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An Ecumenical Celebration--March 25 In Various Faith Traditions

 

The Annunciation as a religious observance is celebrated with various traditions among different denominations, many of which are described below along with more modern applications that fit in particularly well with an established practice.  It is also important to remember that as the "Day of the Unborn Child" the date can be honored as a pro-life memorial not only by the various Christians denominations, but also by members of non-Christian faiths and secular proponents of the sanctity of life.  In fact, the Vatican.va page promoting the Annunciation feast as "The Day of the Unborn Child" notes that when the movement began in Argentina the official 1999 proclamation was made in the presence of representatives from the Orthodox, Anglican, Evangelical, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.  Just as the season of Christmas honoring the birth of Jesus Christ has become a time for cross-cultural charitable endeavors to help children of all faiths, the Annunciation feast as "Day of the Unborn Child" can become an annual focus for solidarity in our charitable action toward unborn children.  Likewise, there will be much overlap and cross-denominational interest in many of the activities described below--the categories are only for convenience as a general guide.

 

If you would like to share information on an Annunciation/Incarnation tradition associated with March 25th celebrated at your place of worship, please contact us at info@DayOfTheUnbornChild.com -- indicate denomination if applicable.

 

*  Roman Catholic and Maronite

*  Anglican/Episcopalian

*  Lutheran

*  Orthodox (and related traditions)

*  Other Christian & Non-Denominational Churches

 

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Note:  In Roman Catholic, Maronite Rite, Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopalian traditions, the Annunciation may be moved to avoid Lent/Easter conflicts, but rules for this "transfer" differ among denominations and by region.  The Catholic observance is often moved to a later day in March or even into the second week of April.  Contact your local diocese to verify the date the Annunciation will be observed each year.

Roman Catholic and Maronite

 

*  Visit Catholic Culture’s Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord site.  It not only presents a theological perspective, but also suggests activities and prayers on a sidebar, as well as “Things to do” at the bottom of the page to promote a pro-life outlook.  CatholicCulture.org also features Father Francis Weiser's explanation of many Annunciation traditions--for example, the papal Curia's ancient custom of starting the year on March 25 in all their communications, calling it the "Year of the Incarnation."  Fr. Weiser, author of The Holyday Book, also points out something that Catholics may not always notice in the Nicene Creed section in their church missal booklets:  There are only two days in the year in which the direction to kneel or genuflect is given during the creed (at the words, "By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man")--Christmas and the Annunciation.

 

*  EWTN's web page on celebrating the Annunciation briefly explains the importance of the feast and includes suggestions on honoring the day with Mass attendance, family celebrations, and activities with children.

 

*  Knights of Columbus "Day of the Unborn" Resources Page -- The Knights have been the primary source of sponsorship of "Day of the Unborn Child" events in the U.S. -- this page includes an overview and includes links to materials that can be used in a special Mass or prayer service.

 

*  Annunciation Church/School Program materials from the Family Resources Center of the Peoria Diocese -- Click the link for more information on the several booklets plus an illustrated set of 10 posters to span the months from the Annunciation to Christmas--the Family Resources Center offers publications of its own as well as One More Soul materials that offer many ideas and approaches to celebrating the Annunciation and its pro-life import, including spiritual adoption.

 

*  The Angelus is a traditional Annunciation-themed prayer, often said at noon, or three times daily--dawn, noon, and dusk.  Consider handing out Angelus prayer cards at church on the Annunciation feast and/or having the congregation recite the prayer together at mass on the day.  On July 26th, 2013 at World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis said, "The angelus prayer is a beautiful popular expression of the faith. It is a simple prayer, recited at three specific times during the day.  It thus punctuates the rhythm of our daily activities--in the morning, at midday, and at sunset.  But it is an important prayer.  I encourage each of you to recite it along with the Hail Mary--it reminds us of a luminous event which transformed history--the Incarnation--the moment when the Son of God became man in Jesus of Nazareth."

