Christmas is over, right? Well, not exactly. The Christmas that Catholics and other Christians celebrate merely starts on Christmas Eve, and does not end on Christmas night. It goes on and on, with the feasts of saints, the holy family—all of the days of Christmas that end on New Year’s, the Octave of Christmas.
Then it keeps going, on until Epiphany, the celebration of the gift of Christ to all of the people’s of the earth. That’s when I used to think it ended. When I wrote homily helps for Father Hilarion many years ago, I once happened to be assigned Epiphany Sunday. I wrongly called it the end of Christmas season, and it slipped past Hilarion’s watchful eye (I think he trusted me too much!). Boy, did he hear about it, from priest-subscribers who knew better! He’s kept an eye on me ever since.
For us Catholics, Christmas actually ends this coming Sunday, with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. That’s the announcement of how much the Father loves Jesus, his “beloved son.” And that touch of love sets everything about Jesus’ public ministry into motion.
I admit that I took most of my outdoor lights down last weekend, just before extreme cold temperatures arrived. But our tree is still lit. And there’s a wreath over our garage door. It ain’t over til it’s over.
Photo by John Feister