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Feast day

The calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints and referring to the day as the feast day or feast of said saint. The word "feast" in this context does not mean "a large meal, typically a celebratory one", but instead "an annual religious celebration, a day dedicated to a particular saint".

The system arose from the early Christian custom of commemorating each martyr annually on the date of his or her death, or birth into heaven, a date therefore referred to in Latin as the martyr's dies natalis ("day of birth"). In the Eastern Orthodox Church, a calendar of saints is called a Menologion. "Menologion" may also mean a set of icons on which saints are depicted in the order of the dates of their feasts, often made in two panels.

As the number of recognized saints increased during Late Antiquity and the first half of the Middle Ages, eventually every day of the year had at least one saint who was commemorated on that date. To deal with this increase, some saints were moved to alternate days in some traditions or completely removed, with the result that some saints have different feast days in different calendars. For example, St. Perpetua and Felicity died on 7 March, but this date was later assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas, allowing them only a commemoration (see Tridentine Calendar), so in 1908 they were moved one day earlier. When the 1969 reform of the Catholic calendar moved him to 28 January, they were moved back to 7 March (see General Roman Calendar). Both days can thus be said to be their feast day, in different traditions. The Roman Catholic calendars of saints in their various forms, which list those saints celebrated in the entire church, contains only a selection of the saints for each of its days. A fuller list is found in the Roman Martyrology, and some of the saints there may be celebrated locally.