The Schema of Christmastide
The progression of Christmastide can be understood as follows:
- Christmas Eve. See Customs.
The Octave of the Nativity of our Lord
- The Feast of the Nativity, Christmas Day. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. See Customs.
- Sunday Within the Octave of the Nativity. The Presentation in the Temple and the prophecies of Simeon and Anna make clear that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises to the Jewish people.
The Twelve Days of Christmas (See Customs)
- (1st Day) Feast of St. Stephen, Deacon and Proto-Martyr (December 26), a.k.a. “Boxer Day.” (This year the Sunday Within the Octave of the Nativity with a commemoration of St. Stephen). See Customs.
- (2nd) Feast of St. John the Evangelist (December 27). See Customs.
- (3rd) Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28). See Customs.
- (4th) Feast of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (December 29).
- (5th) December 30.
(6th) Feast of St. Sylvester, Pope (December 31). See Customs.
(7th) Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, The Octave of the Feast of the Nativity (January 1). A celebration of the Nativity, of the Holy motherhood of Mary, and of the first time our Savior shed blood for mankind. See Customs.
(8th) Octave-Day of St. Stephen (January 2) and, this year, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. (The Feast of the Holy Name falls on January 2 if there is no Sunday between January 1 and 6; otherwise on the Sunday between the 1st and the 6th). Veneration of the name formally given to the Son of Man on the occasion of His circumcision. See Customs.
- (9th) Octave-Day of St. John (January 3).
- (10th) Octave-Day of the Holy Innocents (January 4).
- (11th) Vigil of the Feast of the Epiphany (January 5). The night before Epiphany is also known as “Twelfth night.”
The Octave of the Epiphany
- (12th) The Feast of the Epiphany: “Twelfth Day” (January 6). Christ reveals Himself not just to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, as the visitation of the Magi makes clear. (Also, the Baptism of the Lord and His first public miracle at the Wedding of Cana, two initial manifestations of His divine nature, are commemorated.) See Customs.
- The Feast of the Holy Family (Sunday within the Octave of Epiphany). A celebration of the Holy Family and a meditation on the manifestation of His wisdom and virtue at the age of twelve. See Customs
The Octave-Day of the Epiphany: The Baptism of the Lord (January 13). A closing celebration of Christ’s initial manifestations to the world through His life and early ministry, especially in His baptism by St. John..