The Church knows that one day of rejoicing just isn’t enough.
Easter is the “Solemnity of Solemnities”—the biggest feast day of the year. It’s so big, in fact, that the Church celebrates it for not one, but eight full days!
For her most important feast days, the Church assigns “octaves”: eight days of rejoicing in which we celebrate each day as though it were the feast day itself.
The tradition of octaves goes back to the 4th century and is possibly connected to one or both of two events.
During the week after Easter and Pentecost, the newly-baptized neophytes would continue to wear the white garments they received at their baptism, rejoicing for eight days in the joyful celebration of their new life in Christ. In the older calendar, the Sunday after Easter is called “Dominica in Albis”—the “Sunday in White”—to commemorate the laying aside of the white garments.
The other event is the dedication of the churches of Tyre and Jerusalem by the Emperor Constantine. This was the first “octave” properly-speaking that we know of, and was done in emulation of the Jewish custom of an eight-day feast in dedicating the Temple.
Octaves underwent many other additions, deletions, and developments over the course of history. Today we celebrate two of them: one for Easter and one for Christmas. The older calendar of the Church also retains the octave of Pentecost.
So, rejoice! As St. Paul would say: “Again, I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Remind yourself of the joy that is ours this Easter week and all year long with our exclusive “Rejoice In The Lord Always” Framed Print. Modern and simple in its design, this elegant piece features the fourth chapter of Philippians with its famous “rejoice” excerpt in big, bold text. A wonderful gift for RCIA, Confirmation, or “just because”! Available today at The Catholic Company!