The End of Christmas

By Sarah Levesque (Rated G)

The twenty-fifth of December has come and gone. The radio stations have gone back to their regular programming. The Lifetime channel is no longer showing Christmas movies (though Hallmark will continue through January 2nd). Stores are taking down their Christmas displays. Christmas trees are showing up on the side of the road. It seems like Christmas is over.

But wait, there’s more! 

While the stores begin the Christmas season right after (or sometimes even before!) Halloween, we Christians do not begin our celebration of Christmas until the twenty-fourth – Christmas Eve. Our Christmas preparation is a season unto itself: Advent, a time to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming to the manger, into our hearts and into the world again at the end of time. Advent is the opposite of the commercial Christmas season – quiet, introspective, waiting, listening, falling in love with God, as opposed to rushing, buying, getting, and falling in love with someone you’ve known less than a week (*cough* Hallmark *cough*). Our Christmas season is much better than that: there’s no stressing about who should get what, or if there will be enough food for the extended family or whether or not our house is prettier than the neighbors’… no, we have something better – a time to wonder at God becoming man, a time to look at the holiness of the Holy Family and consider how to make our families more holy, a time to see what we can give to God as the Wisemen did so long ago.

We Christians get to continue our Christmas well into January. How far is a bit dodgy, as different traditions stick to different days. The Vocation Ministry Facebook page posted this handy graphic on December 26th to help:

Image may contain: text that says 'When does the Christmas season end? (For Roman Catholics and most of Western Christianity) "Safest" answer: Jan. Traditional date of the Epiphany; 12 days of Christmas Liturgically, Novus Ordo: Baptism of Our Lord First Sunday after jan. but if Epiphany 1$ celebrated Jan. the Monday after Liturgically, Traditional Rites: Octave Day of Epiphany Jan. 13 seven days after Jan. Liturgically, Philippines: Feast of the Sto. Niño -3rd Sunday of January Jan. included it it's Sunday Traditional popular piety: Feb. Presentatio lesus at the Temple; Christmas as 40-day period'

So if you need a reason to sing “Joy to the World” or listen to Josh Groban’s “O Holy Night” every day for the next month, you have it. Merry Christmas!

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