Good Friday Annunciation

This year Good Friday fell on 25 March, the Feast of the Annunciation. This coinciding happened in 1910, 1921, and 1932, during the twentieth century, and 2005 and this year, 2016, this century. The next time it happens will be 2157.

Don’t forget that there is the early-church/Jewish theory that important events happened on the same date: the incarnation (Annunciation) and the crucifixion happened on the same date.

Western practice now is to transfer the Annunciation to the Second Week of Easter. Roman Catholics transfer it to “the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter” (this year 4 April):

As to the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, whenever it falls on any day of Holy Week, it shall always be transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter. Other celebrations are omitted in that year. (RC Table of Liturgical Days according to their order of precedence​ 60)

The “Transitus of Saint Benedict” (his passing from this world to the next March 21) also occurred in Holy Week. So some do not follow the above rule of “other celebrations are omitted in that year”:

Both the Transitus of Saint Benedict (21 March) and the Annunciation (25 March) are delayed until after the Octave of Easter when their celebrations may take place. The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is celebrated Monday, 4 April 2016, and the Passing of Saint Benedict is celebrated Tuesday, 5 April 2016.

The Episcopal Church moves The Annunciation to “any open day within the week” following “Easter Week” (BCP page 17):

4 April — anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but because Easter fell so early this year, many places today observe the Annunciation of Our Lord (transferred) but we won’t do that until tomorrow because today we celebrate a patronal feast, the Transitus of Our Holy Father Benedict.

If you want to explore some of the possible changes that have happened in the West with regard to the coinciding of Good Friday and the Annunciation this post and its comments may be helpful.

While in the West the feast of the Annunciation is transfered – that is not the case in Eastern Orthodoxy:

Annunciation is never transferred, but always celebrated on its calendar date. How this is done varies by tradition. The Byzantine rite has all sorts of rules for just about every day with which Annunciation could coincide and how to deal with it: if you’re a geek like I am, it makes for interesting reading. In my tradition, Annunciation trumps just about any day in Lent, which means that the Office and Liturgy of Annunciation replace the Office (and Liturgy, if not an aliturgical day) of the day. During Holy Week, it generally supplants the Office of the day up to and including the Sixth Hour, but the Ninth Hour of the day may be taken from the Holy Week services (with no prostrations, since the Liturgy has been celebrated), followed by the Vespers of the next day.

A few years back, when, for those of us exclusively on the Gregorian calendar, Annunciation coincided with Good Friday, it was as I described, except that the order went like this:

Thursday, 24 March: in the evening, Vespers and Compline (festal).
Friday, 25 March: Midnight, Matins, Third and Sixth Hours (festal), Liturgy (festal); after breakfast, Matins of Good Friday and the rest of the Holy Week services with no prostrations (which directive was largely ignored by the people, for whom the prostrations are a necessary element).

Annunciation is known by the term “Suboro” in Syrian Orthodox Church. It is to be noted that the feast of Annunciation is very important among Syrian and Indian Orthodox Churches. It is so important that, both Churches celebrate Divine Liturgy even if Annunciations happens to occur or holy or good Friday. Divine Liturgy or holy ‘Qurbono’ is otherwise not celebrated on Good Friday since the altar is stripped of all altar vessels and covered in black on Good Friday depicting sorrow on the death of Jesus Christ.

And if you are into “weird stuff”:

A single thorn held to have been taken from Christ’s crown of thorns that traditionally ‘bleeds’ each time that Good Friday falls on March 25, has done so again this year.(Read more here).

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