It’s April 25th, and that means it’s Saint Mark’s Day!
Or rather, normally it would mean that. The question is if there’s another feast day that takes precedence. And the answer to that comes down to the question of which calendar you’re using. This week is Easter Week, which means something different if you’re using a modern Prayer Book (like the 1979 or the 2019) or a traditional Prayer Book (like the American 1928, English 1662, etc.).
The traditional Easter Week only appointed two special feast days – Monday and Tuesday – and thus Saint Mark’s Day will be celebrated today, Wednesday, on schedule. But the modern calendar has special collects and lessons for the whole week, which take precedence over the major feast days, meaning that the observance of Saint Mark’s Day gets bumped back to the next available day: Monday April 29th.
If you find this rather complicated, don’t worry – liturgical calendars do take some getting used to, and there are “ranks” to our various holy days that determine which one takes precedence over the other in the event that they land on the same day. For the most part the Anglican Prayer Book tradition keeps it pretty simple; Western Catholic tradition before the Reformation was much more elaborate, and even though the Roman Catholics have reformed, streamlined, and simplified their liturgical calendar in the past few decades they’ve still got a notably more complicated system than we have.
If you’re interested in a “hierarchy of precedent”, according to the Prayer Book tradition, here it is:
- The Sundays of Advent, Christmas Day, the Holy Name (Circumcision) of Jesus, the Epiphany, the 1st Sunday after Epiphany, the Last Sunday before Lent, the Sundays of Lent and Eastertide, the days of Holy Week and Easter Week, Ascension Day, the Sunday after the Ascension, Pentecost Sunday, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, the Ember Days, and the Rogation Days
- The Major Feast (“Red-Letter”) Days of the Prayer Book
- 1st & 2nd Sundays after Christmas, Sundays in Epiphanytide, and Sundays after Trinity Sunday
- National Days
- Commemorations and Other Occasions
Within item 1 and item 5 long-standing tradition sets out further layers of precedent for feast days. But nothing in item 1 will ever land on the same date as one another, so there’s no functional reason to break up that list into further items, and item 5’s break-down can be explored another time.