Trinity Sunday is a celebration occurring in all Western liturgical churches, marking the first Sunday after Pentecost. In Eastern Christianity, it marks the Sunday of Pentecost. The Christian observation celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity or the three Persons of God - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Initially, there was no special Office or day to celebrate the Trinity, but during a period of time when Arianism was spreading (where it was believed Jesus was not coeternal with God) the Church created an Office for Sundays to celebrate the Trinity. This day is known as the only major Christian festival that celebrates a Church doctrine rather than an event in its history.
As Trinity Sunday is dependent on Easter and the Pentecost, it is a movable feast, so when does it fall this year and what celebrations are traditional in Christianity to observe Trinity Sunday? This is what you need to know.
When is Trinity Sunday?
Trinity Sunday is eight weeks after Easter Sunday, and the first Sunday after Pentecost in Western Christianity. In Eastern Christianity, it is the Sunday of Pentecost. Although a moveable celebration, the earliest Trinity Sunday can be is 17 May, and the latest is 20 June.
This year, for both Western and Eastern Christianity it falls on 4 June 2023. Similarly, last year, in 2022, Trinity Sunday fell on 12 June for both Western and Eastern Christianity. However, next year the dates will be separate and Trinity Sunday will fall on 26 May for Western Christianity and 23 June for Eastern Christianity.
How is Trinity Sunday observed?
Trinity Sunday is celebrated throughout all Western Christian Churches. When an Office was created for the celebration, devotion towards the Trinity became an important feature of worship. This makes Trinity Sunday one of the few feasts where it is celebrated as a doctrine rather than an event.
In 1911, Pope Pius X raised the ranking of the Trinity to first class, meaning it was directly associated with the events of Jesus Christ’s life. Trinity Sunday gained this status because it was after the first Pentecost that the Trinity was proclaimed to the world.
In Catholicism, Trinity Sunday is also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and previously marked the end of a three-week period where church weddings were forbidden. The liturgical colour given to Trinity Sunday is white.
Trinity Sunday is the Sunday of Pentecost, and the Sunday after Pentecost is called All Saints Sunday. Liturgical colours are often not used in Eastern Christianity, but for Trinity Sunday the colour green is used for Pentecost and the Afterfeast.
During this time, Churches offer special services to focus on the theme of the Trinity, revising what the Trinity is and how the Father, Son and holy spirit are all one God. However, it is important to note Trinity Sunday is not a bank holiday in the UK, like Easter.
Trinity Sunday also holds an important symbol, a triangular shape with three overlapping val rings featuring images of the crown, which represents the father, the lamb, to represent the son, and the dove in the third loop. This unity represents the eternity of God’s glory.