is a period of celebration attached to one of the Great Feasts celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches (roughly equivalent to what in the West would be called an Octave
"Octave" has two senses in Christian liturgical usage. In the first sense, it is the eighth day after a feast, reckoning inclusively, and so always falls on the same day of the week as the feast itself. The word is derived from Latin octava , with dies understood...
The celebration of the Great Feasts
The feast of the Resurrection of Jesus, called Pascha , is the greatest of the feasts of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In addition, there are other days of great importance in the life of the Church - the Twelve Great Feasts ....
of the church year are extended for a number of days, depending upon the particular Feast. Each day of an Afterfeast will have particular hymns assigned to it, continuing the theme of the Feast being celebrated. At each of the divine services during an Afterfeast, the troparion
A troparion in Byzantine music and in the religious music of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a short hymn of one stanza, or one of a series of stanzas. The word probably derives from a diminutive of the Greek tropos...
Kontakion is a form of hymn performed in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The word derives from the Greek word kontax , meaning pole, specifically the pole around which a scroll is wound. The term describes the way in which the words on a scroll unfurl as it is read...
of the feast are read or chanted. The canon
A canon is a structured hymn used in a number of Eastern Orthodox services. It consists of nine odes, sometimes called canticles or songs depending on the translation, based on the Biblical canticles. Most of these are found in the Old Testament, but the final ode is taken from the Magnificat and...
of the feast will usually be chanted on every day of the Afterfeast (if two canons were chanted on the day of the feast, they will be alternated on the days of the afterfeast). Some of the Great Feasts of the Lord will have a special canon composed of only three odes, called a Triode
, which will be chanted at Compline
Compline is the final church service of the day in the Christian tradition of canonical hours. The English word Compline is derived from the Latin completorium, as Compline is the completion of the working day. The word was first used in this sense about the beginning of the 6th century by St...
on each day of the Afterfeast.
Most of these Great Feasts also have a day or more of preparation called a Forefeast
(those Feasts that are on the moveable Paschal Cycle
The Paschal cycle in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, is the cycle of the moveable feasts built around Pascha . The cycle consists of approximately ten weeks before and seven weeks after Pascha. The ten weeks before Pascha are known as the period of the Triodion...
do not have Forefeasts). Forefeasts and Afterfeasts will affect the structure of the services during the Canonical Hours.
The last day of an Afterfeast is called the Apodosis
("leave-taking", lit. "giving-back") of the Feast. On the Apodosis, most of the hymns that were chanted on the first day of the Feast are repeated. On the Apodosis of Feasts of the Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...
, the Epistle and Gospel from the day of the Feast are repeated again at the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...
The Forefeasts and Afterfeasts break down as follows:
| Days of
| Name of
|| Days of
|| Nativity of the Theotokos
The Nativity of the Theotokos, celebrating the birth of Mary, is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Eastern Orthodox liturgical year. It is celebrated on September 8 on the liturgical calendar .According to the sacred tradition of the Orthodox Church,...
| 8 September
|| Exaltation of the Cross
|| 14 September
||Entry of the Theotokos
|| 21 November
|| Nativity of our Lord
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....
| 25 December
|| Theophany of our Lord
Epiphany, or Theophany, meaning "vision of God",...
| 6 January
|| Meeting of our Lord
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which falls on 2 February, celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and some Eastern Catholic Churches, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts, and is sometimes called Hypapante...
| 2 February
|| Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....
| Sunday before Pascha
|| Annunciation of the Theotokos
The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...
| 25 March
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...
| Sunday of the Resurrection
Mid-Pentecost or Midfeast, also Meso-Pentecost ; is a feast day which occurs during the Paschal season in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite....
| Twenty-fifth day of Pascha
|| Ascension of our Lord
|| Fortieth day of Pascha
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...
Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western Christian liturgical calendar, and the Sunday of Pentecost in Eastern Christianity...
| Fiftieth day of Pascha
|| Transfiguration of our Lord
The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported in the New Testament in which Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant upon a mountain. The Synoptic Gospels describe it, and 2 Peter 1:16-18 refers to it....
| 6 August
|| Dormition of the Theotokos
The Dormition of the Theotokos is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of the Theotokos , and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on August 15 The Dormition...
| 15 August
Four of these Afterfeasts have a special commemoration on the day following the Feast, called a Synaxis.
In this context, a Synaxis
In Eastern Christianity , a Synaxis is an assembly for liturgical purposes, generally through the celebration of Vespers, Matins, Little Hours, and the Divine Liturgy....
commemorates a saint who is intimately bound up with the Feast being celebrated. The four Synaxes are:
- Synaxis of Ss. Joachim
Saint Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions. The story of Joachim and Anne appears first in the apocryphal Gospel of James...
Saint Hanna of David's house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ according to Christian and Islamic tradition. English Anne is derived from Greek rendering of her Hebrew name Hannah...
(9 September—the day after the Nativity of the Theotokos)
- Synaxis of the Theotokos (26 December—the day after the Nativity of our Lord)
- Synaxis of the Forerunner
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...
(7 January—the day after the Theophany of our Lord)
- Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel (26 March—the day after the Annunciaton) If the Annunciation falls during Holy Week the Synaxis is omitted.
Other Great Feasts that have Afterfeasts (although no Forefeasts) are:
- The Nativity of the Forerunner (June 24)
- The Beheading of the Forerunner (August 29)
- The Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29).
Each of these three has only 1 day of Afterfeast, and no Apodosis. These are not counted among the Twelve Great Feasts (i.e., Great Feasts of the Lord or Theotokos).
Even though the Patronal Feast
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...
of a parish church
A parish church , in Christianity, is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches....
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...
is treated as a Great Feast, it has no Forefeast or Afterfeast.
The Feast of the Procession of the Cross (August 1), though it is not counted as a Great Feast, has one day of Forefeast, and no Afterfeast.