We’re not just happy that Jesus was born on December 25. We’re always happy about His coming while we look forward to His second coming! It might only be one time a year that we focus on His birth, specifically, but it’s something we always hold in our hearts.
During this Christmas season, let’s not cut the celebration short. Let’s live it up for all Twelve Days of Christmas! To do this we don’t need to literally follow the traditional song “Twelve Days of Christmas” and give gifts of drummers, turtle doves, and maids-a-milkin’, though we can continue to be generous and festive in many other ways.
Here are twelve ways to help you and your family keep celebrating the entire season:
1. Print out those pictures for your wall!
We post on social media all the time, but a simple 4×6 print out costs pocket change. You might even have a printer and special paper at home to print your own photos.
Pick some of your favorites, frame them, and hang them up. This way, even if your internet is down or you’re trying to ignore your phone, you can still see the smiles on your family’s faces anytime of the year. You may have been preoccupied on Christmas Day, so this is a great way to remind you what the season is all about.
2. Invite others over to celebrate with your family over a meal!
Maybe you have leftovers or you just want to share a meal with another family. This is a great way to keep your Christmas candle bright in the center of the table and share a meal with others, even if they themselves don’t celebrate Christmas. Jesus shared meals with many different people!
3. Keep your decorations up!
In fact, keep all your decorations up for all twelve days. It probably took a major portion of your time and effort to put everything up, so Might as well enjoy them. To make it extra special, try to hold off on decorating everything immediately after Thanksgiving. Maybe wait for the tree until closer to Christmas and make the stockings and presents appear Christmas Eve.
4. Write those thank you cards!
Make it a goal to have all those thank you cards out in your mailbox by the end of the Christmas season. It helps spread the joy to those who gave to you. The gratitude shared through such a simple gesture helps those around you, who may have bent-over-backwards to bake or wrap presents, that their actions weren’t overlooked. Let the gratitude we feel for Christ’s coming be reflected in how we treat others!
5. Resolve to better resolutions!
Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions about our health or career goals. Let’s also resolve to keep important resolutions about our faith, specifically in regards to Christmas.
Do you need to promise yourself to make Mass a priority? Do you feel like you’re ready for monthly Reconciliation? Are you able to keep the light lit? How? Try adding, renewing, or refining something to your prayer life that will keep the joy of Christmas in your heart.
6. Celebrate The Epiphany, and update your nativity scene at the right time!
Already have the Three Kings up before Epiphany? Don’t feel bad; we’ve all done it. It feels incomplete without all the pieces out, but that’s why this’ll help you celebrate all season long. Have your set ready all Advent and add the pieces gradually as each Sunday reading talks about them. If you do it this way, you won’t be adding the Three Kings until Epiphany (celebrated January 7th this year). You can also bake special cake for the feast of Epiphany!
7. Get your house blessed!
Epiphany is also a day many people have their houses blessed. Ask your priest or deacon when he is available to bless your house. You can also ask him to bless a piece of chalk. Using this chalk you and your family can write “20+C+M+B+18” over your doorways. This includes the year for which you are asking for a blessing and each of the Three Kings—Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.
8. Pray a novena.
Don’t try to do them all at once. That’s too overwhelming! You can choose any novena you want to help celebrate Christ’s birth prayerfully. Here are some novenas for the Christmas season feast days:
– Novena for the Epiphany
– Novena for the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
– Novena to St. Stephen, First Martyr
– Novena to St. John the Evangelist
– Novena to the Holy Innocents
– Novena to the Holy Family
– Novena to Mother of God
9. Celebrate the Feast Days of Saints and Solemnities!
As Catholics we love to celebrate the lives of saints. Though these days may not be as exciting as Christ’s birth, they are celebrating those who lived and died for Him, who is the reason for the Christmas season. Here are some Christmas season feast days you may choose to celebrate with Mass or a special dinner and prayer with your family:
– St. Stephen, the First Martyr (December 26)
– St. John the Evangelist (December 27)
– The Holy Innocents (December 28)
– The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (First Sunday after Christmas, December 31)
– Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (January 1)
– Epiphany (January 6th, but will be celebrated Sunday, January 7th this year)
– The Baptism of the Lord (January 8th)
10. Keep it lit!
As in, keep your Christmas candle lit when you’re home or for dinner with your family. Sometimes, people have a white candle in the middle of their Advent wreath for the Christmas season. What does the light of the candle make you think of?
“A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in the soul, in the heart; let there be forgiveness to others; let there be no hostilities, which are dark. Let there be the beautiful light of Jesus. This is my wish for all of you, when you turn on the light of the crib.” – Pope Francis
Also, though Christmas season liturgically ends after twelve days, you may want to also celebrate the Candlemas. This is a tradition for February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This is also the day when Mary waited the traditional amount of time before she entered the temple for purification after giving birth. Candles are used for this celebration because Simeon declared Jesus was a light.
11. Stay holly, jolly, and not turn into a Grinch!
So you’re a holly jolly person for Christmas, but afterwards you turn into a Grinch—tired of the bustle, not wanting to be around anyone or grumpy about the messes made? That no good! We all have responsibilities, but you don’t have to turn off the joy of Christmas the day it’s over.
Give others your time, your service, your donations, and your smile because even if you ate too many cookies or just got your credit card bill and are still in shock, it’s still Christmas and your Lord and Savior still saved your soul.
12. Evangelize through honesty and invitation!
If a coworker asks you what you did for vacation or the over the weekend, feel free to say that you went to Mass with family and celebrated Christ’s birth. Ask what they did in return. It’s a great way to spread the Good News through conversation and without intimidating people.
People casually ask “How are you?” all the time. They asked, so it’s okay to answer with just how merry your Christmas season is. I hope everyone has a Christmas celebration worth sharing, whether by bringing extra cookies to work, sharing a funny story about your child confusing the priest with Santa, or simply how peaceful it was to sit by the fire with hot chocolate.
What does Christmas mean to you, and how do you keep the Christmas season a celebration all twelve days? How does that impact the rest of your year as a Catholic?
Photo credit: Jeswin Thomas / unsplash