The Catholic Church celebrates Christmas for twelve days.
While the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated Dec. 25, the Twelve days of Christmas begins on Christmas Day, Dec. 25(beginning at sundown), and ends at sunrise on Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. During the Christmas season the priest’s vestments are gold to symbolize the sacredness of the Christmas season. The change in the color of vestments indicates that Advent is over. During Advent, the priest’s vestments are purple to symbolize the holy season of waiting and prayer.
According to legend, the song The Twelve Days of Christmas was actually written by Jesuit priests in England during the sixteenth century. It was a time of persecution and the song was used to secretly teach basic facts regarding the Catholic faith. If someone studied all the items represented in the song they knew the basics of the catholic faith.
Each number had a secret meaning:
Twelve represented the twelve teachings mentioned in the Apostles Creed;
Eleven represented the faithful Apostles;
Ten represented the commandments;
Nine represented the choirs of angels;
Eight represented the Beatitudes;
Seven represented the seven sacraments;
Six represented the six days of creation;
Five represented the first books of the Old Testament;
Four represented the four gospels;
Three represented the Trinity;
Two represented the two natures of Christ…human and divine;
and One represented Jesus himself, our Lord and our God.
The Pear Tree represented the cross we must carry when we follow Christ.
The Apostles’ Creed is a summary of the faith taught by the Apostles. When we pray the Apostles Creed we are professing our faith in the church begun by the Apostles.
The Apostles’ Creed
- We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
- We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
- He suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified, died and was buried.
- He descended into hell.
- On the third day he rose again.
- He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
- He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
- We believe in the Holy Spirit,
- The holy catholic Church,
- The communion of saints,
- The resurrection of the body
- and life everlasting. Amen
The Catholic Church has feast days throughout the year. Many of its feast days are in honor of the saints. The feast day given to a saint is usually the day he or she died and entered heaven.
Take a small amount of time each day during the twelve days of Christmas to meditate on the actual feast day we are celebrating.
The Nativity of Our Lord; December 25
The Word of God,
the Day whose light shines
upon the angels…
put on flesh and was born
of the Virgin Mary.
Quote of St. Augustine (Feast day August 28)
Feast day of St. Stephen; December 27
St. Stephen; First Martyr
Look! I see an opening in the sky,
and the Son of Man standing
at God’s right hand…
Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Lord, do not hold
this sin against them.
Quote of St. Stephen
St. John the Evangelist; December 27
Apostle and Evangelist
St. John the Evangelist was one of the twelve Apostles. He wrote the fourth gospel: The Gospel of John. He is also known as the ‘Beloved Disciple’.
In the beginning
was the Word,
and the Word was God.
Gospel of John
The Holy Innocents; December 28
The Holy Innocents are the innocent children murdered by King Herod after the Magi told him about birth of the new King of the Jews, called the Christ child. The little children were murdered in an attempt to find and murder Christ, “The King of the Jews”.
The star of Bethlehem
in the night of sin.
Quote of St. Edith Stein (Feast day August 9)
St. Thomas Becket; Feast Day December 29
St. Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was also a martyr. He was murdered with swords in the year 1170.
I feel as though I am with Mary and Joseph beside the Crib.
It is good to be there. Outside are the cold and the snow,
images of the world, but in the little cave,
lit by the light of Jesus, it is sweet and warm and light.
Quote of Bl. Charles de Foucauld (Feast day December 1)
St. Anysia; Feast Day December 30
St. Anysia was a martyr in Greece. She lived from 284-309. She was killed with a sword after being accosted by a soldier. She used her wealth to help the poor.
The prayer of a good innocent,and obedient child is like dew from heaven falling upon his whole family.
Quote of Bl. John XIII
St. Sylvester I; Feast Day December 31
St. Sylvester I was the Bishop of Rome. He died in the year 335 after helping to define doctrine at the Council of Nicea which proclaimed the Nicean Creed.
Call of Peter (Luke 5:20)
Do not be afraid;
from now on,
you will be catching people.”
Call of Levi (Luke 4:27)
Mary, Mother of God; Feast Day January 1
Mary was the Mother of Jesus and wife of St. Joseph. She was chosen by God the Father to bring Jesus into the world and raise him.
“Why should we be astonished if the God
who could work marvels in the scripture
and through His saints should choose to
reveal Himself even more marvelous
by means of His Mother?”
Quote of St. Bernard (Feast day August 20)
Feast day of St. Basil the Great; Feast Day January 2
St. Basil was the Bishop of Constantinople. He was known for his preaching and defending the two natures of Christ…both human and divine.
Troubles are usually the brooms
and shovels that smooth the road
to a good man’s fortune;
and many a man curses the rain that
falls upon his head,
and knows not
that it brings abundance.
Quote of St. Basil the Great
Most Holy Name of Jesus; Feast Day January 3
Jesus in the soul’s abyss is sweeter far than earthly bliss.
A flower strong is that name mild. Ne’er disturbed by
tempest wild. far lovelier than a diamond bright.
That name adorns the soul with light.
The name of Jesus sweetly rings like rarest zither’s silver strings.
Ah, Jesus, for your names blest sake, forgive my sins,
Grant, dear Lord, that your fair name may wound my
heart with holy pain. Jesus, choicest love be ever thine.
Bless me Jesus, God of power, now and in
death’s departing hour.
Quote of Bl. Henry Suso (Feast day March 2)
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; Feast Day January 4
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first native born American to be canonized. She lived in New York, dying in 1821. She is the Founder and first Superior of the Sister of Charity in the U.S.
“Be attentive to the voice of Grace.”
Quote of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
St. John N. Neumann; Feast Day January 5
St. John N. Neumann was bprn in Bohemia. He emigrated to the U.S. becoming a Redemptorist priest and the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. He is the first American bishop to be canonized.
A man must always
be ready for death,
for death comes
when and where God wills it.
Quote of St. John N. Neumann
Feast of the Epiphany; Feast Day January 6
The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the Three Kings following the star to visit Jesus. They brought the King of the Jews gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The simple shepherds
heard the voice of an angel
and found their lamb;
the wise men saw the light of
a star and found their wisdom.
Quote of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen