How many different ranks are there for feasts, and how do you tell what rank a particular feast is?

The ranking system is as follows:

1. Simple commemoration
"*"Has no symbol.
2. 6-stichera commemoration
"*"Symbol: a black mis-shapen semicircle (with the opening to one side) with three dots inside.
"*"At Lord I have cried there are 6 stichera appointed to the saint of the day, rather than 3 from the Octoechos and 3 for the saint.
"*"There are other differences, as well, such as the presence often of a doxasticon (sticheron at "Glory") at the Vespers aposticha, and others.
3. Doxology-rank commemoration
"*"Symbol: The same as for a 6-stichera commemoration, but in red
"*"the Doxology at the end of Matins is sung, not read,
"*"The conclusion of the Matins service is different, as well
"*"a full katavasia is appointed for Doxology-rank commemorations
"*"the proportion of troparia at canon that are dedicated to the saint increases, etc.
4. Polyeleos-rank feast
"*"Symbol: a red cross
"*"the Polyeleos is chanted at Matins
"*"there is a Gospel at matins (after the polyeleos)
"*"there is a Litya at Vespers usually
"*"the Octoechos is set aside
"*"numerous other changes
5. Vigil-rank feast for a saint
"*"Symbol: a red cross in a properly-shaped semicircle (open at the top) .
"*"Vespers and Matins are combined into an All-night Vigil.
"*"In the Russian tradition (at least), the Apostle John, the Theologian is a Vigil-rank saint and certain Polyeleos-rank saints are typically celebrated as Vigil-rank, such as St. Vladimir, St. Sergius and others
6. Feasts of the Theotokos
"*"Symbol: A red cross inside a full circle.
"*"Annunciation, Dormition, etc. In the Russian tradition, the Feast of the Protection [Oct. 1] is also a Vigil-rank commemoration
7. Feast of the Lord
"*"Symbol: A red cross inside a full circle.
"*"Nativity, Theophany, Transfiguration, etc.
8. Pascha

The listing of commemorations, by day, with their appropriate symbols can be found in the Typicon and also the Great Book of Hours (at least in the Russian versions of these texts). Typically, the symbols which denote the rank of the feast are not hard-and-fast, and there is a certain amount of inconsistency in the application of them.

Peter Fekula

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas