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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

1 Answer 1

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

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