Christmas Octave

The day after Christmas, as I drove past a busy street I noticed a beautiful flocked Christmas tree tossed to the curb. I wanted to shout, “Don’t throw out your Christmas tree yet, we’re still celebrating!” We need more time to take in the beauty of the glorious birth of Baby Jesus. The Catholic Church keeps the spirit alive by adding eight additional days; these days are referred to as the octaves.

All the readings from the Mass, from December 26th through January 1st, are not just celebrating the Nativity, or the birth of Christ, but the impact, and the crux of the birth.

Maddie found Baby Jesus

The reading from December 26th is about St. Stephen, who was stoned to death for speaking the truth of Christ. On the 27th, St. John the Evangelist, who was the only apostle of Christ at Calvary, through his powerful, mystical writings, served as the example of how to live in the manner of Christ. On December 28th we celebrate the Holy Innocents, when all children in Bethlehem and surrounding regions under the age of two were murdered by King Herod. December 29th, we celebrate St. Thomas Becket, who was murdered for defending the Church against the oppression of King Henry II. Then on December 30th, we celebrate the Holy Family, the family that we are to emulate, and the perfect example of what a Christian unity is all about. On December 31st, we celebrate Pope St. Sylvester; this saint supported the Council of Nicaea in 335. This is where the Apostles’ Creed originated. This prayer proclaims that God is fully man, and fully divine, the triune God. We recite this creed every Sunday at Mass.

We end the Octave with the Solemnity of Mary. This is a holy day of obligation, in which we honor the role of Mary in the salvation history of mankind, and the love she had for her son. Mary said yes, as we should too. Luke 2:16-21 announces that the Child, carried by Mary, was circumcised and given the name of Jesus on the eighth day of His life.

For those of us who procrastinate putting our Christmas decorations away, if you’re not Catholic, this would be a good reason to convert. We are still not done celebrating.

The three kings, better known as the Magi, still needed to present Jesus with gifts. The gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh are symbolic of His kingship, divinity, and His sacrificial death. These gifts were definitely fit for a king. Both the frankincense and myrrh were from Southern Arabia and could only be harvested once a year, and we all know the value of gold.

Garland by Mikos and Sonja’s Reindeer

Sonja’s 1st grade ornament
Mikos’s Christmas tree circa 2nd grade
Sonja’s 3rd grade ornament

Next year the Epiphany falls on Sunday, January 6th; now you can take a deep breath and put all of Christmas away. It takes me days to display all my decorations, so I pace myself, one day at a time, packing one room at a time. I’m a ornament hoarder, and even the broken ornaments are spared. I saved a lot of my kid’s decorations that they made in grammar school as well. I take special care of all my ornaments, and a year does not pass without me purchasing more. I guess that’s why I put up four Christmas trees. My poor husband is so sweet, telling me, “Please get rid some of this stuff, I’m sick of putting it away.” From there I’m led into the garage, with Mike warning me that some of these boxes have got to go. Our garage has been transformed into a free mini storage unit. On paper it’s meant for two cars, but I can barely fit my Prius because of all our Christmas stuff.

I purchased my Rosca de Reyes cake (King’s Cake) early this year. We started a tradition with our grandkids and they look forward to finding the Baby Jesus in the cake. The Mexican tradition is celebrated 12 days after Christmas. Mexicans usually celebrate on or before January 6th, on the Epiphany, the day of the appearance of the Wise Men: Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar. We served our cake with Mexican hot chocolate, Maddie found the Baby Jesus again this year.

Lucas, Wil, me, Jacob,and Maddie

My Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that we can embrace these holy celebrations, not only at Christmas but throughout the year. Help us to draw closer to You, to be more committed in our walk with You. Dear Lord for those who do not know You, please touch them through the love of others, through dreams, or through Your beautiful voice. Bring all lost souls to Your Kingdom, and let us worship and bow down in Your most holy presence. Lord let this be a year of great accomplishments in our government; allow us to witness peace in our country. Teach us to be example of goodwill to all men. Let Your glory shine in all those who love You. Amen

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