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25 Ideas for Your Best Christmas Yet: A Catholic Celebration Guide

Christmas isn’t just a day; it’s an entire season—a time when the Catholic Church invites us to delve into the profound mystery of God meeting humanity in the flesh. The celebration extends beyond December 25th, spanning anywhere from 16 to 22 days until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Here are more than 21 traditions and practices, along with a few additional fun ideas, to help you fully embrace the spirit of Christ’s birth. These suggestions can become cherished traditions for your family, contributing to a joyous and meaningful Christmas season.

  1. Attend Midnight Mass Start Christmas with the heart of the celebration—Mass. Experience the classic Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, typically highlighted during Midnight Mass.
  2. Read or Chant from the Roman Martyrology Sing or chant the announcement of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Roman Martyrology on Christmas Eve for a formal declaration of Christ’s birth.
  3. Add Figures to Your Manger and Bless It Fill your nativity scene on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, adding figures like angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, and bless the scene using the provided blessing from the USCCB.
  4. Pray Before the Baby Jesus Encourage your family to kneel before the baby Jesus, imitating the shepherds and wise men, either after Christmas Mass or on Christmas morning.
  5. Create Your Own Nativity Play Make your nativity play at home, from elaborate productions to simple enactments by family members, emphasizing the true meaning of Christmas.
  6. Decorate and Bless Your Christmas Tree Decorate your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, signifying Christ’s arrival, and bless it using the Church’s blessing available at the USCCB.
  7. Make and Light a Christ Candle Extend the Advent wreath tradition by creating a Christ candle, symbolizing Christ as the light of the world, and light it throughout the Christmas season.
  8. Celebrate the Festival of Lessons and Carols Engage in the Festival of Lessons and Carols—a service of Scripture and song that reflects on the Fall, Messiah’s promise, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission.
  9. Perform More Works of Mercy Fulfill the Gospel message by reaching out to the poor and oppressed throughout the Christmas season, instilling the true spirit of Christmas in your family.
  10. Organize a Christmas Caroling Party Spread joy and evangelize by singing Christmas carols at local jails, hospitals, or nursing homes, combining the joy of music with a work of mercy.
  11. Mark the Feasts of the First Martyrs Acknowledge the feasts of St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist, and the Holy Innocents, reminding your family of Christ’s arrival in a world marked by darkness.
  12. Celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family Use this occasion to create a simple family tree, discussing what family means and consecrating your family to the Holy Family.
  13. Celebrate Mary and World Peace on January 1 Observe January 1 as the Octave Day of Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and the Church’s World Day of Peace, incorporating special treats and prayers.
  14. Conduct a Family “Examen” of the Year On January 1, use the Ignatian Daily Examen format to reflect on your family’s past year, sharing memories, high points, and low points.
  15. Bless Your Home and Household on Epiphany Continue traditions by blessing your home on the Feast of the Epiphany, using the traditional chalk markings and prayers found in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.
  16. Send the Magi on a Journey Through Your House Place the three kings in different areas of your house daily between Christmas and Epiphany, involving your kids in a joyful search for the magi.
  17. Hold a Procession of the Magi Read the Gospel account of the Magi’s visit, then have your children march through the house holding the figures of the three kings and singing “We Three Kings.”
  18. Eat King’s Cake Embrace the tradition of King’s Cake, a sweet treat with a hidden baby Jesus, symbolizing the Magi’s search for the infant Jesus.
  19. Celebrate Twelfth Night Revive the largely forgotten Twelfth Night celebration on January 6, featuring a feast with twelve courses and reflecting the traditional spirit of Epiphany.
  20. Celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Mark the end of the Christmas season by attending Mass on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, reflecting on your family’s baptisms and the significance of this sacrament.
  21. Wish People a Merry Christmas Extend the joy of Christmas throughout the season by wishing people a Merry Christmas, fostering the true spirit of the season.

Non-religious (but Fun) Christmas Traditions

  1. Eat a Special Christmas Eve Dinner Explore traditional Christmas Eve meals from different cultures, like the French réveillon, the Italian Feast of Seven Fishes, or the Polish Wigilia meal.
  2. Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Make the selection of your Christmas tree a memorable family event by cutting your own tree at a local tree farm.
  3. Make Your Own Christmas Tree Ornaments Engage in a creative activity by making homemade Christmas tree ornaments, incorporating simple and visually appealing designs.
  4. Christmas Eve Luminaries Adopt the tradition of setting out luminaries—candles in paper bags—on Christmas Eve, creating a warm and inviting light display in your home.
  5. Watch a Christmas Classic Enjoy the magic of Christmas movies and TV shows, passing on the tradition of watching classics like “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” to your children.

As you embark on these Christmas traditions, may they enhance the joy, gratitude, and spirituality of the season, creating lasting memories for your family. And, in the words of Linus from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” may you always remember “what Christmas is all about.”

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