Let the festivities begin! Whether you will be merry and bright throughout the weeklong Christmas Octave, the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the entire Christmastide, Catholics should recognize the major days that follow Christmas Day and keep the party rolling!
Here are the significant days as we continue the Christmas season beyond December 25th:
The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – January 1
The Octave of Christmas ends with this Holy day of obligation celebrated on the first day of the new year.
Epiphany – January 6
Known as the Twelfth Night of the twelve days of Christmas and is celebrated on the first Sunday after January 1st.
Baptism of the Lord – First Sunday after January 6
This is where the Christmas season will end for most (if it hasn’t already), but this major feast day marks the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and confirms His identity as the Son of God.
The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary – February 2
Christmastide is the traditional way to celebrate Christmas for 40 days beginning with the Nativity of the Lord on December 25th to the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on February 2.
The custom of celebrating the solemnity of our savior’s nativity by a feast of 40 days’ duration is founded on the holy gospel itself; for it tells us that the Blessed Virgin Mary, after spending 40 days in the contemplation of the divine fruit of her glorious maternity, went to the temple, there to fulfill, in most perfect humility, the ceremonies which the law demanded of the daughters of Israel when they became mothers. The feast of Mary’s purification is, therefore, part of that of Jesus’ birth; and the custom of keeping this holy and glorious period of forty days as one continued Festival has every appearance of being a very ancient one, at least in the Roman Church.-Benedictine Abbot Dom Prosper Guéranger