The Code of Canon Law provides the following general norm
for the Latin Rite of the universal Church:
1. Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is
celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and
is to be observed as the foremost holy day of
obligation in the universal Church. Also to be
observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension and the
Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary Mother
of God and her Immaculate Conception and Assumption,
Saint Joseph, the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul,
and finally, All Saints.
2. However, the conference of bishops can abolish
certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to
a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See.
Depending on one's nation one could have more or fewer
than the ten listed in the Code. For example, the
United States adds her patron (The Immaculate
Conception), as does Ireland (St. Patrick), Canada (St.
Joseph) and many other countries, while dropping several
from the list. The following is the complementary norm
for the United States, providing for 6 holy days, in
addition to all Sundays:
On December 13, 1991 the members of the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States
of American made the following general decree
concerning holy days of obligation for Latin rite
In addition to Sunday, the days to be observed as
holy days of obligation in the Latin Rite dioceses
of the United States of America, in conformity with
canon 1246, are as follows:
1) January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
2) Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the
solemnity of the Ascension
3) August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin Mary
4) November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
5) December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate
6) December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our
Lord Jesus Christ [list numbers are not in original]
Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of
God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption,
or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on
a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend
Mass is abrogated.
This decree of the Conference of Bishops was
approved and confirmed by the Apostolic See by a
decree of the Congregation for Bishops (Prot. N.
296/84), signed by Bernardin Cardinal Gantin,
prefect of the Congregation, and dated July 4, 1992.
It should be noted that the Ascension is celebrated on
Sunday in many dioceses of the US (in accordance with a
decision to allow this transfer), reducing the practical
number to 5 in many places.
Eastern Churches sui iuris
In the Eastern Catholic Churches, besides Sunday, the following are
Holy Days: Christmas, Epiphany (Jan. 6), Ascension, Dormition (Aug.
15) and Apostles Peter and Paul (Jun. 29). Like the Code of Canon
Law, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
provides that each Eastern Church may have particular law
Holy Days and also, with the approval of the Holy See,
suppress some on the universal list.