Liturgical Colours

The United Church of Canada does not prescribe a particular set of colours for vestments and church decorations. A number of colour schemes have been used in recent centuries, some of which are quite complex. They were first mentioned in the twelfth century.

Liturgical colours draw the attention of worshipers to the rhythms of the liturgical year. However, schemes for the use of colour should be regarded as suggestions and not as absolute rules.

The use of red as sign of blood and fire is easily explained, as is the use of white for purity in some cultures. Reasons for the use of other colours are less accessible. In practice, gold is often substituted for white and may suggest more immediately the glory implied by the major feasts for which white is designated.

The scheme of white, green, violet (purple), and red (and also black) was first legislated in rubrics by Pope Pius V in 1570, but local customs persisted for a long time. It became popular outside the Roman Catholic Church during the last century. Blue was added for the season of Advent because it is an ancient liturgical colour and was chosen to distinguish Advent from the season of Lent, whose character is different.

Above information is from the Canadian Church Calendar, when it was published jointly by The United Church of Canada and The Anglican Church of Canada. Creation Time, the time from the Sunday after Labour Day until Thanksgiving Sunday, is not a church season but a period when congregations celebrate that creation is an integral part of the Christian Year, as described at this United Church of Canada site. Further information about liturgical colours can be found at The Voice, published by the Christian Resource Institute, and the Vanderbilt Divinity Library website. The table below shows a colour scheme for the different seasons, adapted from these sources.

Season Period Colour
Easter Easter Sunday – Day before Pentecost (Apr 16 – Jun 3, 2017) Gold or White
Pentecost (Jun 4, 2017) Red
Season after Pentecost Day after Pentecost – Day before Trinity (Jun 5 – Jun 10, 2017) Green
Trinity (Jun 11, 2017) Gold or White
Day after Trinity – Saturday after Labour Day (Jun 12 – Sep 9, 2017) Green
Creation Time (Sep 10 – Oct 8, 2017) Orange
Thanksgiving Day – Day before Advent (Oct 9 – Dec 2, 2017) Green
Advent Advent 1 – Christmas Eve (Dec 3 – Dec 24, 2017)  Blue or  Purple
Christmas Christmas Day – Epiphany (Dec 25, 2017 – Jan 6, 2018) Gold or White
Season after Epiphany Day after Epiphany – Shrove Tuesday (Jan 7 – Feb 13, 2018) Green
Lent Ash Wednesday – Day before Palm Sunday (Feb 14 – Mar 24, 2018) Purple
Palm Sunday – Maundy Thursday (Mar 25 – Mar 29, 2018) Red or Purple
Good Friday – Holy Saturday (Mar 30 – Mar 31, 2018) Black
Easter Easter Sunday – Day before Pentecost (Apr 1 – May 19, 2018) Gold or White
Pentecost (May 20, 2018) Red
Season after Pentecost Day after Pentecost – Day before Trinity (May 21 – May 26, 2018) Green
Trinity (May 27, 2018) Gold or White
Day after Trinity – Saturday after Labour Day (May 28 – Sep 8, 2018) Green
Creation Time (Sep 9 – Oct 7, 2018) Orange
Thanksgiving Day – Day before Advent (Oct 8 – Dec 1, 2018) Green