Christmas music may be off the radio and decorations starting coming down at the town common and the stores, but the season has just begun! We know stores start their secular Christmas in August (or earlier!), but not a single Christmas decoration will be in proper Catholic churches until Christmas Eve. Before that, they’re in purple and pink in anticipation. But now, finally, we can say, “Merry Christmas!” to our friends and family. Now, it is appropriately Christmastide.
Many Days of Christmas
On our journey through the Christmas season – yes, it’s not just one day – we have many feasts. Bear in mind, this blog is in 2022, so some dates will changes across different years.
- Dec. 26th, Feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr – Stephen was performing signs and evangelizing with grace and wisdom when they threw him out of the city and stoned him to death. (Acts 6 & 7)
- Dec. 27th, Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist – According to Catholic.com, John is considered Jesus’s Beloved Disciple. He is the younger brother to the Apostle James the Great. After the Assumption of Mary, Romans banished John to the Greek island of Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation.
- Dec. 28th, Feast of the Holy Innocents – It may be said that the first martyrs were actually the infants slain in search of Jesus, though they didn’t know why they were killed. Today, we can remember their sacrifice as we recall the current slaughter of innocent blood through abortion.
- Dec. 29th, Feast of Saint Thomas Becket – When King Henry pushed for Thomas to become Archbishop of Canterbury, he had hoped to put limitations on the Church. When Thomas refused to obey the king over the Lord, he became an enemy and needed to flee to France. A few years later, he was found and killed in his own Cathedral. (Vatican News)
- 30th, Feast of the Holy Family of Mary and Joseph – A perfect family, a Blessed Mother, a blessed step-father, and a Holy Son. The Holy Family reminds us how we are to be in our own families, kind, loving, compassionate, truthful, just, and understanding.
- Dec. 31st, Feast of Saint Sylvester – Pope Sylvester was known for taking in Christians, even those sought for death like Timothy of Antioch. When Timothy was martyred, Sylvester was accused of hiding his treasures. He explained, “Timothy left to me only the heritage of his faith and courage.” (Catholic News Agency)
- Jan. 1st, Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God – When the eight days were completed after Jesus’s birth, they took Him to be circumcised according to the Law. On this day, we celebrate Mother Mary and her Motherhood to the Lord.
- Jan. 8th, Epiphany of the Lord – On Epiphany Sunday, we recall the wise men from the East – however many there were – that brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn King. They saw a celestial sign, the convergence of heavenly bodies, and traveled a long distance to visit their King. Gold is for a King. Frankincense is for a High Priest. Myrrh for His burial, because they knew He would suffer and die for His cause.
- Jan. 9th, Baptism of the Lord – When Jesus was baptized by His cousin, John, His ministry became public. This often ends the Christmas season liturgically.
- Feb 2nd, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – Called Candlemas, this day celebrates Jesus’s presentation to the temple where Simeon declared to Mary, “this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)
Continuing the Celebration
While you may not get your real tree to last till February, there’s no reason to take the Nativity down early. If the true meaning of Christmas gives you a warm feeling and a somber reminder of the preciousness of life, then all the more reason to keep it going a little while longer. Many push through the twelve (or so) days of Christmastide, well some keep up their Christmas celebration all the way to Candlemas.
There’s so much more information on Candlemas and the Christmas/Epiphany season here. This chart may help as well. Really, in the end, the point isn’t about what decorations you have up but how you’re living the faith.
So, go ahead and hear some more Christmas music – even if you started early. Make another batch of Christmas cookies. Even dare to keep your Christmas lights up a bit longer. (Who wants to take them down in the cold anyway?)
When someone asks why you’re still celebrating, just smile big and say, “Christmas season has only just begun!” They may smile, they may laugh, they may shake their heads, but you’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it to recognize that Love came down to be with us, as one of us. That’s not something that can fit in a one-day celebration.
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