Christmas time is here! (and this does not refer to the decorations you saw going up in the stores after Halloween) In the Catholic Church the celebration of Christmas begins at sundown on December 24th and runs through the Saturday before the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, which in 2011 falls on January 8th. The length of the Christmas Liturgical Season depends on which day of the week Christmas falls. The first Sunday after Christmas is the Solemnity of the Holy Family. The second Sunday after Christmas is the Solemnity of the Epiphany. The third Sunday after Christmas is the afore mentioned Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, which marks the first Sunday of Ordinary time. This year Christmas falls on a Saturday, which means the Christmas Season is the shortest in can possibly be: 15 days. Catholics living in the United States should remember that they are obligated to celebrate Mass on Christmas and on the day after, because it is a Sunday. However, January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, while usually a Holy Day of Obligation, is not this year because it falls on a Saturday (we need to give Father a break from all the Masses he celebrated the weekend before).
So remember, while the Christmas music will stop playing on the radio, the decorations will come down in the stores, and you will even see a few Christmas trees prematurely cast out of homes and left at the side of the road; Christmas time is still here for a joyful two week celebration – Merry Christmas!