The Christmas Season Mr. Pablo Cuadra Religion Class “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” Isaiah 9:2.
1. The Christmas Season Mr. Pablo Cuadra Religion Class The
people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living
in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned Isaiah 9:2
2. Scripture Reading
I bring you good news of a great joy for to you is born this
day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Manger square, Bethlehem
3. What is the meaning of the word Christmas?
The word Christmas comes from the Old EnglishCristes Maesse ,
the Mass of Christ.
Christmas, therefore, literally means Christs Mass.
Christmas day is the only day when three masses are celebrated
continuously: Midnight Mass, Dawn Mass and Christmas day mass.
In total, there are four liturgical celebrations marking the
beginning of the Holy season of Christmas: The vigil Mass on
December 24 thand the three masses of Christmas Day on December
What good is it that Christ was born 2,000 years ago if he is not
born now in your heart? Meister Eckhart
4. What is Christmas about?
Historically, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus of
Nazareth to a young virgin from Galilee named Mary.
Theologically, Christmas is the celebration of the mystery of
the incarnation .
The word incarnation means toTake flesh .We believe that God
became flesh like one of us in the person of Jesus.
The mystery of the incarnation is at the heart of the
celebration of Christmas.
Jesus the Prince of peace, Emmanuel, God is with uswas born to
redeemus and to reconcile humanity to God.
Christmas marksthe birth of our redemption and the fulfillment
of the promised of salvation made by God to the people of
5. How long is the Season of Christmas? And when does Christmas
The length of the liturgical Season Christmas vary from year to
year, depending on what weekday December 25th occurs in any
Christmas begins with Vigil Mass on December 24 thand
culminates with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
This liturgical year (2008) the Baptism of the Lord will be
The exact dates of several other feasts celebrated each year
during the Christmas Season are subject to change from year to
Hence, they are calledmovable feasts .
6. Why do we celebrate Jesus birth on December 25 th ?
By the early fourth century, Christians began celebrating
Christmas, the birth of Jesus, on December 25, as an alternative to
the pagan observance of the winter solstice known asDeis Natalis
Solis Invicti , The birthday of the unconquered sun.
As Christianity, gradually, became the official religion of the
Roman empire many of these pagan feasts were Christianized and
infused with a Christological theme.
Hence, the unconquered sun became a Christian symbol of Jesus
the true sun of justice, and the pagan observance of the winter
solsticeevolved into what is known today as Christmas.
The development of this feast traveled from the Christian West
to the Christian East .
7. Christmas History
Christmaswas notamong the earliest festivals of the Church.
Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts.
The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200,
Clement of Alexandria says that certain Egyptian theologians "over
curiously" assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ's
birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year
In Cyprus, at the end of the fourth century, Epiphanius asserts
against the Alogi that Christ was born on 6 January and baptized on
8 November. Ephraem Syrus (whose hymns belong to Epiphany, not to
Christmas) proves that Mesopotamia still put the birth feast
thirteen days after the winter solstice.
In Cappadocia, Gregory of Nyssa's sermons on St. Basil preached
on St. Stephen's feast prove that in 380 the 25th December was
already celebrated there.
In Jerusalem 385, Silvia of Bordeaux (or Etheria, as it seems
clear she should be called) was profoundly impressed by the
splendid Childhood feasts at Jerusalem. They had a definitely
"Nativity" coloring; the bishop proceeded nightly to Bethlehem,
returning to Jerusalem for the day celebrations.
At Rome the earliest evidence is in the Philocalian Calendar
compiled in 354, which contains three important entries: In the
civil calendar 25 December is marked "Natalis Invicti". In the
"Depositio Martyrum" a list of Roman or early and universally
venerated martyrs, under 25 December is found "VIII kal. ian. natus
Christus in Betleem Iude".
8. The Octave of Christmas
Christmas has its ownoctave(eight days of celebration) during
which the feasts of St Stephen (26th), Saint John (27th) and the
Holy Innocents (28th) are celebrated.
These saints are seen as having a particular relation to the
Christmas mystery and are traditionally honored as companions of
Christ.The Sunday within the Christmas octave is celebrated as the
feast of the Holy Family.
The last day of the Christmas octave, 1st January, is observed
as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
9. Feasts celebrated during the Octave of Christmas
St. Stephen, the first martyr December 26
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist December 27
Holy Innocents, Martyrs December 28
Holy Family Sunday (movable feast)
Mary, the Mother of God (January 1)
The feast of Mary Mother of God ends the Octave of
Epiphany (traditionally Jan 6, this is a movable feast)
Baptism of the Lord (movable feast)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the
government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of
Epiphany is a Greek word that means appearance or
In the Christian East the feast of the Epiphany marked the
beginning of the celebration of the birth of Christ.
