Annunciation Celebration

Conception Day of Christ March 25


History of the Feast

The Annunciation of the Lord on March 25 marks the conception day of Christ nine months before Christmas. Some scholars believe the date of Christmas was determined in the fourth century by counting forward from March 25 which was the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Julian calendar. Because of passages from the prophets Isaiah and Hosea which compare the coming of the Redeemer to the coming of spring, Christians traditionally associated the conception day of Christ with the first day of spring perhaps even as early as the third century.

Although the Annunciation had various alternate names such as the "Conception of Christ" and the "Redemption of the Lord" just as Christmas today has various alternate names, the oldest and most time-honored name is the Annunciation. In a sermon one tenth-century Anglo-Saxon preacher calls the newly-conceived Christ "that heavenly golden treasure" who on Annunciation day March 25 "descended into the world from the throne of our Creator."

A holy day and civil holiday throughout Europe, the feast was marked in different locales with various forms of celebration: outdoor processions, fairs, carol singing, plays, traditional foods, and folk customs. Perhaps because England's most famous pilgrimage shrine at Walsingham was associated with the Annunciation, in England three Masses were celebrated on this day. Although detailed information about the character of these three Masses is not available, it is probable that one was the Mass of the Virgin, one the Mass of Christ, and one the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

The Annunciation was considered such a pivotal day in the year that many countries in Europe began their yearly calendars on March 25. This practice first began in the year 525 and was still the custom in the American colonies when George Washington was a boy. Every fifty years when a holy year is declared in Rome it begins on March 25.

Many churches around the world bear the name "Annunciation." At these and other churches one still today finds special Annunciation observances such as processions and music. Some families celebrate the day at home with a special dessert like the Annunciation cake to be found on the link below. Anyone who likes to celebrate the Annunciation in their home, school, or church may go to the links below to access information about various ways past and present of celebrating the day.


Annunciation Cake

Carols of the Annunciation

Colonial New Year's Day

Annunciation Processions 

Bell Ringing

The Tichborne Dole

John of Ford

A Prayer Service