For most people, the Christmas season begins early after Halloween and culminates on December 25th. There are big parties, family celebrations and lots of running around; then quickly Christmas is over. But for Catholics, it doesn’t stop there. There are twelve days to the Christmas season.
When people hear about the twelve days of Christmas, they think of the carol that goes: “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me: A Partridge in a Pear Tree”. For Catholics, the twelve days of Christmas are the days from December 25th, the birth of Jesus, to January 6th, the Epiphany of the Lord. This year the Epiphany is celebrated on January 8th because it is a Sunday. The Epiphany celebrates the visit of the three kings or wise men to see the newborn king. On each of the twelve days we celebrate a feast day for a saint, a memorial or other remembrance. For us Catholics, the Epiphany is the end of the Christmas Season; the celebrations can now officially stop. Wow, do we know how to party or what!
That familiar Christmas carol is a song about giving gifts. Now that the gift giving and receiving is over, we have to decide what to do with all those gifts. Some will probably be returned, some will wind up in a closet shelf and others in the garage. The best gifts are those that we can use all year long. The giver was so thoughtful and generous and knew us so well that they gave us a gift that would be just right for us. To show our appreciation and gratitude for all the gifts we received, we send a note of thanks for their generosity.
In this Christmas season, we celebrate receiving the greatest gift of all. God the Father has given us the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. God knew exactly what we needed. He knows us so well, was so generous and loving that he gave us a gift that would be just right for us, today and all year long. We continue to celebrate that gift every Sunday in the Eucharist. Eucharist means thanksgiving. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist we thank God for his generosity and show our appreciation and gratitude for his greatest gift.