day of Afterfeast, and no Apodosis. These are not counted among the Twelve Great Feasts (i.e., Great Feasts of the Lord or Theotokos).

Even though the Patronal Feast of a parish church or monastery is treated as a Great Feast, it has no Forefeast or Afterfeast.

The Feast of the Procession of the Cross (August 1), though it is not counted as a Great Feast, has one day of Forefeast, and no Afterfeast.

Notes

  1. These numbers are inclusive (counting the actual day of the Feast itself).
  2. The Eve of the Nativity is a special day of strict fasting and preparation in anticipation of the Feast, called a (Gk.) Paramony.
  3. The Eve of the Theophany (Gk.) is also a Paramony.
  4. The Forefeast and Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord are variable, depending on the date of Pascha that year: the Afterfeast must always end before the beginning of Great Lent.
  5. The day before Palm Sunday, Lazarus Saturday could be considered a type of Forefeast for Palm Sunday.
  6. 1 2 If the Annunciation falls during Holy Week there will be no Forefeast or Afterfeast. This timing is only possible for Orthodox churches who continue to follow the Julian calendar, since March 25 in the Revised Julian calendar falls too early to be that close to even the earliest of Paschas.
  7. Holy Saturday could be thought of as a Forefeast of Pascha, but the Bright Resurrection of Christ is so far above and beyond the normal level of Great Feasts that it falls into a category all by itself. It does, however have an Afterfeast, and that is why it is treated in this table.
  8. Mid-Pentecost (Gk.) is unique in that it is a Feast that falls within a Feast (falling as it does within the Afterfeast of Pascha).

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