Holy Day Calendar

Holy Days Overview
(Click on heading [Passover, Pentecost, etc.] for explanation)

Year Passover* Unleavened
Pentecost Trumpets Atonement Feast of
Great Day
2009 Apr 8 Apr 9 - 15 May 31 Sep 19 Sep 28 Oct 3 - 9 Oct 10
2010 Mar 29 Mar 30 - Apr 5 May 23 Sep 9 Sep 18 Sep 23 - 29 Sep 30
2011 Apr 18 Apr 19 - 25 Jun 12 Sep 29 Oct 8 Oct 13-19 Oct 20
2012 Apr 6 Apr 7 - 13 May 27 Sep 17 Sep 26 Oct 1-7 Oct 8
2013 Mar 25 Mar 26 - Apr 1 May 19 Sep 5 Sep 14 Sep 19 - 25 Sep 26
2014 Apr 14 Apr 15 - 21 Jun 8 Sep 25 Oct 4 Oct 9 -15 Oct 16
2015 Apr 3 Apr 4-10 May 24 Sep 14 Sep 23 Sep 28-Oct 4 Oct 5
2016 Apr 22 Apr 23-29 Jun 12 Oct 3 Oct 12 Oct 17-23 Oct 24
2017 Apr 10 Apr 11-17 Jun 4 Sep 21 Sep 30 Oct 5-11 Oct 12
2018 Mar 30 Mar 31-Apr 6 May 20 Sep 10 Sep 19 Sep 24-30 Oct 1
2019 Apr 19 Apr 20-26 Jun 9  Sep 30 Oct 9 Oct 14-20 Oct 21

How Seasonal Holy Days Reveal God's Plan

* Observed the night before


Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread

Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. The Passover lamb was slaughtered on the 14th of Nisan. It was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs on into the evening. That night the death angel passed, spared the Israelites who had put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, and slaughtered the Egyptian firstborn. This began a period of seven days of eating unleavened bread. The 15th and 21st days were holy days on which no work was to be done. The intervening days were not holy days, but no leaven was to be eaten or any leavened products to be in the houses. It was on the Sunday during this period that the first sheaf (omer) of the new harvest—was offered as the Wave Sheaf offering. Only after this offering could the spring harvest begin.

The Church keeps God's annual holy days in their true spiritual intent as constant reminders of the plan of God. It stresses their spiritual meaning just as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 5 when he wrote: "Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Passover: The bread and wine which Jesus instituted at His last supper and which are taken yearly by the Church today are explained symbolically both by Jesus Himself and by the apostle Paul. The wine represents the shed blood of Jesus who gave Himself as an offering to pay for all the sins of mankind. That full and complete sacrifice makes it possible for one to have any and all sins forgiven upon repentance. The wine also represents the New Covenant made between God and the Christian by the blood of Christ.

The bread represents the body of Jesus which was torn and beaten for us all, in Christ's ultimate sacrifice for mankind. Perhaps the fullest discussion of its meaning is found in John 6, in which it is shown that Jesus is the "bread of life." The eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine represent partaking of the eternal life which only God can give. The beaten body of Christ also represents the stripes He took on His back enabling us to claim the gift of divine healing for our physical infirmities (Is. 53:4-5; 1 Pet. 2:24).

The purpose of the foot washing ceremony is explained by Jesus Himself as being to show true humility and the proper sense of service (John. 13:12-17). No one can be greater than His Lord, who is Jesus Christ; yet Jesus was the greatest servant of all and gave more than anyone else for mankind. This spirit of Christian love and service is expressed symbolically by washing another person's feet and then allowing that person to reciprocate.

Thus, the Passover represents Christ's sacrifice for all— both the individual and the world—and pictures the initial step in salvation. Only through acceptance of this sacrifice can one repent and be forgiven. Repentance is the first stave in individual conversion.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread: Leaven is used to symbolize a number of things, both good and bad. In relation to this festival it is a negative symbol, representing sin (1 Cor. 5:6-8). The putting out of leaven from one's house pictures ridding one's life of sin as a continual process. It also represents the action of the new convert in attempting to leave the world (symbolized by ancient Egypt) and in removing sin from his life. Conversely, the positive act of eating unleavened bread represents our conscious desire to actively seek a sinless way of life in following God's laws.

The crossing of the Red Sea is symbolic of baptism (1 Cor. 10:1-2). Ancient Israel crossed the Red Sea sometime during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (some commentators suggest on the last day). The new convert soon finds that it is not so easy to leave "Egypt" (the world), that "Pharaoh's army" (sin) comes pursuing him. But God provides help and leads him safely through baptism, driving back the power of temptation, sin and the world through His Holy Spirit.

The Passover is observed on the evening at the beginning of Nisan 14 in a very solemn ceremony, the most structured of any of the annual assemblies. The order, is first the foot washing service, then the taking of the bread, and finally the drinking of the wine. Before each part of the ceremony appropriate scriptures are read. The service is concluded by a reading of selections from John 13-17. The next night, the evening at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th, is marked by a joyous celebration of small groups in individual homes. This is, of course, the time of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. The entire seven-day period is a time of eating only unleavened food products. All leaven is removed from the homes before sunset at the end of the 14th.



