Between Amens — Christmas remains in our hearts – The Record


Dr. Karen Shadle

Like many suburban neighborhoods, mine is loosely governed by a homeowners’ association.

For an annual fee, I cheerfully subjugate myself to its many regulations on such things as paint colors, mailboxes, lawn maintenance and holiday decorations.

So each year on the first weekend of January, I dutifully remove our home’s exterior lights.

All the while, I seditiously whisper, “Christmas isn’t over,” while hoarding rogue creches and garlands inside behind drawn curtains.

In this neighborhood, Christmas is over a bit too soon. So too in any retail facility, where it is practically Valentine’s Day on December 26.

For the church, Christmas is not a single day, but a whole season. In fact, the commercial/secular holiday season and the liturgical Christmas season are almost totally nonconcurrent, overlapping only briefly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

And even within the church, there is some disagreement about when Christmas ends. For most in the United States, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (usually the second Sunday in January) marks the end of the liturgical Christmas season and the beginning of Ordinary Time.

However, for many Catholics outside the United States, Eastern Rite Catholics, and those who follow the Tridentine calendar, the end of Christmas is tied to Epiphany, celebrated on its traditional date — Jan. 6. Epiphany is observed as more of a major feast in parts of Europe, often a holy day of obligation