Christmas does not end on December 25

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

This reminds me of a famous joke that goes, “What is common between Christmas and women?  Answer:  They are no good after the 25th.”  Funny, but not true.  Christmas is still good after December 25, and women can still be pretty even after they reach 25 (years old).

In the malls and on the city streets, decorations would go down or lose their meaning after December 25.  People would lose the taste for Christmas and would now look forward to celebrating New Year.  This is what differentiates people who celebrate Christmas commercially rather than spiritually.  For faithful Catholics, the Christmas season begins at midnight on December 24 and continues well into January. While the rest of the world is winding down their Christmas celebrations, we’re just gearing up for ours. It makes you feel sorry for those who miss out the feasts and festivities that come after Christmas. They all have such deep meaning and are so rich with tradition. People should look forward to every one of them and try to do something for home and family to make those days special.

Let’s start with Christmas Octave. Since the Eighth Century, the Church has observed octaves – or eight days of celebration following a feast or solemnity. Christmas has its own octave, and so does Easter. For Christmas, the octave begins on Christmas Day and ends on January 1, which is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.  Both during and after the Octave of Christmas, there are number of feasts to commemorate and celebrate and here’s the list:

December 26 – St. Stephen (the first martyr)

December 27 – St. John the Apostle

December 28 – Holy Innocents (children murdered by Herod in the effort to destroy the Christ Child)

December 31 – Holy Family

January 1 – Holy Mary, Mother of God

January 6 – The Epiphany of the Lord (visit of the Magi or Three Kings)

January 7 – The Baptism of the Lord

Throughout those days, we hear in the daily readings the stories of the Nativity, but also of the prophecies of Simeon and Anna at the presentation and the finding of Jesus in the temple as well as the initiation of St. John the Baptist’s ministry. The Christmas season is filled with exciting scenes and happenings, all pointing to Jesus as the Christ. They all tell us about the magnificence and mission of the Infant born in Bethlehem that one day would be King.  That’s the whole point of Christmas, isn’t it?

The reason we have Christmas at all is because we are grateful and filled with joy that the God-Man has come to earth to bring salvation to all of mankind.  He is the Christ. That’s worth celebrating for a good long time.  According to the to the Church, the Christmas season officially ends with the Baptism of the Lord, observed this year on January 7, 2024. That gives us 13 days to celebrate Christmas. And we should love that.