Question: When does the Christmas season begin and end?
Answer: By December 26th Christians have been subjected to over a month of exhortation to go into debt purchasing often unwanted gifts for everyone they know. The "holiday music" -- music that has been playing since Halloween is thankfully silent. Just when it is time to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, the secular world wants to move on to the next commercialization of the Church year, Saint Valentine's Day -- usually minus the word "saint."
This "get it over and get on with it" is far from the Catholic tradition. We who have been observing the somber days of Advent would like the music and glitter to have been delayed by those four weeks, and would like the opportunity to enjoy it now. On the Church calendar the Christmas season extends all the way to February 2nd. In practice, it ought to go on at least until the Epiphany Octave has been completed on January 13th.
The Christmas story barely begins on December 25th. It is filled out with an Octave, commemorating our Lord's circumcision on the eighth day of His life, January 1st, with a special mention of Him receiving the Holy Name of Jesus on the 2nd. Mary and Joseph visit the Temple on the Sunday after Christmas, about which we will hear more on February 2nd with our Lord's Presentation in the Temple. We hear about the slaughter of the Holy Innocents on December 28th, and the Flight into Egypt on the second day of the Epiphany Octave. The Epiphany on January 6th commemorates the visit of the three wisemen (as well as our Lord's Baptism and first miracle). These are not days to be passed over in the haste of shopping for chocolates and heart shaped cards.
The commercialization of Christmas might not seem so bad if it was not coupled with such secularization. All of these important events of the Christmas season -- and even the very birth of our Redeemer -- seem to become more obscure with each passing year. Christmas has gone from "holy" to "merry," and is in danger of being replaced altogether with "the holidays." Some of this is rooted in the mistaken notion that in a pluralistic society everyone must keep his religion hidden from public view. But the double standard of "politically correct" cultural Marxism is obviously at work: no one gets upset if Jewish people observe Chanukah, or if Black people observe Qwanza -- indeed, Ramadan seems to have taken on new meaning as politicians and the liberal media fall backwards over Islam -- but Christianity and Christmas are somehow different and unacceptable.
Some of this results from the muddled thinking of Christian leaders, mistaking the Redemption of mankind for a sign that everyone will be saved no matter how outlandish their behavior or their beliefs. "None of these things matter," we are told, if "we all just ignore our differences and get along." That may be why a genuine understanding of Christmas is considered so dangerous to the ecumenical agenda of the globalists. The truth does matter -- peace, prosperity, and certainly salvation cannot be built on lies. Catholicism is the religion of the Incarnation. The Son of God, Truth Himself, took human nature for Himself, becoming one of us in order to redeem us and to teach us the beliefs and behaviors absolutely essential for salvation. This Incarnate God left these means of salvation in the hands of the Church that He established on earth -- thus, without limitation of time or place, they are available to those who cooperate with His graces.
Christianity threatens liberalism because it is tangible; because the existence of a God-man proclaims clearly that all other "gods," and even other ways of worshipping the true God, are false. Belief matters, for Incarnate Truth Himself has told us what we must believe. And, even more than the Annunciation, Christmas is the feast that most people associate with the Incarnation. Therefore it must be reduced to "the holidays," and observed only with "ritual" shopping and a few platitudes about universal brotherhood and understanding (platitudes that only the Christians will actually be expected to observe).
Cultural Marxism is a battle for minds, as a means of taking souls. We can help to resist it by simply carrying out a traditional Catholic observance of the Christmas season. Keep your tree up and your lights on a little bit longer this year -- at least until Epiphany. Buy a few white candles and burn them in your Advent wreath. Get some epiphany chalk and write the names of the wise men in front of your house. Play some Christmas carols with the windows open on new years day....
Jesus Christ came into the world to save us through His Incarnation. Let your joy be seen by all the world during the Christmas Season.