All day I've been reading posts on Facebook from friends so proud that their Christmas decorations and tree are no longer taking up valuable living space in their homes. As devout practicing Catholics, in our home we have only just begun to celebrate this blessed Christmas season.
Though commercially, our society would have us believe that Christmas ends on December 25. On the contrary, the celebration has only just begun on that blessed day. Here's the explanation of how the seasons break down according to the catechism of the church...
The Christmas season runs from December 25th until the Baptism of the Lord, January 9. The Octave of Christmas runs from December 25th through January 1st.
Typically here in the USA, the Catholic church celebrates the Advent season from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the Sunday before Christmas. That is why in most Catholic churches in the USA, you don't see the nativity and other related religious artifacts popping up until Christmas Eve. The Christmas SEASON runs from December 25th until the Baptism of Jesus, which is listed on the 2013 calendar as Wednesday, January 9. Because Jesus’ Baptism is not a Holy Day of Obligation, that celebration moves to the following Sunday on the church calendar. Yes, the 12 Days of Christmas go from December 25th through January 5th, and are then followed by the Epiphany, which is also moved to a Sunday for the same reason -- it's not a Holy Day of obligation in the USA.
With virtually no time from between the Advent to Christmas seasons, it’s always a mad rush at Basilica of St. Louis, King (The Old Cathedral) in Saint Louis, Missouri USA for such a small group of experienced volunteers to get the 25 or so fir trees lit up and positioned on the side altars, pine wreaths hung on hooks and centered under each window, red bows and pine cones strategically positioned, 30+ poinsettia plants in their decorative containers to display, the heavy cast iron nativity scene (which dates back to 1800s) out of storage and into place, and extra candles lined up around the altars.
These are just some snapshots taken on my iPhone at The Old Cathedral this Christmas. The finished product is much more spectacular in person, and it’s especially beautiful during Midnight Mass at Christmas Eve.
When does your Christmas tree and all the decorative trimmings come down? In our home, we celebrate both Advent and Christmas seasons—leaving the tree and nativity up—through the Baptism of our Lord.
Merry Christmas and New Year’s Blessings to all!