Merry Christmas! Happy Easter!
I grew up with a whole bunch of Merry Christmases throughout December and a smattering of Happy Easters as the Spring season approached. And, as we all know, the retail stores think Christmas starts somewhere in July, and that Easter starts in January.
For most of my life, and still, for the most part in my world, those holidays are celebrated in the weeks leading up to the actual holiday date.
But all that is changing now that I’m Catholic. We follow the Church calendar, and in the Church calendar… things are shifted. In the liturgical year, the holidays of Christmas and Easter don’t start until the actual day. And then it’s celebrated for days or even weeks after, depending on the holiday.
Because, before Christmas, it isn’t Christmas. It’s Advent. A period of waiting and anticipation. We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day, and continue celebrating Christmas until we celebrate the feast day of the Baptism of our Lord, which is in January.
And before Easter, it’s Lent. A solumn period of penance, fasting, and reflection. We celebrate Easter starting on Easter Vigil, and for a 40 day period following the Easter holiday. So, we Catholics just recently stopped celebrating the Easter season this year towards the end of May.
In short, these two major holidays don’t match up with when the rest of society celebrates them. And we are waaaay behind retail. Which is fine. Because it isn’t really us that is behind. Retail is waaaay too far ahead.
What It Means For Me
Well, I’m not entirely sure yet. The Savaryn family is still navigating the waters of how we want to celebrate holidays in line with the liturgical calendar.
But, this year, I didn’t take out my Easter decorations until Easter, and then took them down once we finished the Easter season.
However, December is so dark… it would be tough to imagine not putting out the Christmas Tree until Christmas Eve or something. And the tree doesn’t necessarily have as much to do with the religious observance of the holiday anyway. We do have an Advent Calender, which is pretty sweet. But I would like to do more in the future with regard to celebrating all the days of the Christmas season, starting on December 25th. As with Lent this year, we are hoping to slowly add traditions to our family repertoire each year to more fully embrace the richness of observing the holidays as the Church does in our own home.
Following the liturgical calendar is such a mindset shift, especially in how it relates to Christmas and Easter. But I’ve come to appreciate the periods of Lent and Advent, for the anticipation they build, and for the time they offer us to reflect upon the two major events of our religion: the birth and death/resurrection of our Savior. We don’t jump right to the baby in the manger. We wait, with Mary, with the world, for his arrival.
“We don’t jump right to the baby in the manger. We wait, with Mary, with the world, for his arrival.”
We don’t jump right to the empty grave. We acknowledge our role in His suffering. We experience the days and weeks leading up to the Passion of our Savior. We are with him as the time draws near. We are with Him in the garden. In the Upper Room. As He is betrayed. And spending that time in reflection has, helped me appreciate the joy of Easter morning that much more.
So, if in the future you see my decorations out a month after Easter, or, slightly more acceptably, weeks after Christmas, you will know the reason why. Because this new-ish Catholic is moving more towards living life within the beautiful rhythm and cycle of the liturgical calendar. And my life is becoming the richer for it.