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.