 

*  The Rosary offers frequent year-round opportunities to bring out the meaning of the Annunciation and promote a fuller understanding of its import and the feast day on which it is celebrated.  At the start of each of the five Joyful Mysteries (Annunciation/Incarnation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation of the Infant Christ, Finding of the Child Jesus) the corresponding passage from the Gospel can be read, giving the Biblical account of the conception, prenatal life, birth, infancy, and childhood of Christ.  The Rosary is ideal for pro-life prayer as it is life affirming in its very nature--the Annunciation is the first of the five Joyful Mysteries, and the first of the 20 total mysteries, and the Hail Mary begins with the angel's Annunciation greeting in the Bible and ends by addressing Mary's motherhood in conceiving the divine savior. The Joyful Mysteries in particular can serve to introduce the theme of Christ's conception and prenatal life into both private and public prayer as a reminder to oneself and others of what we are truly meditating on in contemplating the mystery of the Annunciation and also the Visitation.  For example, when praying the Rosary always remember to add a brief description after announcing the first Joyful Mystery "The Annunciation in Nazareth" such as "--when Christ was conceived" and/or "--the Word was made flesh," "--the moment of Incarnation," "--God became man," etc.  Likewise the second Joyful Mystery can be announced to include the unborn Christ and John the Baptist:  "The Visitation--when Mary with the newly conceived Christ visited Elizabeth whose unborn son John leapt for joy."  This will open the door to a more complete appreciation of what happened on these momentous occasions and facilitate a more profound meditation.  (Meditations for praying the Joyful Mysteries including the Annunciation are found in the book "Praying With Mother Angelica" -- click here for an Amazon link that includes a "Look Inside" the book feature.)

 

*  Pro-Life Holy Hour -- For example, the 2014 Walk For Life West Coast in San Francisco included a 6 a.m. "Unborn Jesus Holy Hour" at Saints Peter & Paul Church as part of the January Roe v. Wade anniversary events -- the holy hour theme of Christ in Mary's womb would also be ideal for the Annunciation/Day of the Unborn Child.

 

*  The feast of Christ’s conception is an ideal time to begin a church-based nine-month period of Spiritual Adoption in which parishioners are invited to pray on a regular basis for a newly conceived child in danger from abortion over the nine months leading up to Christmas.  In the Roman Catholic Church this can be perfectly combined with the practice of having a “novena” of pro-life masses (meaning “nine” sequential) beginning on the Annunciation feast and ending near Christmas.  This commitment to pray regularly is not only a vital expression of concern for endangered unborn children, but also, the gestational duration of both the Spiritual Adoption program and the “novena” of monthly masses emphasizes the Annunciation’s pro-life aspect and underscores the relationship between these two central feasts of the Incarnation.  At the end of the nine months a Spiritual Adoption "baby shower" is held in which parishioners are invited to give contributions and needed items for a local pro-life pregnancy center.  Closing the Spiritual Adoption program with the gift shower seamlessly blends both the contemplative/spiritual and active/corporal works of mercy.  The shower can be held late in Advent, during the 12 days of Christmas, or even on Epiphany to recall the gifts of the Magi to the baby Jesus; regardless of the day chosen, it represents another opportunity to reinforce the gestational relationship between the feast date and Christmas (with signs, banners, or info table)--especially for parishioners who bring donations to the shower but didn’t participate in Spiritual Adoption.  Please see our "9 Months 4 Life" Spiritual Adoption page here and instructions on using/sharing the "9 Months 4 Life" banner here.  Read more about Spiritual Adoption and available print materials on our Ideas page.

 

*  The traditional 9-month "First Fridays" Devotion can be adapted to span the 9-months between the Annunciation and Christmas.  Begin on the "first Friday of the month" nearest Mar 25 and continue the practice of Mass, communion, etc. for the First Fridays of nine consecutive months -- this will approximate the gestational period from the Annunciation leading up to Christmas.

 

*  The "Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb" is ideal to offer at the feast day Mass, or as part of a special event for the day.  In fact, the Annunciation feast of 2012 was chosen as the date to announce the Vatican's approval of its publication.  (For the full text of the blessing in English and Spanish right-click here to save a .pdf file.)  As noted in a LifeNews article the following day, the blessing can be offered both within and outside of Mass, and "was prepared to support parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage parish prayers for and recognition of the precious gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society."  It also quoted Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who said, "I can think of no better day to announce this news than on the feast of the Annunciation, when we remember Mary’s 'yes' to God and the incarnation of that child in her the womb that saved the world."  To read the full article click here.  Source:  Article by Steven Ertelt, "Vatican Approves New Blessing for Unborn Children" reported by LifeNews.com, 3/26/12, Washington, DC.  Click here to read more from the USCCB page about the blessing.