Pentecost (Feast of Weeks): This festival took its name from the manner in which it was determined. Rather than being celebrated on a particular calendar day, it was counted seven weeks or fifty days from the Wave Sheaf Day—hence the term "Feast of Weeks" in the Old Testament and "Pentecost" (Greek "fiftieth") in the time of the New Testament. It marked the end of the spring harvest. The basic instructions for determining the date of Pentecost are clear in Leviticus 23:15-16 which reads as follows according to the Hebrew text: "You shall count beginning with the day after the Sabbath, the day on which you brought the wave sheaf (seven Sabbaths shall be completed), to the day after the seventh Sabbath; you shall count fifty days." In other words, one begins and ends counting with a Sunday, hence a Sunday is the day of Pentecost. This interpretation is confirmed by the practice of the conservative and priestly groups represented by the Sadducees, the Samaritans and the Karaites.*

Granted, other groups used either the first or last holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as their reference for counting, rather than the weekly Sabbath. This interpretation evidently originated in the change of the meaning of the Hebrew word shabbat. This is the word occurring three times in Leviticus 23:15-16 (and translated "Sabbath" each time in the translation above). The original meaning of the word was the weekly Sabbath, but it was occasionally used for the annual Sabbaths, as well, though always clarified by the context. .However, during the intertestamental period, the word came to mean "week."

Thus, the Pharisees took the word "Sabbath" in the sense of "annual Sabbath" and "week," so that they counted seven weeks" beginning with the first holy day. The Essenes, while using a solar calendar, and the Falashas interpreted the word as "week," counting seven weeks from the Sunday after the Passover week. These interpretations, although originating before the first century A,D., were evidently incorrect. The term "Sabbath" was not likely to be used of an annual Sabbath without clarification. Thus, the Pharisaic method was unlikely interpretation. Further, to take the word "Sabbath" in the sense of "week," as the Pharisees, Essenes and Falashas all did, was anachronistic; the word did not have this meaning in Old Testament times.

Spiritual Meaning for the Day of Pentecost

The Church keeps God's annual holy days in their true spiritual intent as constant reminders of the plan of God.

Pentecost is the anniversary of the founding of the New Testament Church. It initiates God's plan of salvation for the world. Just as Pentecost marked the spring or first harvest, so Pentecost symbolizes the first small harvest of individuals through God's Church. In the salvation of the individual, Pentecost represents his receiving of the Holy Spirit after baptism. This Holy Spirit enables him to do what he could not do before, just as the disciples were able to go forward in spreading the gospel in a way totally impossible before the Holy Spirit came. An example is Peter's boldness in proclaiming the gospel so soon after clear cowardice when Jesus was betrayed. (A late Jewish tradition holds that ancient Israel received the law from God at Mount Sinai on Pentecost. This would make sense, since only through God's Holy Spirit can a person keep God's law in its true spiritual intent.)


Feast of Trumpets

This festival, on the first day of the 7th month (Tishri), was celebrated by the blowing of trumpets—hencethe popular name. The Old Testament significance of this day seems to have had its origins in the trumpet sound of alarm used to call people to a state of general warning or preparation for war (Ezek. 33). The spiritual significance will be discussed later. In later times, it marked the beginning of the civil year just as it does among Jews today. (However, it is not clear that this was the case in Old Testament times. A popular theory among Old Testament scholars has been that the new year began with this day in Old Testament times, but recent studies have called this into question and have advanced reasons for believing that in Old Testament times the new year began in the spring with Nisan 1.)

Spiritual Meaning for the Feast of Trumpets

The Church keeps God's annual holy days in their true spiritual intent as constant reminders of the plan of God.

Trumpets were an instrument often used to sound the alarm for war. They were also the instrument of the watchman to arouse the sleeping populace if danger threatened. This festival represents the preaching of the gospel to the world by God's faithful watchmen who have the responsibility of arousing the people from their spiritual slumber (Ezek. 33:1-16). At this point, God has ceased to let mankind go his own way. The time has come to save not just a few in His Church, but all peoples—to save man from himself. Otherwise, man would succeed in destroying himself.

The Day of Trumpets also symbolizes the resurrection of all who died in Christ and the change of all who will be living in Christ. This stunning event—the achievement of eternal life for millions through birth into the Family of God—will occur simultaneously with the return of Jesus Christ at the last trump. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:52).

Jewish tradition adds some interesting parallels. For example, the Day of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is said to picture the most important judgment time, when the inhabitants of the world shall be judged by the Creator. Furthermore, Tishri I was considered by some Jewish commentators to be the beginning. of Creation—which would create a complete parallelism, since this shall be fulfilled by the "Day of the Lord," the time of the Creator's physical return to His creation as Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord and lords.


