So the day which was first will also be the eighth, so that the first life might not be done away, but rather made eternal. ~ St. Augustine
Early church writings and practice prescribed certain feasts to be celebrated as an “octave.” That is, during the liturgical year of the Armenian Church, there are feasts celebrated with eight succeeding days equally designated to that feast. Thus, the Feast of Theophany as an octave lasts not just one day on January 6, but for eight days, beginning January 6 and culminates eight days later on the Feast of the Naming of the Lord, a day that reminds us of our own naming as “Christian” at our baptism, traditionally done on the eighth day following a child’s birth. The Gospel reading for Badarak on the eighth day of Theophany and Feast of the Naming of the Lord reads,
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:21)
The question that naturally arises is what is the significance of celebrating Theophany, and other octave feasts for eight consecutive days?
Seven Days in a Week?
The practice and theology of celebrating certain feasts as an octave is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which took place on a Sunday. Prior to this event, the common understanding of the weekly cycle was that of seven days, and theologically, it was on a Sunday that God began the creation of the world. But on the day of Christ’s resurrection something new was inaugurated. This is why fourth-century Cappadocian Church Father, St. Gregory of Nazianzus instinctively refers to the celebration of the Resurrection as the anniversary of our salvation, a “second creation.”
The Eighth Day
Because Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” is always a celebration of the resurrection of Christ, the day of a second or new creation, it has been transformed into what the early church referred to as the “eighth day.” Another fourth-century Cappadocian Father, St. Basil the Great, writes,
The Lord’s Day is great and glorious. The Scripture knows this day without evening, having no other day, a day without end; the psalmist called it the eighth day, since it is outside of time measured in weeks.
Sunday, in the Christian sense, is considered to be a day that lies beyond the limits of the ordinary weekly seven-day cycle. The rhythm or cycle of the week is now grounded in the celebration of the Badarak, a celebration and proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His salvation and restoration of creation. Therefore, during an octave celebration, it is proper to celebrate Badarak on each of the eight days to repeat the celebration of the feast.
The week as we typically know and live is related to time, while the eighth day is eternal, outside of time. It is an everlasting day without hours, days, months, or years, and the Badarak is the sacrament in which we share in that everlasting day and share in the everlasting life of Christ, which He promised to those who love Him and do His will.
Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. (II Corinthians 5:17)
We live in the Eighth Day! The new has come! Blessed is the revelation of Christ!