Friday, February 21, 2014

The Liturgical Calendar (or the Church's Year)

"Purple and Green, Red and White....."

With the Liturgical Calendar the children see the importance of preparing for the 3 big feasts of the church:  Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.  They also see how important the "growing time" (i.e. Ordinary Time) is!
Today we unveiled one of the the most impressive works of the Level 1 Atrium:  the Liturgical Calendar, which teaches that Christ is the center of our year and that there are cycles and patterns to our worship.  This particular calendar (made from a sort of masonite material that was just leftover packing stuff from a furniture shipment) is MUCH bigger than I've ever seen.  These are usually the size of a large dinner plate and are usually made of wood.  This just goes to show:  you can make these works with whatever you have handy and modify to suit your group.  The gentleman who made this is a seasoned grandpa, so he made chunkier pieces that are safe both because they are too big to choke on and because there are no pointy pieces.

For single use with just a few children you could make this with construction paper or make necklaces with colored pony beads (thanks to Dominican Sister Mary Charles for the necklace idea!).
Your liturgical calendar needs to have 3 concentric circles.  The outer ring separates the year into the Cycle of Easter and the Cycle of Christmas (the largest rings seen above).  The medium-sized ring should be made of 52 equal-sized wedges (in our design the 3 feasts of the year--Easter, Christmas and Pentecost--become rays that take the place of 3 of those wedges).  The smallest ring defines the seasons:  Advent, the Christmas Season, Ordinary Time, Lent, and the Paschal Season.

Once the wood is cut and primed, you're ready to paint!  
 It's a confusing puzzle to create and to put together, so just keep singing the song to yourself as you go:
"Purple and green, red and white
Are the colors of the year..........
Purple for preparation,
White is for celebration,
Green is the growing time,
Red is for Pentecost."
Paint the Pentecost wedge with red.  Later you can add the dove as the symbol for the Holy Spirit.  Note:  some atria use flames as the symbol for the Holy Spirit.  You just need to be consistent across the works in your room.
I wanted the lettering to look nice, so I used a compass to create a guideline.
I found a pretty font, printed out the words I needed for labeling, wrote them onto my calendar pieces and then went over that with a Sharpie.  These steps took a LONG time of careful concentration!
I also made a control chart by tracing all of the calendar pieces onto an old piece of foam core,  labeling everything and coloring it in.  That way the children can move everything from the puzzle to the control chart and back again. 
So far, the only complaint I've had is that the symbol I painted for Pentecost looks like an airplane instead of a dove!
Lots of focus!
One important thing to point out:  while a clock goes around clockwise, we use this calendar counter-clockwise to remind us that "God's time is not our time."

Many thanks!

Thanks very much to this friend of the Legion of Mary for creating this work!


  1. Hello, I'm from France, and really what a great job!!!
    But can you explain me, please, how young children can understand what this circle means? What do they know about the Year, the time going on. I think this notion is very abstract for them?
    I ask you that because in France we are at the beginning of CGS and we discover all with delight, and we have a lot of question!

  2. Dear mg, Hello! Thank you for your thoughtful question. It's a good one. My notes from training say to introduce this to children who are 4+ and who have had an introduction to the liturgical colors. These two girls are familiar with the colors, and may just be beginning to see cycles in the things around them: in the seasons in nature, for example. In days gone by they would be familiar with the analog clock, but these girls may not have seen those much! I am a big believer in exposing a concept over and over, letting it sink in over time, and giving the young child the "Big Picture" early on. I hope that helps! God bless you.

    1. Thank you Sarah, yes that helps me! It's right, with young children it's very very important to repeat, and repeat again, to see the same things by an other way, etc. Really, you help me much focussing my thought on this very point! (I hope you can understand my english...)

  3. Hello Sarah, I'm drawing my liturgical calendar as well, but this is the first time I've heard that it should go counteclockrwise ? I understand the meaning, but isn't it confusing for young children ? Thanks and happy Easter!

  4. Clotilde, I looked up some info from the materials manual of the CGS USA organization, and--sure enough--we go counterclockwise. Here's what it says: FAQ: What is the correct movement of the Liturgical Calendar?

    The Liturgical Calendar moves counterclockwise. This is in keeping with Maria Montessori's version of the Liturgical Calendar as a reminder that "God's time is not our time."

  5. Would you indulge my currently non-functioning brain and say how many of each color and in which order, please? THANK YOU!!!

  6. If you order one, it will come with the right number of wedgies. In general it should include 52 wedgies, with 10 to paint Purple (4 for Advent, 6 for Lent); 31 Green (for Ordinary Time); 8 White (2 for Sundays of the Christmas Season and 6 for Sundays of the Easter season) and you can paint one each for CHRISTMAS - (White with Gold or Yellow Star); EASTER - (White with Gold or Yellow Cross); and PENTECOST - (Red with flame or the dove). Mine is a little different, as those last three wedgies are long rays, but it really doesn't matter. Hope that helps! The CGSUSA site is a great resource.

  7. Replies
    1. Look this up on Etsy. Several people make them.

  8. However it very well may be an incredible alternative, contingent upon how the church raising money coordinators set up the churchgoers and the network for this gathering pledges exertion.Church fundraising ideas

  9. Alicia A Silva-McAuliffeJanuary 13, 2021 at 7:54 PM

    How big is the circle?