Day of Atonement

The 10th day of the 7th month had quite an elaborate ritual in Old Testament times and continued up until the destruction of the Temple. It was a commanded fast day in which nothing was eaten or drunk for 24 hours, from the evening of the 9th to the evening of the 10th. On the day itself, the ritual of the two goats was enacted as described in detail in Leviticus 16. Two goats were selected. By drawing lots, one was chosen to represent God and the other to represent "Azazel." In later literature "Azazel" was considered a name for the chief of the demons, i.e. another name for Satan (1 Enoch 9:6. 10:4). The high priest first sacrificed a bull for himself and entered into the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat. Then, he slaughtered the goat "for the Lord" and sprinkled its blood on the mercy seat, as he had done the blood of the bull. In this way the high priest was the only person to ever go into the Holy of Holies, and then only on the Day of Atonement. At all other times, and to all other people, it was off limits. The goat for Azazel then had the sins of the people confessed over it by the high priest. After that it was taken away live into the wilderness and turned loose, symbolically removing all the transgressions of the people away from the camp. Thus, the Day of Atonement symbolized the reconciling of the Israelites to God.
Spiritual Meaning for the Day of Atonement

The Church keeps God's annual holy days in their true spiritual intent as constant reminders of the plan of God.

The Day of Atonement symbolizes both the reunion of God and man after Christ returns to earth, and the binding of Satan to render him inactive. The evils of human nature are the attitude of Satan the devil. As long as the source of evil remains active, evil will have a part in subverting the world. At this time, the sins of the world shall, correctly, be placed on their source, as symbolized by the Azazel goat which was sent away into the wilderness. Satan shall be chained and no longer allowed to deceive the world (Rev. 20:1-3). This is not to diminish our own role in sin, for the Day of Atonement also represents the reuniting of God and man through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of mankind.

The Day of Atonement is kept by a complete fast (no food or drink) from sunset to sunset. (Exceptions are of course made by the individuals themselves in cases of serious illness and the like.)

Feast of Tabernacles and The Last Great Day

Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day: This was a festival period beginning with the 15th day of the 7th month, a holy day, and continuing through the 22nd, another holy day. During this time the Israelites were to build temporary shelters or booths (Hebrew) comparable to that used by a watchman in a field or vineyard. This led to the designation "Feast of Tabernacles" or "Feast of Booths" (Hebrew sukkot). This festival corresponded to the end of the autumn harvest.

A distinction is made between the first seven days of the festival, the Feast of Tabernacles proper, and the last or eighth day. Some passages refer only to a feast of seven days (Deut. 16:15). Leviticus 13:33-36 shows that the last or eighth day is in fact a separate festival. That is, just as the Passover commences the Feast of Unleavened Bread but is a distinct celebration, and just as the Wave Sheaf Day is a distinct celebration even though falling within the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so is the Last Great Day the consummation of the Feast of Tabernacles though considered a festival in its own right.

Spiritual Meaning for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day

The Church keeps God's annual holy days in their true spiritual intent as constant reminders of the plan of God.

Feast of Tabernacles: This festival analogously acts out the Millennium—the 1,000 years of Christ's reign on earth. The true harvest of mankind can now take place. Without Satan—the source of evil—around, all nations can be brought to God. For 1,000 years, a Golden Age shall reign: happiness and peace shall be reality and worldwide salvation shall be. This harvest of persons is far larger than the first as the fall harvest is much the larger harvest season in the agricultural cycle. The Millennium shall be the time when God sets His hand to save the world. It shall be a time of rebuilding, the forging of a new modern society under God's laws.*

* An interesting interpretation of the Feast of Tabernacles as symbolic of the millennial reign of Christ is found in the writings of the late third century Catholic commentator, Methodius. Although he evidently did not keep the festival himself, he perceived it—perhaps reflecting an earlier tradition—as picturing a time when the "earthy tabernacles" would be put off and Christians made immortal would celebrate the true feast (Symposium 9.1).

The Last Great Day: Despite a thousand years of peace and happiness, it must be remembered that untold millions have lived and died without ever having had the knowledge to understand salvation. The Last Great Day represents the time when they shall be resurrected and given that chance—not a second chance but a first chance, a chance they will not have had before. Only then shall God's initial plan for mankind be at an end. Thus, this last great holy day of God pictures the greatest period of salvation for mankind—the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).

The culmination of the plan of salvation is marked by the renewal of the whole creation in the new heaven and the new Earth (Rev. 21). Death and destruction are now no more; human history is now at and end. The Kingdom of God has become eternal.

The Feast of Tabernacles is considered the highlight of the sacred year. It is primarily for this festival that Church members save special funds. Since the Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated only in certain central locations, most members must travel a certain distance to attend, and spend the entire time away from home. While actual booths are no longer built, the same symbolism is maintained by the fact that Church members live in temporary dwellings (motels, hotels, campsites) away from home. Of course, in order to spend the eight days away from home, as well as to meet the expense of travel to and from the place of assembly, saving ahead is necessary (cf. Deut. 14:22-26).