Seasonal color: White, although gold may be substituted
Ahhhh! It's finally here - Christmas. Hopefully you've had a
relaxing, revitalizing Advent so you're ready for the glory of this season.
If not, don't fear, there's still plenty of hope. Despite the best
preparation, the obligations of Christmas Day may still cause stress.
Keeping the focus on Christ can make all the difference.
The celebration of the Christmas season can be simple or
elaborate, it's up to you. The goal is to have fun and celebrate the young
life of Jesus and the lives of inspirational saints for the whole twelve
days. Some of these steps may be difficult if you are celebrating the
holidays in someone else's home. If you feel comfortable approaching others
about your wish to celebrate Christ during Christmas, then share these with
everyone. If you do not feel comfortable with this approach, do what you
can. Simply sharing the simple message of Christ with your own family is a
great start. Most importantly, don't force anything on those who are not
ready or willing to accept the message. Your family and friends may notice
the change that has taken place in your family as you really live your
faith. Don't be surprised if they ask what has made that difference. God
often touches the lives of people in ways they least expect!
Step 1: Substitute white or gold candles
for the violet and rose candles in your Advent wreath.
If you never got around to putting up and Advent wreath, or
you don't have 4 white or gold candles, just put your white candle in your
regular liturgical season candle holder.
Step 2: Help the Wise Men find Baby Jesus
This is one of our family favorites. On Christmas Eve our
Nativity scene has Mary and Joseph. On Christmas Day we place the Baby Jesus
in his place of honor, and the Wise Men quite a distance away. Each
day of the Christmas season we move the Wise Men closer to the Nativity
scene until, on the feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6) they arrive to give Jesus
their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This simple activity is a fun,
easy way to keep the focus on the entire season of Christmas.
Step 3: Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas
You can be as simple or as fancy as you want with this. Some
families exchange a simple gift each day. Other just light the Christmas
candles and mention why the day is special.
For more detailed
information, click here. The following should give you a start with
December 26 - The feast of St. Stephen (the first Christian
December 27 - The feast of St. John the Evangelist
December 28 - The feast of the Holy Innocents (babies killed
by order of Herod, who intended to kill the Infant Jesus)
December 29 - The feast of St. Thomas Becket
December 30 - Time for a quiet day!
December 31 - The feast of the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and
January 1 - The feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of
January 2 - The feast of Saint Basil the Great and Gregory
January 3 - The feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
January 4 - The feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
January 5 - The feast of St. John Neumann
January 6 - The Epiphany of the Lord - the celebration of
the arrival of the Three Kings to visit the Infant Jesus (Your parish may celebrate
this feast on
the nearest Sunday so the whole community can participate.)
We've traded in our Christmas party (which always happened
well before Christmas) for an Epiphany party. Most people are exhausted
after a hectic Christmas season, and an Epiphany party prevents those dark
winter doldrums. It also reminds people that the Christmas season did not
end on December 25th!
A few party suggestions:
A cake baked with surprises inside. A cake baked in a
tube pan (to resemble a crown) is traditional, but we prefer cupcakes.
Either way, put 3 beans in the batter, then bake the cake normally. (We
always use black-eyed peas because my husband is from the South, which is a
much better choice than the sauerkraut tradition from my family!)
Three crowns - These can be homemade or inexpensive
toy crowns. The three who get the piece of cake or cupcake with the hidden
beans get to wear the crown. Anyone who does not get to wear the crown gets
the special reminder of God's love: Blessed are they who do not see yet
still believe. More than three crowns works, too, of course. The Bible
never says there were exactly three kings. That number is part of legend.
Party favors: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Okay, not
actually those three gifts. I usually get gold-foil wrapped chocolate
candies, a scented candle, and lip balm. The gold is the symbol of Christ's
kingship, the incense is the symbol of a prophet, and the myrrh is a symbol
of death, because it was a balm used for burial.
A re-telling of the Epiphany story - children can put
on a play, parents can read or tell the story, but it is always wonderful to
explain the reason for the celebration. Astrologers, who were not
actually kings, noticed a powerful and rare configuration of the stars. Only
these scholars recognized this amazing sight, so it is no wonder the average
person in Bethlehem did not notice a brilliant star. These
astrologers, who were Gentiles, not Jews, welcomed the Savior, showing that
Jesus came to unite and save everyone.