February

February is the sixth month of the liturgical year in the Byzantine Rite. This article covers the most important liturgical aspects of the month of February. See the online menaion and the Lectionary for the hymns and readings of each day.

The feast of the Meeting

On February 2, forty days after Christmas, we celebrate the feast of the Meeting of our Lord with Simeon and Anna. This feast celebrates the events that took place when, forty days after his birth, the infant Jesus was presented by his mother and his foster-father Joseph in the Temple in Jerusalem, to obey the prescription of the Law of Moses that every first-born son must be redeemed with a sacrifice; Mary and Joseph made the offering of a poor family, two turtle doves, instead of a lamb. While they were there, they were met my the elder Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who announced that great things would be done by the child they saw before them.

For more about this feast, the The Feast of the Meeting (February 2). This is the last of the winter cycle of connected feasts sometimes called the "Feasts of Light" or "the Winter Pascha", beginning with the Nativity, continung with Theophany, and concluding with the Meeting.

This is a great feast (Great feast), one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church year. (Can you name the others?) It has a single pre-festive day on February 1, with its own troparion and kontakion at the Divine Liturgy which are combined with the hymns for the saint of the day. These pre-festive hymns can be found on page 320.

The hymns of the feast-day Divine Liturgy can be found on pages 320-324:

This feast is normally considered a feast of the Theotokos, but like the Annunciation (March 25), it has its own Entrance Hymn which departs from the usual pattern ("O Son of God, <reason for the feast>, save us who sing to you: Alleluia!"). Here is the Entrance Hymn for February 2, which is sung to the melody of the Tone 1 feastday troparion that follows it:

Entrance Hymns for Meeting

It some places, following a Roman Catholic custom associated with the Western feast of Saint Blaise (whom we commemorate on February 11), candles may be blessed on this feast day.

The feast of the Meeting has seven post-festive days, concluding with the leave-taking of the feast on February 9. On these days, the hymns for Sunday or the saint of the day are combined for the feast (but see below).

February and the Great Fast

As we saw in the discussion of January in the Byzantine Rite, the very beginning of our preparation for Pascha (the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee) may fall as early as January 11, or as late as February 14. The first day of Lent may be as early as February 1, and as late as March 8. This means that February has a dual character: any particular day the month may be a rather ordinary saint's day, or a day of strict fasting (with no Divine Liturgy), depending on the date of the upcoming Pascha.

As a result, the Byzantine calendar assigns very few major feasts to the months of February and March. When a feast DOES take place during these months, the Menaion provides detailed rules on how the celebration is to take place. For example, when Pascha is very early, the feast of the Meeting may be combined with one of the pre-Lenten Saturdays or Sundays, and its post-festive days may be modified or entirely suppressed, particularly if they fall during the last week before the Fast (Cheesefare Week) or the first week of the Great Fast. Always consult the Annual Typikon for these days.

Other feast days in February

There are no vigil feasts in February, and only two polyeleos feasts (Polyeleos feast):

If a saint's feast of polyeleos rank or above falls on Sunday, the feast day hymns are always added to those of the Sunday Divine Liturgy. In this way, the Church reminds even those who only occasionally come to Church of the witness and teaching of our most important saints and witnesses to Christ. All this is, of course, subject to the rules for celebrating feasts which fall during the Great Fast or its preparatory period.

The Divine Liturgy hymns for these feasts can be found in the February volume of the MCI Monthly Menaion.

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