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Corpus Christi in the United Kingdom

Many Christians in the United Kingdom, especially those of Roman Catholic faith, observe Corpus Christi in honor of the Holy Eucharist. It is also known as the Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ, as well as the Day of Wreaths.

Is Corpus Christi a Public Holiday?

Corpus Christi is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Hands holding a Communion wafer
Communion wafers are usually offered at a church service during Corpus Christi.
©iStockphoto.com/MKucova

What Do People Do?

Corpus Christi is mainly celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church, but it is also observed in a few Anglican churches in the United Kingdom. Many Christians, particularly those who belong to the Catholic denomination, receive Communion on this day.

Some people, particularly children, receive their first Communion during Corpus Christi. This practice, also known as the Eucharist, involves people accepting consecrated bread and wine (or grape juice), which according to Christian faith are Jesus Christ’s body and blood. Corpus Christi usually falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday although some churches may celebrate it on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.

The town of Arundel, in south-east England, has celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi for more than a century. Celebrations include a festival of flowers, which features a carpet of flowers in the Cathedral’s central aisle. The flowers are usually open to the public. The festival also includes a mass and a Blessed Sacrament procession from the cathedral to the town’s castle.

Public Life

Corpus Christi is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.

Background

Corpus Christi is a festival that has been celebrated by many Christians, particularly the Catholic Church, in honor of the Eucharist since 1246. The name “Corpus Christi” is a Latin phrase that refers to the body of Christ. This event commemorates the Last Supper on the day before Jesus’ crucifixion, as described in the Bible. Corpus Christi is primarily celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church but it is also included in the calendar of some Anglican churches.

According to some sources, Corpus Christi was celebrated in England from 1318 onwards, while others say that it was introduced in England from Belgium between 1320 and 1325. Special Corpus Christi plays and pageants were customary in England prior to 1547. Corpus Christi guilds often staged these events. Such traditions have been revived in Oxford.

Symbols

Symbols that portray the event may include: an image of a host (consecrated bread) and chalice to depict the Holy Eucharist; an altar; and a ciborium, which is a chalice-like container used to store consecrated hosts of the sacrament of Eucharist, or the Holy Communion.

About Corpus Christi in other countries

Read more about Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuJun 3Corpus ChristiChristian 
2011ThuJun 23Corpus ChristiChristian 
2012ThuJun 7Corpus ChristiChristian 
2013ThuMay 30Corpus ChristiChristian 
2014ThuJun 19Corpus ChristiChristian 
2015ThuJun 4Corpus ChristiChristian 
2016ThuMay 26Corpus ChristiChristian 
2017ThuJun 15Corpus ChristiChristian 
2018ThuMay 31Corpus ChristiChristian 
2019ThuJun 20Corpus ChristiChristian 
2020ThuJun 11Corpus ChristiChristian 

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