While many celebrate only the build up to Christmas and the day itself, as a faith community Catholics celebrate Christmas over several weeks from Dec. 25 through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Jan. 8. Christmas day marks the start of the Octave (or eight days) of Christmas. There is much to celebrate over the weeks of Christmas, and much to enter into more deeply. Too often, the days before Christmas are too busy to enter into the meaning of this feast or to reflect on the daily Scriptures and the graces offered to us. This first week is a time for us to enter into the stories of special saints who are associated with the birth of our Lord because of their innocence. During subsequent weeks of Christmas, we return to stories of Jesus’ life and ministry. (from Creighton Online Ministries)
Feast days of the Christmas season
The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) – Dec. 25
(a holy day of obligation)
Monday, Dec. 25, is Christmas Day, the first day in the eight-day celebration of the Octave of Christmas. We receive joy through the story of the Nativity and of our Savior’s entrance into the world in the most humble of ways.
Christmas at the Cathedral: View photos and Mass videos
The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph – Dec. 31
This feast day provides us an opportunity not to reflect upon the “perfect family,” but to ask ourselves how we might be blessed by examining the lives and examples of Joseph, Mary and Jesus, and asking ourselves what graces they could offer us.
It also allows us more time to reflect upon the Christmas story, including the everyday reality that was part of their lives as family – patience, give and take, the self-sacrifice and the love that was a part of their very human interaction together, throughout what we call “the hidden life” of Jesus. That can include all the growing up years of Jesus’ life, what their village was like and how they spoke with each other, as well as what difficulties they might have experienced.
The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God – Jan. 1, 2024
Mary “received Jesus into herself and brought him forth for the whole human family.” (Pope Benedict XVI) Through her intercession, may we be strengthened in our mission to bring Christ to the world.
The Solemnity of Mary falls on a Monday this year. While Mass attendance is always encouraged, whenever this solemnity falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.
The Octave of Christmas, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Pope Benedict XVI on Mary (Homily, Jan. 2012)
Jan. 1 is also World Day of Peace (Resources | Read Pope Francis’ message for the 2024 World Day (multiple languages)
The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Jan. 7, 2024
On Jan. 8, Catholics in the United States celebrate the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. This day commemorates the visit of the magi to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. While traditions have grown to give the “three wise men” names—Caspar, Balthazar, and Melchior—we actually know very little from Scripture about who the magi were or where they came from.
What is important is that their visit to the stable in Bethlehem proved that Jesus, even as an infant, was worthy of homage by all men and women.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Jan. 8, 2024
On Jan. 8, the Church recognizes the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the official end of the Christmas season. Through his own baptism, Jesus became a model for all of us on how we can all be baptized as sons and daughters of God.
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Visit our Christmas resources page.