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Ana Kamasheva wrote:

Hi, guys —

My name is Ana and I'm from Russia.

I am doing a research work about how the Orthodox and Catholic Churches view Christmas and I have a few questions. I would highly appreciate your answering them.

  • What is Christmas?
  • How did Christmas come to be celebrated on December 25th?
  • How do Catholics celebrate this day?
  • What are the main traditions of celebrating Christmas? (e.g. food, customs, etc.)

Thank you so much in advance.

Ana Kamasheva

  { How does the Catholic Church celebrate Christmas and what are Her customs and traditions? }

Mike replied:

Hi Ana,

I assume you want to compare the Catholic Christmas customs with those of the Russian Orthodox Church.

I don't think there are answers to all your questions in our knowledge base, so I'd do the best I can to answer those that aren't.

You said:

  • What is Christmas?

Christmas is when Catholic Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the God-Man, who is One Substance with the Father.

Personally, I view it as the First Epiphany or Manifestation of Our Lord Jesus.

  • Why?

Because Jesus had already been born when He was conceived by Our Blessed Mother nine months prior to the day we celebrate His birth on December 25th. We celebrate His Conception at the Annunciation, nine months earlier on March 25th on the Roman Catholic calendar.

You may be interested in my commentary on this:

You said:

  • How did Christmas come to be celebrated on December 25th?

This posting from our knowledge base should answer your question.

You said:

  • How do Catholics celebrate this day?
  • What are the main traditions of celebrating Christmas? (e.g. food, customs, etc.)

There are a number of individual ways Catholic families celebrate Christmas.

In the same way the Season of Lent prepares us for Easter Sunday; the four weeks prior to Christmas Day, called Advent, prepare us for Christmas Day and the celebration of Jesus' Birthday. During both these periods, Lent and Christmas, the Church usually offers the faithful more times to attend the sacraments, especially Confession, in preparation for renewing their covenant each Sunday. They also may offer more spiritual events like retreats or parish missions.

During Advent, the Church uses an Advent Wreath with four candles on the wreath. One candle is lit for each week in Advent up until Christmas Day. By that time, Christmas Day, all four candles have been lit. The celebrant during both Sunday Mass and daily Mass wears different colored vestments as well. The Church also uses a different set of readings during this time on the liturgical calendar. How do we celebrate Christmas in the Catholic Church?

  • We, first and foremost, all celebrate with the Lord by renewing our covenant with Him by going to Holy Mass.
  • Many families have family get-togethers over dinner either just before Christmas or on Christmas Day.
  • Many buy gifts for family, in-law's, and other friends but this may vary depending on:
    • location
    • financial means, and
    • other reasons.

I hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hi, Ana —

You said:

  • How did Christmas come to be celebrated on December 25th?

I recommend you read this posting from our database.

John

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