 

*  At any time of the year start a "Twenty-Fifth of the Month Club" to encourage prayer and pro-life activities each 25th focused on Christ's Incarnation and prenatal life.  Visit the 25th-Of-The-Month-Club page for 12 suggested monthly activities and short tips in "tweetable" form.  [Although the idea is not exclusively Catholic, the concept is similar to the "Thirteenth of the Month Club" familiar to many Catholics--the "13th of the Month Club" is named for the six Fatima apparitions reported in 1917 between May 13 (which became the optional memorial feast of Our Lady of Fatima) and October 13, a period during which the Blessed Mother said she would appear on the 13th of each month.]  The Annunciation is an ideal time to start this easy once-a-month program of prayer and action with special activities on the 25th of March and December.  The simplest way to participate is to follow us on Twitter and visit/"Like" our page on Facebook at facebook.com/AnnunciationDayMarch25 to get monthly reminders and ideas.  Individuals can do something as simple as re-Tweeting or sharing a pro-life quote/photo, leaving a pro-life prayer card at a restaurant, or praying a special pro-life Rosary (specifically the joyful mysteries of the conception, prenatal life, birth, infancy, and childhood of Christ -- see above).  Groups can start an in-person or on-line club to study and honor the Annunciation and its relationship to Christmas, inspired by the pro-life groups in many nations that plan pro-life activities for the 25th of each month (such as special masses/blessings for pregnant women) with the March 25 Annunciation specially honored with Day of the Unborn Child events.  As with the 9-Month Spiritual Adoption or 9 consecutive First Fridays, the "Twenty-Fifth of the Month Club" is particularly helpful for highlighting the Annunciation/Christmas link, but unlike the former two the "club" has activities year-round on the 25th of each month.  These groups can be local or long-distance.  Rather than meeting in person 12 times a year on the 25th, e-mail lists and social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can be used to create a virtual Internet club dedicated to raising awareness about the Annunciation Feast (Mar. 25) and its nine-month gestational relationship to Christmas (Dec. 25).  Prayers, readings, reflections, and message board discussions (as well as special seasonal activities prior to the Annunciation and Christmas), can be planned for the 25th of every month.  For example, the October and November 25th activities could include idea sharing and suggestions on how to include the Annunciation in our Christmas mailings, decorations, and celebrations.  The March 25th Annunciation, as the old New Year's Day, is an ideal occasion to renew the club's commitment and plan for the coming year -- perhaps with a special get-together on March 25th via on-line chat or in person if there are members who live in the same locale.  Please see our "25th of the Month Club" banner here with instructions on using/sharing it in Internet communications.  Find more ideas on Highlighting the Christmas Connection as well as the many suggestions for the Annunciation feast on the Ideas page.

 

*  Life-Affirming Feast Days of Conception & Birth (Annunciation, Christmas, Mary's Immaculate Conception, Mary's Birth) Though all Christian clergy have an extra opportunity at Christmas to point out the pregnancy-length interval between the feasts of the Annunciation and the Nativity, Catholics and others who follow a traditional liturgical calendar have two additional occasions to touch on the symbolic spacing of the feast dates.  As with Christ's conception and birth, the feast of Mary's conception on December 8th is set nine months before her birth feast on September 8th.  The gestational symbolism of both these pairs of dates makes the homilies/sermons for these two Marian feasts another opportune moment to make mention of the nine-month intervals between the conception and birth feasts of both Christ and Mary.  Note:  The four feasts of March and December 25th, and December and September 8th, are also important opportunities to clarify the confusion that often accompanies the feast of the Immaculate Conception (a teaching about Mary most commonly found among Catholics), which is often mistaken for the virginal conception/birth of Christ.  Indeed, encouraging widespread celebration of the Annunciation as Christ's conception feast would make this misunderstanding less likely.  See our special banner for Mary's Dec. 8 Immaculate Conception feast and her Sep. 8 birth feast--with compare/contrast text and memory aids to help distinguish the feast of Mary's conception from the March 25 feast of Christ's conception.  Please also visit the Ideas page section on Highlighting the Christmas Connection.

 

*  The Maronite Rite practice is to celebrate Annunciation during Advent and on March 25th, but in years of Holy Week conflict it is moved from March 25 to another day, the transfer governed by a different rule than that used by the Roman Catholic Church.  As a result Maronite Catholics may be celebrating the Annunciation on a different date from Roman Catholics.  The Maronite formula often keeps the feast in the month of March rather than early April.  For example, in 2016, Roman Catholics moved the feast to April 4th, but Maronite churches celebrated the Annunciation on March 27th, 28th, and 29th -- the 27th was the vigil mass after Easter celebrations were ended Easter Sunday (sundown signifying the end of the liturgical day).  For this reason EWTN Catholic television network founder Mother Angelica of the Annunciation can be said to have passed away both on Easter Sunday and the Maronite feast of the Annunciation which she was named after -- March 27, 2016 -- click here for more on this remarkable coinciding of events as described by EWTN's Fr. Mitch Pacwa, who also celebrates the Maronite Rite.

