The Celebration has Just Begun

760px-Adoration_assisiToday is the 2nd day of Christmas.  All during the season that preceded this one, I was reminding people that it was not yet the Christmas Season that it was in fact the Season of Advent.  The Advent Season is the time of preparation for the Great Feast of The Nativity According to the Flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Because of our material obsession in America we throw Advent out the window and start the Nativity right after Halloween.  But we miss so much when we shorten, or completely forget about; the seasons as the Church indicted they should be celebrated.

Starting with the day of the Nativity itself, each of the following days has significance to it and should be commemorated as separate days.  These twelve days link together the great feast of the Nativity with the great feast of Theophany as one celebration naturally leads to another.

The Nativity of Christ is actually a three day celebration that starts on the eve of the 25th with, not only the celebration of the Birth of Christ, but also commemorates the Adoration of the Shepherds of Bethlehem and the arrival of the Magi (the three Wise Men).  The 2nd day celebrates the Synaxis of the Theotokos and commemorates the role of the Virgin Mary in the Incarnation. The 3rd Day commemorates the Protomartyr Stephen.  Each of these days has its own significance, and like the celebration of Pascha, is celebrated with a Divine Liturgy in some Churches.

There are other significant days during the twelve days such as December 29th the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the day we commemorate the children murdered by Herod in search of the Christ Child.  A fitting day to remember all of the innocents murdered by the sin of abortion every year.

The Sunday after the Nativity is the day set aside to commemorate Joseph the Betrothed, who is also commemorated the day following the Nativity, David the King, and James the Brother of the Lord.  These three are commemorated as the protectors, St. Joseph the protector of the Child Jesus, David the Protector of Israel, and James the protector of the Church of Jerusalem.

On January 1st we commemorated the Circumcision of our Lord and also St. Basil the Great.  This day is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.

January 2nd begins the preparation for the Great Feast of Theophany which culminates on January 5th with Great Vespers followed the next day with the Celebration of the Divine Liturgy and the Great Blessing of Waters.  According to the Liturgy Books, the Great Blessing is to take place at the conclusion of Great Vespers but because many of the faithful chose not to attend Great Vespers many Churches transfer the blessing to after the Divine Liturgy.

So the celebration of Christmas has just begun.  It is customary for the decorations to remain up until after the Feast of Theophany so keep those decorations up and keep these days of feast.

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