“Christmas Time is Here!”
According to many stores and most of society, Christmas begins on December 24 and ends on December 25. Decorations that have been up since Thanksgiving are sometimes promptly removed on December 26 and walking into a store on the 27, it’s hard to believe Christmas happened at all.
However, Christmas is more than one day. There is an octave and a season. Moreover, every day should be a little Christmas. Let me explain!
An octave is a period of eight days to celebrate special solemnities. The Octave of Christmas lasts from December 25 until January 1, New Year’s Day. During the Octave, each day is as if it were Christmas. The Gloria is sung at Mass and Priests wear white.
There are many beautiful feasts during the days of the Octave: December 26 is the feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr; December 27 is the feast of Saint John the Evangelist; December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents; and The Feast of the Holy Family is the first Sunday after Christmas or December 30.
“On the Twelfth Day…”
After the Octave, there are still four more days until the twelfth day of Christmas – the Epiphany. This marks the end of Christmastide.
So…Advent lasts until Christmas Eve. Christmastide lasts from Christmas Eve until the Epiphany and the Octave of Christmas lasts from Christmas Day until New Year’s Day.
An End at Last
The Christmas liturgical season officially ends on the Monday after the Baptism of Our Lord, or close to that feast, depending on the year and how the days all fall into place.
In the Old Rite, Christmas lasted until Candlemas: The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, which is celebrated on February 2. Ending on Candlemas, the Christmas season has 40 days, similar to the 40 days of Lent. The Presentation was traditionally known as Candlemas because of Simeon’s prophesy in Luke 2: 29-32 –
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in sight of all the peoples, a LIGHT for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
It’s Christmas Time All Year
Christmas is a time to celebrate the Birth of Jesus into the world – the Son of God coming as a little baby to save each one of us from sin and death.
Every Christmas, Jesus is born in our hearts and yet – why should we only pay attention to this only once a year? Every day of every year we should welcome Jesus into our hearts to live with us and be with us. Christmas is what you make of it but it should really be about love, joy, and giving.
Every day can be filled with the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of love and joy that Jesus brings and that we can carry to each other. “The Word became Flesh and made His dwelling among us….” And that is a reason to celebrate all year round!
I pray that we all can make room in our hearts for the King of Kings: this Christmas and always.
“Christmas, my child, is love in action.” Dale Evans Rogers