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Anglican/Episcopalian

 

Note:  As in Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions, Anglican/Episcopalian churches may move or transfer the celebration of the Annunciation in years where there is a Holy Week/Easter conflict, however the rules differ on how and when this applies.  It is best to check with a church in your region to verify the date each year.

 

*  Anglican England continued to observe the March 25th "Annunciation Day" as the beginning of their New Year until the mid-1700s, reflecting the importance of the feast.  Roman Catholic countries also had this tradition in the Middle Ages, but moved their New Year's Day from March 25th to January 1st in the late 1500s with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar.  Source:  "New Year’s Day," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999

 

*  Consider this excerpt from a Feast of the Annunciation homily by the Rev. Lloyd Prator, Mar. 26, 2001, St. John’s in the Village Episcopal Church, New York, NY:

 

There is a good reason why the Annunciation occurs during Lent. Two good reasons, actually. Of course there is the rather cute little device of the calendar. This day, the day that Mary finds out that she is pregnant, occurs just exactly nine months before the Nativity of the Lord in December. But, there is a deeper, subtler reason. In Lent, we talk about the way in which God decided to save the world. It happens through the death and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. And, so it seems fitting that we pause for a moment to remember the very first moment when Jesus was introduced onto the stage of salvation history, that moment when he began his life within the womb of his mother the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Annunciation is one of those events which points to the human nature of Jesus. The Church has traditionally taught that Jesus is both God and human, and today we consider the implications that he was born of an earthly mother, conceived in a unique way, but conceived nevertheless.

 

Read more at:   http://www.stjvny.org/homilies/annunciation_01.asp

 

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Lutheran

 

Note:  As in Roman Catholic and Anglican/Episcopalian traditions, Lutheran churches may move or transfer the celebration of the Annunciation in years where there is a Holy Week/Easter conflict, however the rules vary from Catholic and Anglican practice, and in the Lutheran Church the feast may be moved to a later date or earlier in the month, even back to March 8th according to some national variations in the rule of when and how to transfer the feast.  Therefore it is best to check with a local church to verify the date each year.  Click here for more on Lutheran practice in moving the feast, and here for info on differences between Lutheran and other liturgical calendars.

 

*  Fact:  Listed first among the surviving cantatas of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, his Cantata BWV 1, "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" was written in March 1725 for the Feast of the Annunciation.

 

*  As the feast date approaches visit the Lutherans For Life home page for info on their Annunciation materials (some are available free of charge or for nominal cost).  Concordia Publishing House also offers Annunciation materials intended for a Lutheran congregation at CPH.org -- click here for the Annunciation search page -- most relevant items will display first (visual materials like an Annunciation poster and print have also been offered in the past).

 

Most LFL materials are listed at their Annunciation webpage available year round at www.lutheransforlife.org/store-the-annunciation which features several downloads plus the following text: "The Annunciation of Our Lord - March 25 ~ The path to the cross did not begin in Bethlehem but in Nazareth!  March 25 is the most appropriate time to celebrate the Incarnation.  God became man at Jesus’ conception in Mary.  To assist pastors and congregations in observing the Annunciation of our Lord--and to teach the great value God in Christ places on all human life--these resources are available:"  The downloads offered via their Annunciation page are:  a worship service for "The Annunciation of Our Lord" in Word and PDF, and the Annunciation sermon "Pregnant with God," plus a link to an article "The Annunciation and Abortion" which has download links to print copies yourself and an ordering link to buy printed copies.

 

Here are detailed descriptions (plus alternate direct links) for the materials at LFL's year round Annunciation page:

 

Worship Service — A sample worship service for the Annunciation, including the hymn "O Word of God Incarnate" and selections from scripture, the Book of Concord, Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, and 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, and an introduction that begins:  "A sign in the Holy Land reads, 'Here the Word became flesh.'  You will not find this sign in Bethlehem, but in Nazareth.  There the angel announced to Mary, not just that she would bear a son, but also that she would conceive a son.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, through the words of the angel spoken in Mary's ear, the Son of God took on flesh as a tiny embryo."  Right-Click here to save a copy of the service in MS Word, or right-click here for Adobe .PDF format.

