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Not until the Baptism of the Lord!..and then Spiritually until Candlemas.

imgae@

imgae@orthodoxcatholicism.com

Christmas does not  begin in October,November or in December but at Midnight Mass on the 24th of December. So when does Christmastide come to an end then? Judging by some reactions, pretty much 3 days after Christmas, when all the decorations are put back in the loft and ‘duties’ around Christmas festivities are over. Sadly though this is not the case at all.

Christmas falls on 25th December. We mark the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. Church and ancient custom then add a twelve-day follow-up season up to Epiphany, which in 2014 was celebrated on 5th January. However, liturgically speaking, the season of Christmastide lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (today ,12th January) and “Ordinary Time” does not commence until after this day. In some traditions, Christmas further continues until the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple  (Candlemas) on 2nd February . 

Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and praises God: “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation...

Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and praises God: “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation…

The entire Christmas Cycle is a crescendo of Christ’s manifesting Himself as God and King — to the shepherds, to the Magi, at His Baptism, to Simeon and the prophetess, Anna (Luke 2).  

The days from the Feast of the Nativity to the Epiphany are known as “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” with Christmas itself being the first day, and Twelfth Night — 5 January — being the last of the twelve days. Christmastide liturgically ends on 13 January, the Octave of the Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ. But Christmas doesn’t end spiritually — i.e., the celebration of the events of Christ’s life as a child don’t end, and the great Christmas Cycle doesn’t end — until Candlemas on 2 February.

candlemas1

The Presentation

In this way, just as From Ash Wednesday on, we commemorate Christ in the desert for forty days, and just as after Easter we celebrate for forty days until the Ascension, after Christmas we celebrate the Child Jesus for forty days — all through the season of Time After Epiphany — until Candlemas.

The delineation of those Christ Child celebrations looks like this:

  • Christmas
    Christ is born
  • Feast of the Holy Innocents
    Herod slaughters the baby boys in order to kill the Christ Child
  • The Circumcision (the Octave of Christmas)
    Jesus follows the Law
  • Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
    After He is circumcised, He is named and becomes a part of the Holy Family
  • Twelfth Night 
    The Twelve Days of Christmas as a Feast come to an end
  • Feast of the Epiphany
    Jesus reveals His divinity to the three Magi, and during His Baptism, and at the wedding at Cana
  • Baptism of Our Lord/Octave of the Epiphany
    Christmas liturgically ends with the Octave of the Epiphany.
  • Feast of the Holy Family
    Jesus condescends to be subject to His parents
  • Feast of the Purification (Candlemas)
    40 days after giving birth, Mary goes to the Temple to be purified and to “redeem” Jesus per the Old Testament Law of the firstborn. Christmas truly ends as a Season with Candlemas.

Let friends and family know about this and continue to celebrate the Nativity of our  Lord and Saviour until the 2nd of February.

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