We all know that Christmas officially begins on Christmas Eve, but when does Christmas officially end? The answer gets a bit complicated.
On January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, the Church celebrates the biblical event where the Magi, also called the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, travelled from the East to pay homage to the new-born King, Jesus Christ. Many believe that this is the date when the Christmas season officially ends, being the end of the traditional 12 days of Christmas.
However, according to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, Ordinary Time doesn’t officially begin until the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which (usually) falls on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 6th).
This means that the Christmas season actually extends beyond the popular “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
In the older tradition Christmas lasts until Candlemas, or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of the Lord, which isn’t until February 2nd. This marked the end of a long 40-day “Christmastide” that corresponded to the 40 days of Lent.
So, if the world starts to celebrate Christmas in different forms sometimes even already in October, why can’t we keep our long Catholic tradition of THE CHRISTMASTIDE?