What are the Holy Days of Obligation?

Holy days of obligation are feast days on which Catholics are required to attend Mass and to avoid other works.

Observance of the holy day of obligations is part of Sunday’s duties, it is the church’s first commandment and is listed in Canon 1246 in the Canon Code of 1983.

The Holy Obligation Days are days other than Sundays on which Catholics are required to participate in the Mass, the primary form of worship.

Any feasts celebrated on Sundays (such as Easter) are normal Sunday duties and are therefore not included in the “Holy Day” list.

Let us understand everything you need to know through this detailed guide.

What is the meaning of the Obligation?

Many people have misunderstood that Catholics must attend mass on sundays and holy days.

This is not an arbitrary rule, but part of a universal moral life-the need to do good and avoid evil.

The Catholic Church (paragraph 2041) describes the obligations listed in the doctrine of the church as:

“The minimum necessary for the growth of love for God and neighbors in prayer and moral effort.”

As Christians, Catholics should do these things anyway.

The church uses church precepts (which lists the holy duty days) only to remind believers that believers must improve holiness.

What does the Code of Canon Law mention about the Holy Days of Obligation?

The Canon code of Catholic Latin etiquette lists (in Canon 1246) ten universal obligatory holy days.

What does the Code of Canon Law mention about the Holy Days of Obligation
The Code of Canon Law mention about the Holy Days of Obligation

Although with the permission of the Vatican, the bishops conference of each country can modify the list.

Sunday is the day to celebrate the mystery of the Passover according to the apostolic tradition, and it is regarded as the most important obligatory holy day for the universal church.

Also to be observed are the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the day of Jesus ’ascension and the supreme flesh and blood, the holy Virgin Mary.

The assumption of innocence and holiness of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the apostles’ St. Peter and Paul, Last is the All Saints Church

However, the Bishops ’Conference may abolish certain obligations on Holy Day, or transfer it to Sunday with the prior approval of the Apostolic Assembly.

What are the Holy Days of Obligation as per Catholics?

Currently, the Catholic Church has 10 Holy Days for Latin worship, while the Eastern Catholic Church has 5 Holy Days.

What are the Holy Days of Obligation as per Catholics
What are the Holy Days of Obligation as per Catholics

In the United States, only six sacred duty days are observed.

 Holy DayDate of ObservanceSignificance
Solemnity of MaryJanuary 1The role that the Blessed Virgin played in the plan of salvation
EpiphanyJanuary 6Christ’s revelations to man
Solemnity of St. JosephMarch 19The life of the foster father of Jesus Christ
Ascension40 days after EasterWhen the Lord Jesus Christ had risen and ascended into heaven
Corpus ChristiThursday after Trinity SundayThe institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion
Solemnity of Saints Peter and PaulJune 29The two greatest apostles, whose martyrdom established the preeminence of the Church at Rome
AssumptionAugust 15The Blessed Virgin Mary’s death and her rising into heaven
All Saints DayNovember 1The martyrdom of Christian saints
Solemnity of the Immaculate ConceptionDecember 8The conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne
ChristmasDecember 25The birth of Jesus Christ
List of Holy Days of Obligation as per Catholics

What are the Important Norms stated by United States Catholic Bishops?

In 1991, the bishop of the United States petitioned the Holy See to abolish three universal obligations Holy Day, Corpus Christi (Christ ’s holiest body & blood), Saint Joseph, Saints Peter, and Paul on Sunday.

 Therefore, the United States Catholic Bishops Conference (USCCB) lists the following Holy Days of Obligation in the United States:

  1. On January 1, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
  2. Thursday, the sixth week of Easter, the solemn ascension
  3. On August 15th, the solemn ascension of the Virgin Mary
  4. November 1, the solemnity of all saints
  5. The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8
  6. The solemn birth of the Lord Jesus Christ on December 25

Also, “Whenever on January 1, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin, or November 1.