Sample Sermon — Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb’s sermon “Pregnant with God” (based on Luke 1:26-38) uses Scripture, Reformation Era writings, the Lutheran Confessions, and quotes from more recent scholars and theologians (Dr. Edward Koehler, Francis Pieper) to highlight the Incarnational and pro-life significance of Christ’s conception.  Right-Click here to save a download of the sermon.

Brochure — (“The Annunciation and Abortion”) by Rev. Edward Fehskens — offers a historical review and addresses the pro-life implications of the Annunciation and Visitation of Mary and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Click here to read the text, or right-click here for an Adobe file you can print copies from.  Click the following link to order brochures on-line. 

 

Visiting the Lutherans For Life home page regularly will give a reminder of the upcoming feast day up to two months in advance as the site features a linked banner for these Annunciation materials as the feast day approaches (one of several banners that appear sequentially across the top of the page).

 

In the past, LFL has also offered or recommended the following:

 

Bulletin Insert — (“The Miracle of the Incarnation”/"The Miracle of the Annunciation") -- Click here to order print copies and/or click the downloads tab at the ordering page to save a simple text version at no cost -- or for direct access to the free text version right-click here and save.  The site includes this description of the insert:  "The Miracle of the Incarnation -- The path to the cross did not begin in Bethlehem but in Nazareth!  March 25 is the most appropriate time to celebrate the Incarnation.  God became man at Jesus’ conception in Mary.  Since our beginnings were sinful (Psalm 51:5), Jesus had to take our place from that very moment.  Part of the redemptive process was for Jesus to pass through all stages of our development.  What powerful implications for the value of human life from the very beginning! Jesus’ divinity and humanity at the moment of conception attest to our humanity from that moment."

Celebrate Life Service Lutherans For Life suggests a "Celebrate Life" Service for March 25 in the "Speaking Through Worship" section of its "How You Can Speak" page. 

 

Bible-Based Study Guide (including Annunciation) Offers the "God's Word for Life" Bible-based study guide including a section on The Annunciation and the Beginning of Life.  In the Topical Index, under the "Beginning of Life" section you will find the subtopic "The Annunciation and the Beginning of Life." 

 

Other Annunciation-themed materials offered in the past that may be available from Lutherans For Life include:

 

Article — (“Womb and Tomb”) by Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb (Ex. Dir. Lutherans for Life) -- to read the text of the article right-click to open/save this PDF file of the Spring 2005 edition of National Lutherans For Life's LifeDate newsletter -- if LFL no longer offers print copies, just print page 2 of the PDF file.  The article is particularly relevant for years in which March 25 falls on Good Friday but most of the text can be used every year, such as the following excerpts:  "March 25th, the Annunciaton of our Lord…marks the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb….a good reminder for pro-life Christians….   From the womb of the Virgin Mary to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus took our place.  From the womb to the tomb, He showed how much God values human life."

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Orthodox and related traditions (generally celebrated as a fixed feast, on March 25th, or on April 7th--the old Julian calendar equivalent to March 25th)

 

[Take note of this quote from an early saint honored by both Orthodox and Catholics -- St. Theodore the Studite (died 826 AD) -- who in this excerpt from a sermon he gave on the Annunciation feast day (titled "On the Incarnate Dispensation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and That We Should Celebrate Spiritually") speaks specifically on how to celebrate the Annunciation and the importance of keeping in mind its true meaning:  "BRETHREN AND FATHERS, the Annunciation is here and it is the first of the Feasts of the Lord, and we should not simply celebrate as most do, but with understanding  and with reverence for the mystery. What is the mystery? That the Son of God becomes son of man, using the holy Virgin as the means, dwelling in her and from her fashioning for Himself a temple and becoming perfect man."  Read more of the text here.

 

Note on the Fixed Feast Practice, and the April 7th Tradition:  In general, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches do not "transfer" the Annunciation feast to another date if it conflicts with another important day on the liturgical calendar.  They often have special combined liturgies for those years in which the Annunciation coincides with another feast day.  In addition, many of these churches use the old Julian calendar and therefore have the tradition of celebrating the Annunciation on or near April 7th, which is nine months before their Christmas celebration on January 7th.  Click here for more on the Julian calendar Annunciation feast.  Most Eastern churches celebrate Christmas on January 7th, and so logically their Annunciation feast will be April 7th, though the Armenian Church has Christmas on January 6th but still celebrates Annunciation on April 7th; the Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek-speaking Christian world generally observes Christmas on December 25 and therefore the Annunciation on March 25.  Those churches that do celebrate Annunciation on the 7th of April can consider having a pro-life event on that day and are also welcome to observe the international Day of the Unborn Child on March 25th.  Scroll down for more info on specific practices within these traditions.  Click here for a Travelujah article on the Holy Feast of the Annunciation in the Orthodox Church and related Annunciation celebrations.  Also see the following 2013 article on traditions (including the release of birds) Orthodox Christians to Celebrate the Annunciation (scroll down past the info on their new site to see a photo of the pigeon/dove release with the onion-dome church in the background) -- if not available try the first link in this search list -- or here for a text-only printer-friendly version and view the pic here.

