How many days is Christmas? 1, 2, 8, 12, 40? Certainly this makes a good trivia question, but the answer also reveals something about human priorities and psychology.
Current retail practice has Christmas (or winter or Holiday) decorations popping up immediately following Halloween. Anytime in December is fair game for company Christmas parties. Many families will extend their Christmas celebrations on both sides of Dec. 25 in order to gather with all the different parts of their family. All of these examples indicate that there is something about Christmas that needs preparation, digestion, reflection—that Christmas is too monumental to be confined to one day.
This isn’t unique to Christmas. Many of us celebrate a Birthday Week, scoring as many freebies as we can and having multiple gatherings and parties to celebrate another year of life. One day isn’t enough, especially when we are busy, stressed, & over-scheduled. We need more than one day to invest in building friendships and strong families, to celebrate a precious and unique life, to express gratitude sincerely.
This psychology is reflected in the Catholic Church celebrating an 8 day Christmas and a Christmas season that lasts between 15-20 days, which all follows a 4 week period of spiritual preparation known as Advent. The Christmas Octave begins on the eve of Dec. 24 and ends on January 1. The six days between the First Day (Dec. 25) and the Octave Day (Jan. 1) are all considered little Christmases, days to continue celebrate and ponder the significance of the Creator of the Universe taking on human flesh and human nature and coming into our midst as a crying, delicate infant named Jesus. Our Western calendars count the year from this moment--a turning point in history. A turning point that needs remembered every year and a mystery that can't be comprehended in just one day.
How many days will your Christmas last this year? What does your answer reveal about yourself?
St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Saline invites area families to celebrate Christmas with a Family Christmas Party on Wednesday evening, December 28. More information can be found here.