The solemnity of all the saints falls on Saturday or Monday, Mass is abolished.”

The U.S.C.C.B obtained permission from each church province in the United States in 1999 to decide whether to celebrate on a traditional day (40 days after Easter Sunday, Ascension) or the following Sunday (43 days after Easter).

Is Immaculate Conception a Holy Day of Obligation in Catholics?

Is Immaculate Conception a Holy Day of Obligation in Catholics
Immaculate Conception a Holy Day in Catholics

Immaculate Conception is considered as a holy day of obligation in Catholics, feast is organized this day at parts of Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain, Uruguay, and the United States.

This feast commemorates Mary, the mother of God, celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It refers to the pregnancy of the Virgin Mary in St. Anne’s womb.

The anniversary of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8. This is an important date in the history of salvation. Even if, 8th December is Saturday or Monday, this holiday will never be abolished.

However, if December 8 is Sunday, celebration of the Immaculate Conception will be transferred to Monday, December 9.

This is because Sunday in Advent takes precedence over any other feast.

 When the celebration is transferred, rather than naturally on Monday, the obligation to participate in the Mass will not be transferred.

Does Eastern Catholic Church have a different stand on Holy Days of Obligation?

The Eastern Catholic Church is regulated by its own “Oriental Church Canons”, which lists the following holy obligation days in Canon 880:

Except for Sunday, the common holy day for all Eastern churches is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Epiphany, Jesus Ascension, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, and the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

But especially approved by the Apostles’ meeting of the church’s special law, which prohibits Holy Day obligations or transfers them to Sunday.

Why the Holy Days of Obligation are different in Hawaii than the USA?

Hawaii is part of the United States, but it is located in a part of the world, and most of the surrounding parishes belong to the South Pacific Episcopal Conference (CEPAC).

As a result, Hawaiians are particularly obsessed with regulating Sundays based on the surrounding parishes.

Therefore, since 1992, Hawaii has only two sacred days (except Sundays) “The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin” (December 8) and Christmas (December 25).

Why attending Holy Days of Obligation is so important?

Our lives are busy, we face many distractions. We may not see God or become insensitive. Maybe we have to sacrifice ourselves to rearrange our schedule or bring some inconvenience to normal life.

Why attending Holy Days of Obligation is so important
Attending Holy Obligation Days

So? We cherish the mystery of our salvation, which should take priority over the urgent needs of living in this world.

Remember that at the Last Supper, Jesus reminded the apostles that although they live in this world, they do not belong to this world (John 17: 13-19).

Holy days of Obligation can help us remember the same situation.


In the United States and other countries, the bishop has permission from the Vatican to repeal the requirement for Catholics to hold masses on certain holy days of obligation, which are on Saturdays or Mondays.

Because of this, some Catholics have become confused about whether certain Holy Days are, in fact, Holy Days of Obligation.

But what is needed is we must pause to ponder, celebrate, and live the mystery of salvation by marking each Sunday.

These special holy events, and the lives of those who are exemplars of faith with the offering of the Holy Mass.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What days are holy days of obligation in the Catholic Church?

The following days must also be observed: The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.

Why is Ash Wednesday not a holy day of obligation?

Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation. It comes the day after Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day. It marks the first day of Lent.

Is missing Mass on a holy day of obligation a mortal sin?

Missing Sunday Mass is not a mortal sin, says Archbishop. Not going to Mass every week isn’t necessarily a mortal sin, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin, has said. He also said it is not necessarily a mortal sin not to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

Is Good Friday a holy day of obligation?

Attendance at the liturgical service (which is not Mass) on Good Friday, a public holiday, is also generally observed, although it is not a holy day of obligation.

How are holy days of obligation determined?

Holy days of obligation, in the Roman Catholic Church, religious feast days on which Catholics must attend mass and refrain from unnecessary work. Although all Sundays are sanctified in this way, the term holy days usually refers to other feasts that must be observed in the same manner as Sunday.