With Fr. John Mark Solitario, O.P.
Q. So apparently there really are “12 Days of Christmas” recognized by the Church. How do Catholic families celebrate the other eleven days after December 25th?
Fr. John Mark: Yes, if you count the days from Christmas until the traditional date for Epiphany (Jan 6), there are indeed twelve days! This reminds us of the time leading up to Jesus’ circumcision and naming on the eighth day after his birth (cf. Lk 2:21), in addition to the time it took for the Magi to arrive before Herod began his dreadful persecution. The readings at Mass during these twelve days take on a variety of subjects as the Church peacefully gazes upon the Incarnate Son of God and then grapples with the variety of reactions his birth provoked and continues to provoke.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Catholic culture over the centuries has developed countless traditions to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. Flowing from participation in splendid liturgies and recollection through quiet moments spent in prayer, these days from Christmas Day to Epiphany can be joy-filled for each of us and our families.
Since no one wants to be a Scrooge with regard to the “keeping” of Christmas, here I recommend some basic principles to inspire and cultivate a true and full Christmas spirit. Here I admit to enlisting one of the most un-scrooge-like moms in the parish, Mrs. Christy Kellner, to help give us some ideas about celebrating the Christmas Season in a Catholic home:
To end, I borrow the penultimate sentence from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in hopes that Scrooge’s discovery and transformation would be ours in the full celebration of this grace-filled season: “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!”