 

*  Orthodox Church (in America) 

Excerpt from the web page of The Nativity of the Holy Virgin, Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the West:

 

“There are many festive hymns with which the church celebrates today’s sacrament of the incarnation of the Son of God. They teach us, the believers, to properly celebrate the day of our salvation; but most frequently, we hear the words ‘Today is the crown of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery that is from all eternity.’”  Read more at http://www.tserkov.org/about_orthodoxy.html -- just click The Twelve Great Feasts and scroll down to the section on the Annunciation -- includes the excerpt from the Ikos of the Matins of the Feast:  Rejoice, you who are the throne of the King:  Rejoice, you who hold Him Who holdeth all!  Rejoice, Womb of the Divine Incarnation!

 

*  Orthodox Annunciation Prayer (Author: Orthodox Church):  Click here and scroll down to read this lovely prayer that begins, "Lord who came down from heaven and stayed in the womb of St. Mary…"

 

*  The Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Annunciation according to the Gregorian calendar on March 25th.  This website notes that it is a fixed feast.  March 25 is also Greek Independence Day.  Click here for more on Greek Orthodox Annunciation resources.

 

*  The Russian Orthodox Church has a beautiful tradition in Moscow of releasing white doves on the Annunciation (celebrated on April 7th according to the Julian calendar).  See the Fast & Fascinating Facts page for details and links to photos. 

 

*  The Armenian Orthodox Church (Armenian Apostolic Church):  The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation on the 7th of April, but this is not a transferred date -- it is fixed on April 7--nine months (minus one day) before their January 6th observance of Christmas.  However, the difference in date is not a result of using the Julian calendar as many Orthodox churches do.  Though their Christmas celebration is only one day apart from other churches in the Orthodox tradition that use Jan. 7th, the Armenians are using the modern Gregorian calendar.  The difference in the Armenian feast date reflects an old tradition of celebrating the Christmas feast of Christ's birth, Epiphany adoration of the Magi, and Christ's baptism together on January 6th (the day when Catholic and other churches commonly celebrate Epiphany alone) -- and this combined feast is now called the "Feast of the Nativity and Theophany."  A detailed explanation of the origins of this feast date can be found at this website or click here for a .pdf version.  The Armenian practice is interesting and instructive in that the adoration of the wise men is a "manifestation" feast revealing the divinity of Jesus, as is the feast of his baptism (when the Holy Spirit descended like a dove revealing Christ's true nature).  Theophany means the visible appearance of God to man, and grouping these postnatal manifestation feasts with Christmas highlights Christ's birth as another form of manifestation--the first time in history mankind can see God in the flesh face to face--the Incarnation revealed (for more information on combined feasts click here).  Counting back nine months minus one day from this January 6th Christmas/Theophany combination feast to an April 7th Annunciation reflects the approximate pregnancy-length interval and has the fortuitous effect of the Armenian Church celebrating Annunciation along with other Orthodox churches that also have an April 7th Annunciation feast but with a different (Julian calendar) origin.  This site has info on the Armenian Apostolic Church of America feast days including the April 7th Annunciation and the nine-month interval.  Another webpage on the Annunciation from the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church can be found here.

 

*  The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church):  The Syrian Orthodox (Indian Orthodox) Church uses the March 25th Gregorian calendar date.  The importance of the feast is reflected in the fact that they celebrate the Divine Liturgy even when the Annunciation comes on Good Friday.  In the Syrian Orthodox Church the word for the Annunciation is "Suboro."  Visit this website for additional information on the Annunciation in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.  

