Liturgical Year Themes, a Plugin for Wordpress

November 30th, 2008 / 50 Comments

This plugin cycles a stylesheet for each day and season of the Liturgical year.

Churches that follow the liturgy change their sanctuary aesthetics according to the liturgical date or season. This plugin uses CSS to allow these same changes to be made to a website’s theme. The Liturgical Year Themes Wordpress plugin uses the date() and easter_days() php functions to calculate the current liturgical day or season. A correlating CSS file is loaded which allows the designer to override their default theme with one fitting for the current time on the Christian calendar. The plugin also provides the option of printing the day or season’s title in the document markup. The Liturgical Year Themes plugin is targeted at church websites, but can also be useful for journals and blogs that value the liturgy.

*Currently this plugin follows the Liturgical year practiced by western churches. In the future I may include an option to select the eastern liturgical calendar as an alternative.


  • Make your website’s appearance consistent with the movements of the liturgical year.
  • Print the title of the current liturgical day or season.



  1. Upload the /liturgical-year-themes/ folder to your blog’s plugins folder (usually /wp-content/plugins/) and activate it.
  2. Upload the /liturgy/ folder into your current theme directory (usually /wp-content/themes/your-themes-name/).
  3. Add <?php get_liturgical_time(); ?> to your header template file after the style.css reference and before the closing </head> tag.
  4. Edit the stylesheets in the /liturgy/ directory to override your theme’s default styles.

Included CSS files


*editing the file names will require editing the corresponding reference in the plugin function.


you can use <?php get_liturgical_time('title'); ?> to print the date or season title (you will need to wrap it in your own html tag) and <?php get_liturgical_time('name') ?> to print a dashed referenced suitable for file names.

How It Works

Advent days and seasons are calculated according to their fixed calendar dates. Easter days and seasons are calculated using the php function easter_days() which provides the number of days between March 21 and Easter, after which all of the Easter dates and seasons can be derived. Fixed calendar dates include an additional test to allow for the possibility of leap year.


This plugin is still very much a work in progress so I would love any comments, criticisms, or suggestions on how it can be improved. I plan on releasing a more mature version which will include an admin menu to control options and preferences sometime before the Season of Lent.

Comments (50)

  1. Liturgical Wordpress, part deux | Ted Carnahan / December 2, 2008 /

    [...] website based on the liturgical calendar, Scott Lenger has up on his site a Wordpress plugin to do exactly that. I can’t decide if that’s good or [...]

  2. EuripidesMac / December 2, 2008

    Hearken to my words, Great Scott!

    Thou hast made an incredible WordPress theme. Verily, it rocketh mightily, and with a sacred vengeance against those things carnal, mundane and bewitching…

    I reckon there’s a good purpose for times and seasons reminding us of Our Father…eh? Perhaps the church had to do something like this because we’ve lost the ability to use nature to inform us of the “times and seasons”?

    Just a thought.

    Hey, thanks again.


  3. George / December 4, 2008

    I like the concept of the program you have written but my own site would look funny in “violet.” Now, what would be a great help is a calendar that has those dates that can be posted on a site.

  4. Peter O / December 5, 2008 /

    Scott, this is absolutely fantastic. If you don’t mind I’m going to have a go at modifying this to be more precise over the next few weeks through Advent, bringing up on my blog all the Saints Days and O Sapientia references, together with a connected picture. Do you want a copy of my updated plugin php file?

  5. Scott Lenger / December 5, 2008 /

    @George Developing a full calendar is beyond the scope of this plugin, but incorporating what I’ve done to work with an existing calendar plugin is worth considering.

    @Peter Thanks for the compliment. By all means you are encouraged to improve upon the plugin. I’ll be looking forward to what you come up with.

  6. Peter O / January 1, 2009 /

    Happy New Year!!!

    If you pop over to my website ( today or tomorrow you’ll see this plugin altered with extra liturgical dates, and then used to call not only a picture for the day but also the relevant collect.

    What do we think?

  7. Peter O / January 5, 2009 /

    I’ve done some more work on this to allow a collect to be added into the main php file. I now have a setup on my site where the sidebar calls the day name, the title and the collect and also an appropriate picture.

    I think the next step would be to write an interface to the wordpress SQL database to allow the collect and title to be stored on the db and for extra days to be added. I also need to figure out how to calculate days after Christmas and specifically Sundays before Lent. At the moment I am calling the exact day number for Sundays in January.

