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I went to Mass this past Friday, where The Feast of the Presentation (aka Candlemas or the Purification) was celebrated. In olden days and in some countries still today, this 40th day after Christmas marks the end of the Christmas season. Since I no longer live in the olden days or in other countries, this did get me to thinking about our much shorter yuletide..

Yes, I am a Catholic, which I make no apologies for, other than for occasional mystification.  The usual imponderables, like the Virgin Birth or the Trinity, don't bewilder me. Rather, it's the calendar. You see, I think Christmas is too short a season, despite the stores beginning after Halloween. Look at the world today, where people are routinely yelling at each other, cursing and giving the finger (I live in New York), except during the holiday season, when the City seems peaceful and happy, largely I suspect because the tourists outnumber the rest of us.

So I revel in the fact that although the day after Christmas, all-music radio stations cease playing carols, stores take down their decorations, and trees are found on the sidewalks awaiting trash pick up, on any given Sunday (or weekday) I can still visit a Church and be greeted by the manger, the heavenly host, lighted Christmas trees and carols continuing. Unlike the secular Christmas season which ends as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 26, the liturgical season continues until the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, generally the week after the Epiphany (the Three Wise Men) on January 6. Thus for example in 2019, Christmas season continued until January 13.  A whole 'nother week for me to look forward to all being merry and bright.


Except this year. The Lord's baptism was celebrated on January 7. I lost a week of Christmas. Since January 7th seemed to my observant eye to fall suspiciously short of a week after the Epiphany, I looked into the matter.


The Vatican News site states: "When the Feast of the Epiphany is not celebrated on 6 January, it is celebrated on the Sunday between 2 and 8 January, and the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the Monday following the Epiphany."


Huh? Not only does it make no sense to me, I don't even understand what the Vatican is saying. I'd write the Pope, but I expect he has other pressing matters than my Christmas chagrin and calendar confusion. Having said that, we left our tree and outdoor lights up another week, partially out of laziness and partially so I could ponder simpler theological matters. Like the Virgin Birth.




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