In our culture, the observance of Christmas begins in mid-October or even earlier, as stores put out their holiday displays.
But the calendar Catholics live and celebrate by is different from the secular world's. When we let our faith and the ancient wisdom and tradition of the Church center us as we plan, schedule, and organize our time, we're celebrating Christmas as Catholics.
As Catholics, we prepare for Christmas by celebrating the season of Advent in the four weeks preceding Christmas. We hear John the Baptist, echoing the words of the prophets of Israel, call us to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord in our own lives now, and to look for the fulfillment of his kingdom in the future.
Use an Advent Wreath
The circular wreath with four candles reminds us of God's eternal nature and the light Christ brings into our lives. You can say a prayer and light the candles before dinner each night or at some other consistent time.
Make a Jesse Tree
The Messiah was expected to come from the line of King David, son of Jesse. The Jesse Tree is a way of remembering Jesus' roots in Israel. Hang from the branches each day a symbol of an important point in Israel's history: an apple, Noah's ark, Jacob's ladder, David's harp, and so on.
Count Down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar
Advent calendars begin on December 1, with a door to be opened each day. Behind each door is a Scripture verse or small picture of a biblical scene. A calendar is great for keeping our focus (especially children's) on the coming of Christ.
Celebrate God’s Mercy
During Advent, we prepare our hearts for the Word who brought light into darkness. It is a particularly fitting time to welcome the light of God’s forgiveness into the dark places of our sinful lives by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Discover the History of Santa on the Feast of Saint Nicholas
St. Nicholas of Myra's feast on December 6 is celebrated in many European countries as a day to share gifts -- often candy, and often placed in shoes. As Europeans immigrated to the United States, various St. Nicholas traditions combined and emerged as Santa Claus. Sharing the story of St. Nicholas can help us emulate the generosity of his faith-filled life and reclaim this Christian saint.