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When does Christmas really end for Catholics? I know it starts different for most Eastern Orthodox, but for Latin Rite Catholics, like myself, I don't know when it actually is supposed to end. At the very least I know it's over by Ash Wednesday, but there there seem to be very real reasons to celebrate from

  1. December 25 - January 1st (the octave of Christmas, ending with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God)
  2. December 25 - January 6th (the 12 days of Christmas, ending with the Epiphany)
  3. December 25 - February 2nd (40 day celebration, ending with the Presentation)

So, I guess the real question is who has the stamina to party Catholic style for 40 days, especially after the hubbub leading up to Christmas, but in a liturgical sense, when does the Christmas season end?

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Hey, Jimmy Akin answered this for me one day after I asked. Must have been sharing a wavelength – Peter Turner Dec 29 '11 at 18:14

2 Answers 2

From Wikipedia:

The Christmas season immediately follows Advent. The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas begin with Christmas Eve on the evening of December 24 and continue until the feast of Epiphany. The actual Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which in the present form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on the Sunday after 6 January.

In the pre-1970 form, this feast is celebrated on 13 January, unless 13 January is a Sunday, in which case the feast of the Holy Family is celebrated instead. Until the suppression of the Octave of the Epiphany in the 1960 reforms, 13 January was the Octave day of the Epiphany, providing the date for the end of the season.

The period following Christmas is called Ordinary Time or Time after Epiphany.

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OK, so the answer was none of the above. Figures. Anyway, I'm not going to accept an answer that doesn't take into account the feast of the presentation as it applies to modern celebrations of Christmas, but thank you for looking this up. – Peter Turner Dec 28 '11 at 14:10
But liturgically speaking the Presentation has very little to do with the Christmas season. There is a vestige or two of Christmas that lasts until the Presentation (e.g., singing Alma Redemptoris Mater after Compline, which is required in the Extraordinary Form), but in most respects, the Baptism of the Lord is the end of the season. Maybe you could clarify your question if you don't feel like this really answers it? – Ben Dunlap Dec 28 '11 at 23:15

February 2nd (40 day celebration, ending with the Presentation) People confuse the Christmas Season with the Christmas Shopping Season At Christmas we celebrate the Word become flesh, coming to dwell among us as the light of the human race, just after the darkest point of the solar year. Christmas, therefore, is a holy day second only to Easter in the Roman calendar. The Octave of Christmas (octave means eight; hence the octave of Christmas lasts for eight days) begins with Christmas day and ends after the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The season of Christmas ends, and Ordinary Time begins, on the Monday after the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, which signifies the purification of the world, through Christ Himself.

Tradition: decorating for Christmas begins on Christmas Eve... decorations are removed after Candlemas. (I am originally from Chicago & now in Phoenix... what I have seen these last several years & this sickens me... Christmas decorations are up even before advent begins & are taken down "...On the second day of Christmas My true love gave to me Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree..." :) Many Christians observe Candlemas but it is not a public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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