Low Sunday

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Low Sunday

Alb Sunday, Antipascha, Dominica in albis, Laud Sunday,
Octave of Easter, Quasimodo Sunday, White Sunday

Low Sunday is the Sunday after Easter. In early Christian times it marked the end of the ceremonies surrounding Easter baptisms. During that era many adult converts to the Christian religion were baptized at the Easter Vigil service. After their baptisms the priest or his assistants dressed them in white robes. These robes symbolized their joy and their new membership in the Christian church. In the week following Easter Sunday they returned to church daily for further instruction in Christian doctrine and ceremony. They wore their white robes during these church visits. On the Sunday after Easter they appeared in church dressed in their white robes for the last time. After the close of the service they returned the robes and began their roles as ordinary members of the congregation. As time passed priests baptized more and more people on days other than Easter. Accordingly, the baptismal customs associated with Easter Week faded away. They did leave one mark on the holiday, however. In western Europe, the Sunday after Easter was long known as Dominica in albis, a Latin phrase meaning "Sunday in albs" or "Alb Sunday." The name calls attention to the albs, or white robes, worn by the newly baptized and is therefore sometimes translated as "White Sunday." This day has also been called "Quasimodo Sunday" after the Latin phrase from the introit, a short prayer assigned to the day's church services. The Latin version of this prayer begins, Quasi modo geniti, meaning "As newborn babes," a phrase taken from Christian scripture (1 Peter 2:2). Today most English speakers call the Sunday following Easter Low Sunday. Most scholars believe the name evolved from "Laud Sunday." In Latin laud means "praise." It is the first word of a hymn sung before the Gospel reading, a selection from Christian scripture describing the life and teachings of Jesus, set for this day. Others suspect that Low Sunday might have developed from "Close Sunday," a name which refers to the close of Easter Week festivities.

Low Sunday serves as the last day of the Easter octave. In the language of the church an octave is an eight-day period defined by a festival and the seven days that follow it. Around the year 389 the Roman emperor made it easier for the newly baptized to attend to their religious duties during this week by declaring it a holiday. Indeed, people celebrated Easter Week both as a holiday and a holy time. Many refrained from working and attended church daily during this week. The celebrations following Easter gradually diminished, however. By the late eleventh century Church authorities expected the faithful to attend church only three times during this week. By the turn of the twentieth century only Easter Monday remained as a day of obligatory church attendance for Roman Catholics. In 1911 Roman Catholic authorities released the faithful from this last Easter Week obligation.

Many call the week following Easter Sunday "Easter Week." The week has also been called "White Week" in reference to the white garments worn by the newly baptized, or the "Week of New Garments." The Greeks call the week following Easter "Bright Week." They sometimes call the Easter festival itself Lambri, meaning "Bright," a name that evokes the fires and lights associated with the Easter Vigil service (see also Easter Fires). In Greek Orthodox and other Orthodox churches the doors to the sanctuary remain open during this week in honor of the Resurrection. Among the Orthodox the Sunday after Easter is sometimes referred to as Antipascha, a name signifying that the day closes the Pascha, or Easter, festival. The Orthodox also call the day "St. Thomas Sunday," since church services on this day retell the story of St. Thomas the Apostle's encounter with the risen Christ.

Further Reading

Blackburn, Bonnie, and Leofranc Holford-Strevens. The Oxford Companion to the Year. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1999. Cowie, L. W., and John Selwyn Gummer. The Christian Calendar. Springfield, MA: G. and C. Merriam, 1974. Johnson, E. "Easter and Its Cycle." In New Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 5. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967. Metford, J. C. J. The Christian Year. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1991. Rouvelas, Marilyn. A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America. Bethesda, MD: Nea Attiki Press, 1993. Weiser, Francis X. The Easter Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954.

Web Site

"Post-Easter Sundays," a document describing the beliefs and practices of Orthodox Christians concerning the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost. Posted on the Orthodox Church in America web site: . html
Encyclopedia of Easter, Carnival, and Lent, 1st ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2002

Low Sunday

Between March 29 and May 2; Sunday after Easter
The Sunday following the "high" feast of Easter, it is also known as Quasimodo Sunday, Close Sunday, or Low Easterday . "Low" probably refers to the lack of high ritual used on Easter, and not to the low attendance usual on this day. The name Quasimodo Sunday comes from the Introit of the mass which is said on this day. In Latin it begins with the phrase Quasi modo geniti infantes —"As newborn babes...." The famous character Quasimodo in Victor Hugo's novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is said to have been found abandoned on this day, which marks the close of Easter week.
DictDays-1988, pp. 21, 70, 93
EncyEaster-2002, p. 360
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 92
OxYear-1999, p. 626
RelHolCal-2004, p. 94
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
* The Sunday after Easter is often known as Low Sunday, because of the 'flat' feeling after the excitement of HolyWeek.
In fact the Sunday after Easter had been nicknamed "Low Sunday".
(Many Presbyterians refer to that Sunday as "Low Sunday' so that in itself was amusing!) At the beginning of the service, instead of going to the pulpit, I stood in front of the front pew and told five or six jokes in a row.
* The Rev Val Clarke celebrated Holy Communion at Holy Trinity at 10.30am on Low Sunday, in the absence of the vicar the Rev Keith Griffin who is on sabbatical leave until August.
And let me remind you in concluding of the words of St Paul in the liturgy on this Low Sunday of the Easter Season: