So when does Christmas really end? Don’t let the stores fool you into believing that Christmas begins in mid November and ENDS December 25 (or maybe the 27th for stores that keep the music going a little longer for latecomers). When the stores take down the decorations it’s time to kiss Santa and the reindeer goodbye, but keep saying hello to Baby Jesus. He’s only just gotten here. Why push him out the back door so quickly?
Christmas is far too big of a feast to last for just one day, or even two or three. Christmas and Easter are such important celebrations that the Church continues to celebrate them for an “Octave” or eight days. But the season doesn’t stop there, as “The 12 Days of Christmas” suggests. Twelve days brings us to the feast of the Epiphany, or January 6, and many Catholics take down their trees and decorations on or after this day. But the season continues. It ends, liturgically, on the Baptism of the Lord, which is celebrated on the Sunday AFTER the Epiphany. This year, the Baptism falls on January 12, making this year’s official Christmas season 19 days.
But is that all? Not really, because the spiritual celebration of the season (i.e. the celebration of the early childhood events in Jesus’ life associated with Christmas) extends until Candlemas Day, or the Feast of the Presentation, on February 2.
This marks the 40th day of Christmas, the day on which Mary and Joseph took the infant child to the Temple. For those of us that keep tabs on Rome, the Vatican leads the way in extending the Christmas celebration this far by leaving its Christmas decorations up all the way until February 2.
So even if you’ve had a crazy time of it during the past week, dealing with gruesome weather, long days of travel, children squabbling over gifts, lost sleep, and homemade treats that didn’t turn out the way they looked on Pinterest, don’t worry! Christmas has just begun. Now that the roar of the commercial holiday is fading away, you have time to turn inwards, and celebrate (or continue celebrating) Christmas the way YOU want to, all external expectations aside.
A very merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!