When does Christmas really end?

Many people will be heading back at work after the Christmas holiday, and “for a lot of people, Christmas is over because vacation is over,” says Rev. Francis Hoffman, “Father Rocky”, Executive Director and CEO of Relevant Radio®. Some have already taken down the decorations, turned off the Christmas music, and packed everything up until next year.

Despite what most people think, Christmas isn’t just one day; we don’t forget about Christ’s birth as soon as the presents have been opened on Christmas morning. We celebrate the Octave of Christmas that begins on Christmas Day and ends on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. While some people take down the Christmas decorations and put the tree on the curb as early as December 26, Catholics continue to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord for a full eight days, and the liturgical season of Christmas continues beyond the octave.

“The Christmas season actually continues in the liturgical calendar until the [Solemnity] of the Baptism of the Lord,” says Fr. Rocky. This year, the feast is celebrated on January 12th. There are some Catholic Churches that have the custom of leaving the Christmas decorations up in the church all the way until Candlemas on February 2nd. “That’s more likely to be the case with the Catholic churches that may have an ethnic background from Eastern Europe—Hungarian, Slovakian, or Polish. They’ll leave their decorations up all the way until February 2nd because that is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 40 days after Christmas.”

So what should we do once the Christmas season is over? Many people end up feeling downcast after the decorations have been taken down and the festivities have ended. “As Christians, we go back into our workplace, neighborhood, or school and we’re called to bring the joy and hope of Christmas to everyone we meet. The essential message of Christmas is that the human race gets a second chance. It’s a new beginning,” says Fr. Rocky. Keep that joy with you and share it throughout the year!

How beautiful it is to be Catholic—our Christmas celebrations are just beginning! Merry Christmas!

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.