Classification of Feasts
In the Orthodox Church, liturgical celebrations are ranked according to a hierarchy of several classifications. Each class as its own characteristics and is expressed in the divine servcies and disciplines of the Church in a particular way. See also feast day.
Pascha is in a class of its own, ranking above all other commemorations.
The lesser classes—Third Class Feasts, Fourth Class Feasts, and Fifth Class Feasts—commemorate the lives of the saints, holy events, and holy objects. Between the Third Class and Fourth Class there are two Intermediate Classes.
First Class Feasts—Feasts of the Lord
- Elevation of the Holy Cross, September 14
- Nativity of Christ (Christmas), December 25
- Theophany, January 6
- Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Pascha
- Ascension, forty days after Pascha
- Pentecost, fifty days after Pascha
- Transfiguration, August 6
- Most of these feasts have both a forefeast and a leavetaking (exceptions: Palm Sunday has neither; Ascension and Pentecost have a leavetaking but no forefeast).
- An All-Night Vigil is appointed for the eve of the feast.
- At Great Vespers the kathisma reading from the Psalter that follows the litany of peace is omitted unless the feast coincides with a Sunday, in which case the first kathisma (Psalms 1-8) is read at Great Vespers on Saturday evening as usual (exceptions: the first kathisma is omitted on the eve of Pentecost and on the eves of Nativity, Theophany, and Transfiguration when those feasts fall on a Sunday).
- Festal Orthros
- The polyeleos (Psalms 134 and 135) is chanted immediately after the second poetic kathisma (on a Sunday it replaces the amomos (Psalm 118) as the third reading from the Psalter).
- Select Psalm verses from the eclogarion can follow the polyeleos, if desired.
- There is a gospel pericope for the feast (chanted from the holy doors and without a veneration following).
- The praises and the great doxology are chanted.
- At the Divine Liturgy for the feast, the patronal troparion of the temple is suppressed.
- The divine services are for the feast alone; all other commemorations are suppressed (even on a Sunday).
- When the feast falls on a fasting day, the fast is relaxed to permit fish, wine, and oil.