 

*  The Syriac Orthodox Church:  The Syriac church uses the Gregorian calendar for fixed feasts like the Annunciation so it is celebrated on the 25th of March.  One tradition of the Syriac Orthodox March 25th Annunciation observance is to put a "siboro" around one's wrist from March 25th to Easter Monday (or Easter Day) -- a white and red thread interwoven to symbolize that at the moment Mary became pregnant with the unborn Christ by the Holy Sprit, the divine nature (white) was united with a human nature (red).  For more details on this tradition click here.  A listing of Syriac feast days can be found at this website which has a separate webpage here for the Annunciation feast, which they also call Suboro (Sooboro).  For poignant quotes on the Annunciation in an essay (by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas) on the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch Archdiocese of the Eastern United States website click here -- the first quote on the subject reads, "The most celebrated and greatly significant feast in Christendom is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, which falls on March 25th" -- then scroll down to the web page's "Annunciation" subheading for more, including this quote:  "The event of Annunciation of Divine Conception marks the beginning of the two mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption.  In honor of the Holy Virgin Mary Syrian Church Fathers instituted that the faithful read the angel’s salutation at the end of daily offices morning and evening, and even at the end of individual prayers at their will" -- the page also has several lines of poetry on the Annunciation written by Jacob of Serugh on the Trinity, Mary, and the Annunciation from the prayer of the third hour said on Wednesday, including this excerpt: "...Glory be to the Father, who chose her for her humility and adoration be to the son who descended in humility (from high) and dwelled in her. Thanks are due to the (Holy) Spirit who is pleased to dwell in humble ones. Glory be to the one nature of the Trinity…May you, oh, Son of God, through the prayer of Mary, who bore you nine months, keep wrath away from us.") 

 

*  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church refers to the Annunciation as "Feast of the Incarnation" which they call "Tsinset."  Click here for more on this title of "Annunciation Feast of the Incarnation."  It is celebrated on April 7th, the same day the Julian calendar churches celebrate, but using the Ethiopian calendar which names and numbers the months differently, the date is called Magabit 29 (the month Magabit or Megabit spans early March to early April).  They celebrate Christmas on the day we call January 7th, so the pregnancy-length interval between the Annunciation and the feast of Christ's birth is preserved, though their months differ in number the period is equivalent to nine Gregorian calendar months.  Click here for info on this alternate calendar as it relates to the feast days. This feast of Christ's Incarnation is considered to be a day of forgiveness for mankind in the Ethiopian church.  Visit this site, which gives more information on the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar and notes that this is the feast of "His conception."

 

*  The Coptic Orthodox Church:  The Coptic Church, one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, observes the Annunciation on April 7th as do Julian calendar churches, but it calls the date by another name using the Coptic Calendar--the 29th of Baramhat (also known as Paremhotep or Paremhat), which is the seventh month of their calendar and covers early March through early April.  Their Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, so the pregnancy length interval is preserved, though their months are named and divided differently.  Click here for an article titled, "The Feast of the Annunciation" by Pope Shenouda III, which notes the gestational interval and states, "The feast of the Annunciation comes every year on the 29th of Baramhat. There is between it and the Feast of the Nativity which comes on the 29th of Kiahk, a period of nine months that constitutes the period of the holy pregnancy with the Lord Christ.  Thus the feast of the Annunciation is the first among the Lord feasts;" "We bring the good news to people that God had begun the execution of His divine plan for the salvation of the human race; beginning with the operation of the Incarnation by the holy pregnancy."  This site also gives information on where to obtain copies of the booklet as well as publication information ("The Feast of the Annunciation" by His Holiness Amba Shenouda III, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and of the Apostolic See of All the Predication of Saint Mark, edited by Orthodox Coptic Clerical College in Cairo, translated from the Arabic first edition of April 1997, available from http://www.copticchurch.net ).  Another website lists and describes "The Seven Major Feasts of the Lord in the Coptic Orthodox Church" including this quote, "The Annunciation (Baramhat 29, c. April 7): In it we recall the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, and the attainment which the men of God had longed for across the ages, namely the coming of the Word of God incarnated in the Virgin’s womb (Matt. 13:17)."  It is also interesting to note that the Coptic Orthodox Church also celebrates the Resurrection on this same day -- for more on this dual-feast date visit this website that includes the following quote about Mary, the newly conceived Christ, and the Annunciation feast: " "When she had accepted this Divine Annunciation, the Only Begotten Son, the Word of God, who is One of the Three eternal Persons, came and dwelt in her womb, a dwelling, the human race can not comprehend.  And straightway He united with perfect humanity a complete unity inseparable and unchangeable after the unity.  This day then is the first-born of all feasts, for in it was the beginning of the salvation of the world which was fulfilled by the Holy Resurrection of our Lord, saving Adam and his offspring from the hands of Satan."

 

*  The Eritrean Orthodox Church:  Click here for a list of Eritrean Orthodox feasts including the Annunciation, celebrated on April 7th (Baramhat 29th), reflecting the pregnancy length interval before their January 7th Christmas "Feast of the Nativity" celebration.