  8. Lindsey / January 22, 2009 /

    I would love to see some screenshots so that I would know how this looks live! Is this one theme that changes colors with the calendar, or is this a plugin that selects a theme from your installed themes based on the calendar?

  9. Scott Lenger / January 22, 2009 /

    @Peter That’s snazzy. I have a few improvements in mind as well (more along the lines of making the implementation easier for those without techincal knowledge). If/when I move forward with that I’ll be looking to build off of what you have done so thanks for keeping me informed on the progress.

    @Lindsey The plugin triggers a series of blank CSS files according to the date. It is up to you to code them however you like. If you have something in mind I can see about walking you through how that would be coded.

    Great pictures of Europe by the way, I especially like this one of Greece.

  10. Peter O / January 23, 2009 /

    Not a problem Scott.

    I’m continuing to add to the php file and would be willing to contribute stuff when you’re ready.

  11. Lindsey / January 27, 2009 /

    Thanks! It was a wonderful vacation.

    I’m actually looking into having someone design a basic WordPress template for me (I’m very much NOT a designer/coder), and then have the header and colors change with the church seasons, so when I saw this plugin I thought it might make things easier to implement.

    Any thoughts on when you’ll be releasing the updated version you refer to?

  12. Paul J / February 5, 2009

    I also would love to implement something like this, however, just for adding a css stylesheet as opposed to using as a full scale wordpress theme. I.e. I would like to simply change the navigation related colors and background images depending on what phase of the liturgical year the current date is in. is the updated version available yet and/or by following the above tutorial and using this plugin, will I be able to adapt it to a simplified stylesheet changer? I’m planning on using a jQuery tutorial I found to actually do the stylesheet switching, i simply need the script that determines what phase of the liturgical year it current is. any help is appreciated. thanks.

  13. Paul J / February 5, 2009

    i also meant to ask if any manual changing needs to be done for future years? thanks.

  14. Scott Lenger / February 5, 2009 /

    @Paul The plugin is not a theme, but it lets you modify your theme, hence the slightly confusing title. It uses php to calculate the current season and links to a CSS file specific to that season. No fancy-pants jQuery needed and it should work well into the future.

    Sorry if the theme language threw you. I suggest re-reading the instructions a little more carefully. Basically if you’re comfortable editing CSS and your theme’s header.php file then you’re all set.

    Feel free to email me if you have other installation questions.

  15. Completed Blog Design : Reading Red Letters - Custom Illustrations, Graphics, Blog Designs - Leanne Wildermuth : Artist by Nature / June 4, 2009 /

    [...] She found a plugin that would rotate themes with each change of season in the Liturgical year. Scott Lenger’s Liturgical Year Themes plugin does just [...]

  16. Reading Red Letters 2.0 | Reading Red Letters / June 8, 2009 /

    [...] really cool if my blog could do that?”  Then I found this neat plugin by Scott Lenger called Liturgical Year Themes.  I knew that I wanted Leanne to do the re-design (both because she does beautiful work and [...]

  17. Derek / July 15, 2009 /

    Anybody want to tackle a mod of this plug-in to use the Jewish Festival/Feasts/Holiday dates instead of the Christian Calendar? Base it on Passover, rather than easter?

    Might be able to cough up a few bucks for the effort.

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  19. Leanne / November 10, 2009 /

    Hi Scott,

    When upgrading, I’m seeing that the call to the .txt file doesn’t appear to be supported any longer - the hook in the header is not working. Also, on line 71, Ordinary Time should be ordinary-time.

    Your help is greatly appreciated!

  20. Peter Ould / November 11, 2009 /

    Hi Scott,
    Having used this for almost a year on, I now have a full Anglican liturgical calendar created, together with pictures and icons. Interested?

  21. Lindsey / December 13, 2009 /

    Hi Scott, just checking in! As Leanne commented above, we’ve had a little trouble with the plugin upgrade and as a result are still using the old version. Just wondering if you’d had a chance to read her comment - thanks!

  22. Reinhard PP Lumbantobing / May 6, 2010 /

    Hi Scott, thanx for the great works. But, i have a problem. I saw that this calendar isnt match for our liturgical year calendar. I’m from Indonesian Church on HKBP. We have a lot of liturgical weeks which i cant found on that calendar. Will you help me to solve my problem? I really glad if you want to guide me by email. Thanx alot. May God bless you. :)

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