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Festivals: Roman Catholic Days of Obligation

What are the special days in the Catholic Church?


Catholics believe that there are some days during the year that are so special that every Catholic should go to Mass to celebrate. Of course, every Sunday counts as a special day, but there are seven others.

Sometimes these days are called 'Holy Days' - days that are set aside for something special. At other times they are known as 'Days of Obligation' because Catholics say they ought to go - or they are 'obliged' to go - to Mass. These seven days to remember are:

  • The birth of Jesus (Christmas Day)
  • The baby Jesus being shown to the rest of the world (Epiphany)
  • Jesus going up to heaven (the Ascension)
  • The Body and Blood of Jesus (Corpus Christi)
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, is received into heaven (the Assumption)
  • Saints Peter and Paul
  • All Saints Day

In some countries (where Catholicism is the main faith) these days are bank holidays so schools have a day off. In England only some are holidays. When people are at work there are Masses at different times, including the evening, to make it easier for people to attend. When the date falls on a Saturday or a Monday, the Mass is usually celebrated on the closest Sunday.

  •  Are there any days that you or your family consider special or holy?
  • What do you do on those days?
  • Do you eat anything special or wear special clothes?
  • Do you buy or receive presents?