 

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Other Christian & Non-Denominational Churches:

 

Note:  Depending upon how they are organized, denominations that don't use a traditional calendar or have an abbreviated version (including a wide variety of independent and non-denominational churches) may vary greatly in terms of the holy days they recognize, the titles they use for them, and how they are celebrated.  There may be differences not only within denominations but also between one branch and another.  The examples given below do not necessarily reflect the position of all churches of the given denomination, but represent welcome contributions to the growing awareness of the importance of the Annunciation holy day in Christian history:

 

* Cedar Park Church -- Assembly of God (member of the Assemblies of God):  The Cedar Park Church website has a nicely done webpage dedicated to the importance of the Annunciation.  Titled, "Annunciation March 25--Nine Months Before Christmas," the following excerpt is only a sampling -- read the full text at the website for the context with New Testament quotations:  "In case of the Annunciation, Gabriel’s announcement of the conception of Jesus, we have the ultimate goal of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The fact that God used the process of conception, fetal development, childhood, and youth as preparation is significant and provides the model for understanding human development….March 25, the date of the annunciation, has been important in the church for centuries….Luke Gospel begins with two amazing stories of life within the womb….From the rest of the Bible we know this was the beginning of the mission that would lead to the cross and the resurrection….It is clear that Jesus was Jesus from the moment of conception, not just the moment of birth. This kind of a day helps us to understand the development of Jesus and to consider what all that means. He is the prototype of humanity. He was fully human, illustrating our own lives. If Jesus was Jesus from the moment of conception, then you were you from conception forward."

 

* Epworth United Methodist Church:  The church website mentions the March 25th Annunciation as one of the "exceptions to the Lenten austerity" -- celebrating "the most sublime moment in the history of time."  For more visit its webpage on liturgical seasons, which includes the following:  "On the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we celebrate a feast that propels us into the Christmas mystery.  Jesus, the Savior who will shortly give his life for our sins, is this day conceived in the Virgin Mary's womb."

 

* LDS/Mormon:  Some members of LDS/Mormon churches honor the Annunciation as the moment of Incarnation on March 25th.  For example, see these March 25th Annunciation postings for 2014 and also 2015 advising fellow LDS members on how to "honor the miraculous Annunciation that we celebrate today."

 

* Churches that Commemorate the Annunciation During Advent:  Many churches, Presbyterian for example, may be far more likely to acknowledge the Annunciation on a chosen day in Advent as a preparation for Christmas.  This may be as simple as reading the Gospel text of Luke 1:26-38 regarding Christ's conception/Incarnation, or something more such as the recitation of 17th-century writer John Donne's beautiful "Annunciation" poem with its memorable ending line, "Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb."  For an example of a historical reference to March 25th in a lecture or sermon during the Christmas season see this webpage -- and for a worship service example of the Annunciation incorporated into Advent see the pcusa.org "Eucharistic Prayer for Annunciation text (Advent)".  Even if official worship highlights the Annunciation only in Advent, that doesn't preclude a late March sermon mentioning that the historical Annunciation observance on March 25th is a pregnancy-length nine months before Christmas.  In fact, many churches acknowledge March 25th as a significant day without specifically celebrating it.  Note: Churches often use online calendars with a broad range of Christian observances noted on their respective days far beyond the number that the church using that calendar actually celebrates.  Some will simply list the name of the holy day and label it as an "All Day" event as at this calendar page -- but this is a standard description and may simply mean that no specific events at a particular time are being held.  Regardless of whether your church has had an official March Annunciation observance in the past, don't assume a general calendar reference means an event will take place -- always inquire first and if you have an idea you'd like to share use the opportunity to make a suggestion.

 

Note:  If you do not see an example of acknowledgment and celebration of the Annunciation or March 25th for your faith community, use the search function on the websites for your church and denomination for the terms: Annunciation -or- March 25 -or- Christ's conception -or- conception of Jesus -or- nine months before Christmas -- etc.  If you don't find anything, use a search engine website to find the words and phrases above occurring with the name of your denomination.  Don't assume that if your church has no active pro-life ministry that it has no tradition or recognition of the Annunciation -- it may be that it acknowledges and observes the Incarnational aspect of the day honoring Christ's conception, if not the more recent designation as Day of the Unborn Child.  Having a specific reference to the Annunciation's importance within your faith tradition lays the groundwork for celebration of the day, and is helpful as a reference in suggesting or offering to organize an event.

 

[This page was updated 02/2016]