The Feast of Epiphany was later adopted by the Christian West.
Where it is celebrated together with the Christmas season.
Originally, Epiphany marked the end of the season of Christmas
in the Churches of the West.
Epiphany was celebrated twelve days after the beginning of
12. Did you know? The Twelve days of Christmas
Aside from the fact that Epiphanywhich comes twelve days after
Christmasused to mark the end of the Christmas Season, the Twelve
Days of Christmas are not really any part of Catholic liturgy.
The song of that name actually derives from a time in England
from 1558 to 1829 when it was illegal to be a Catholic, and so the
song contains a hidden catechism of Catholic theology.
A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Jesus Christ
Two Turtle Doves: The Old and New Testaments
Three French Hens: The Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, and
Four Calling Birds: The Four Gospels / The Four
Five Golden Rings: The first Five Books of the Old Testament,
Six Geese a-Laying: The Six Days of Creation
Seven Swans a-Swimming: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit /
The Seven Sacraments
Eight Maids a-Milking: The Eight Beatitudes
Nine Ladies Dancing: The Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Ten Lords a-Leaping: The Ten Commandments
Eleven Pipers Piping: The Eleven Faithful Apostles
Twelve Drummers Drumming: The Twelve Points of Doctrine in the
13. Christmas symbols
The liturgical color of the Christmas season iswhite .
Non-liturgical symbols and celebrations associated with
The crib or crche
The Christmas tree
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good
will. Luke 2;14
15. Infancy Narratives
There are two infancy narratives in the Gospels that tell the
story of Jesus birth.
These narratives come from the Gospels of Matthew and
Matthews account narrates the visit of the wise men from the
East, the slaughtered of the Holy Innocents by Herod and the flight
of the Holy Family into Egypt.
Lukes account narrates the story of Jesus being born in a
manger, because there was no room in the inn and the appearance of
the Angels to the shepherds.
16. Did you know?
Bethlehem the city where Jesus was born meanshouse of
Catholics believe Jesus is thetrue Bread from Heaven. John
Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the
Eucharist. John 6: 53-56
The city of Bethlehem is home to one of the largest Palestinian
Christian communities in the Holy Land .
The star at the church of the nativity marks the place where Jesus
was born .
17. The Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was built upon the cave
that tradition marks the birthplace of Jesus.
The Church of the Nativity is operated under the patronage of
the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
The Church of the Nativity is considered a sacred place of
worship for both Christians and Muslims faiths.
Church of the Nativity
18. Did you know?
Christmas was against the Law in Massachusettsbeginning in 1659
The ban, established by the puritans, existed as law for 22
years, but disapproval of Christmas celebration took many more
years to change.
Christmas was condemned as an invention of the Popes.
In fact, it wasn't until the mid-1800s that celebrating
Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.
19. The Christmas Crche
The tradition of the Christmas crib or crche was started bySt.
Francis of Assisi .
At Christmas 1223 he celebrated the birth of Jesus in an
outdoor pageant and Mass in the village of Greccio, thus giving to
the Christian world ever since the Christmas crib or crche.
20. Pope Benedicts Message for Christmas in 2005
At Christmas, the Almighty becomes a child and asks for our
help and protection. His way of showing that he is God challenges
our way of being human. By knocking at our door, he challenges us
and our freedom; he calls us to examine how we understand and live
our lives. The modern age is often seen as an awakening of reason
from its slumbers, humanitys enlightenment after an age of
darkness. Yet without the light of Christ, the light of reason is
not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world. For this
reason, the words of the Christmas Gospel: "the true Light that
enlightens every man was coming into this world" ( Jn1:9) resound
now more than ever as a proclamation of salvation. "It is only in
the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity
truly becomes clear" .
21. How to celebrate Christmas?
Each day of Christmas spend sometime reflecting on the meaning
of the Incarnation. What does it mean to you to be saved?
Make plans to attend the Midnight Mass with your family or the
Christmas Mass (Holy day of obligation).
Read the infancy narratives to your children and explain to
them their connection with the Christmas season.
Do not take down the Christmas decorations until the Feast of
the Baptism of the Lord (Jan 13).
Make plans to attend a Christmas recital or play with your
family or friends.
Practice the corporal works of mercy. For instance, sponsor a
child through a charity.
Slow down, try to spend more time with your family.
Make a donation of diapers, formula or baby food to your local
church or pro-life office in your diocese.
Pray to the Prince of Peace for Peace in the world, but above
all be a peacemaker.
Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,that we may
share in the song of the angels,the gladness of the shepherds,and
worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the
world.Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every
greeting.Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and
Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful
thoughts,forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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