It’s still Christmas!

Yesterday, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany—the visitation and adoration of the Magi. Although that’s not always what we’ve celebrated on January 6 (help us produce the Catholic Encyclopedia to read an in-depth history of Epiphany), the feast has always been a celebration of Christ’s glory and divinity. Early in Church history, January 6 was most often the celebration of Christ’s baptism, which we now celebrate the Sunday after Epiphany, marking the end of the Christmas season. January 6 marks the end of the Christmas feast, giving us the concept of the 12 days of Christmas.

This year we are celebrating the longest possible Christmas season. Because Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, the latest possible celebration of the Baptism of our Lord is an entire week after that: January 13. The US does things a little differently by moving the Feast of the Epiphany to the nearest Sunday. In theory, this could move the celebration to January 7 or 8, extending Christmas even more, right? There’s a caveat, though.

According to the US edition of the new Roman Missal:

When the Solemnity of the Epiphany is transferred to the Sunday that occurs on January 7 or 8, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following Monday.

This would mean that if Epiphany were January 8 (the latest possible date for it), the Baptism of the Lord would be January 9. However, because January 6 falls on a Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord on the following Sunday, January 13*—a 20-day Christmas season!

Ordinary Time is on its way, but there’s still plenty of time to celebrate the Christmas season. Let’s continue to share God’s love in our words and actions. And take a moment to reflect on yesterday’s Gospel.* Merry Christmas!

P.S. Don’t miss your chance to save 25% on the Apostolic Constitutions and Exhortations of JPII and Benedict XVI and the G. K. Chesterton Collection with coupon code VerbumChristmas2012. Offer ends January 13.

*Links to a resource in Logos.

Written by
Alex Renn
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  • I was interested to find that the early church fathers (Proclius for one) considered that the feast of the Epiphany was not limited to just the Adoration of the Magi but could be applied to the “visible manifestation of God to mankind” and that they would often preach on the baptism of our Lord and the miracles of our Lord as marks of the Epiphany. There was a homily by Proclius that was used for the Office of Readings on Monday or Tuesday of this week where he spoke to his local Church on this very topic circa 3rd to 4th century.

  • In Sweden it’s always 20 days of Christmas. Presumably a remnant of an old octave after Epiphany, but I’ve never really tried to find out.

    I was surprised you didn’t include the Catholic Encyclopedia in the Verbum packages, and got it into production that way.

  • The Catholic Encyclopedia (17 vols.)
    [Posted to the Verbum blog comments: Time to Turn on Preaching to the Choir mode]
    Current bid peak is at $30 with maybe 30% of what is needed
    At that price we need 3.33 times as many bidders to get it someday – maybe.
    Or we need to raise our bids to $100 to get it started now.

    There are more Catholics than any other Christian group.
    But currently there are less Catholic users then others ‘groups’ on Logos – so we need to bid higher.
    Until we get more of these resources available we will not get others to join us.

Written by Alex Renn