Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (2024)

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Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Other Commemorations: St. Anastasia, Martyr (RM); St. Albert Chmielowski, Religious (RM)

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (1)

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December 25, 2021(Readings on USCCB website)


Solemnity of Christmas: O God, who gladden us year by year as we wait in hope for our redemption grant that, just as we joyfully welcome your Only Begotten Son as our Redeemer, we may also merit to face him confidently when he comes again as our Judge. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


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Today the Church celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ, the first day in the octave of Christmas. Throughout Advent the Church longed ardently for the coming of our Savior. Today she celebrates His birth with unrestrained joy. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." The Son of God became man to give us a share in that divine life which is eternally His in the Blessed Trinity. Christmas time begins on December 24 with the first Vespers of the feast and ends on the feast of the Baptism of Christ. White vestments reappear in our churches as a sign of joy.

The Christmas feast is a festival full of joy. The Eternal Word has become Man and dwells among us. The longings of the patriarchs and prophets are fulfilled. Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (3)With the shepherds we hurry to the manger and adore the Incarnate Son of God, who for us and for our salvation descended upon earth. The purpose of the Christmas feast is beautifully expressed in the Preface of the Nativity: "For by the mystery of the Word made flesh the light of Thy glory hath shone anew upon the eyes of our mind; so that while we acknowledge Him a God seen by men, we may be drawn by Him to the love of things unseen."

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (4)

About Christmas
During the Christmas season there is an extensive exchange of greetings and good wishes among friends. These greetings are a reminder of those "good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people, for this day is born to you a Savior Who is Christ the Lord" (Lk. 2:11). They are a reminder, too, that all blessings and graces come to us from Christ: "Hath He not also with Him given us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).

Typically there is also an exchange of gifts. This custom should recall to us that on this day God Himself gave to us the greatest of all gifts, His beloved Son: "God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son" (John 3: 16).

The Christmas tree, of which the first-known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (5)It symbolizes the great family tree of Christ which through David and Jesse has its roots in Abraham, the father of the chosen race. It is often laden with gifts to remind us that Christmas brought us the priceless gifts of grace and of eternal life. It is frequently adorned with lights that recall to us that Christ is the Light of the world enlightening those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Though not entirely unknown before, the custom of the Christmas Crib or Creche was adopted by St. Francis of Assisi at Greccio, Italy, on Christmas 1225. It is a concrete and vivid way of representing to ourselves the Incarnation and birth of Christ. It depicts in a striking manner the virtues of the newborn Savior, especially His humility, poverty, and charity.

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (6)Catholic Culture offers these links to help you experience the joy of Christmas by keeping a spiritual focus on the season.

Throughout this wonderful time there will always be much hustle and bustle, shopping and baking and gift giving. But we hope you will refer to the Catholic Culture calendar often for ideas and spiritual nuggets to increase your Christmas joy.

Let us try to celebrate Christmas with the innocence and humility of children always keeping in mind the wonderful birth of the Christ Child.

Joy to the world the Lord has come, let earth receive her King.

Highlights and Things to Do:

  • Christmas at Home and in the Liturgy
  • Read about the The Masses of Christmas
  • Put Christ Back in Christmas
  • Listen to the Catholic Culture audiobook of St. John Henry Newman: The Special Charm of Christmas read by James Majewski.

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (7)

Christmas—The First Day
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (8)The purest of Virgins gave us our God, who was this day born of her, clothed in the flesh of a Babe, and she was found worthy to feed him at her Breast: let us all adore Christ, who came to save us.

Ye faithful people, let us all rejoice, for our Savior is born in our world: this Day there has been born the Son of the great Mother, and she yet a pure Virgin.

O Queen of the world, and Daughter of a kingly race! Christ has risen from thy womb, as a Bridegroom coming from the bride-chamber: He that rules the stars lies in a Crib.
—Antiphon from the ancient Church of Gaul

  • Day One Activity (Christmas Drama)
  • Day One Recipe (Breton Nut Bread)

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (9)

Meditation: Christmas: the Lord’s Birth
Today is the great solemnity that shows the world that the Word incarnate, the Savior of mankind, is finally born. God becoming truly man is an enormous event [….]. Something truly happens that goes beyond any evolutionary process: the fusion of man and God, the creature and the Creator. It is not the progression of another step in the evolutionary process, but the eruption of a personal action, founded on love, that from this point forward reveals to men new space and possibilities. (Joseph Ratzinger in God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, 2001, p. 197).

Christmas says to us: alone we can’t profoundly change the world to remedy it. Alone, we can make the world better or worse, but we can’t save it. Christ came therefore, because left to ourselves; we couldn’t escape the ‘mortal disease’ that has enveloped us from the first moment of conception in our mother’s womb. This gives us hope, true hope, and true Christian optimism: I can’t do it but He is there! This is the mystery of grace synthesized in the human figure of God incarnate.

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (10)Christmas Eve and Christmas day are moments of contemplation. We consider, in many dimensions, the mystery of love that was incarnated for us. First of all, we contemplate the light and joy, without forgetting Jesus and Mary’s sorrows and sufferings, and the many difficulties that had surrounded them: the cold, the uncomfortable place, the dangers….. It would be good to accompany these thoughts by reciting and meditating slowly on the Holy Rosary, preferably in front of a crib. ‘Blessed grotto of Bethlehem that testified to the wonders! Who, in this hour would not turn our hearts? Who would not prefer the opulent palace of the King?’ (P. Guéranger, L’Anno Liturgico, Alba 1959 [orig. franc. 1841], I, p122).

Listen to the way that St Bonaventure, the seraphic doctor, invites us to contemplate this scene in his ‘Meditation on the life of Jesus Christ’: You have also lingered, bent your knee, adored the Lord God, venerated His Mother and greeted Joseph, the holy old man, with reverence. Therefore, kiss the feet of the baby Jesus, who lies in the manger, and pray that the Holy Virgin will allow you to hold Him. Take Him between your arms, hold Him and see His lovable face, kiss it with reverence and rejoice with Him. You can do this because He has come to bring salvation to sinners and He has humbly conversed with them, finally giving Himself as food' (cit. in Guéranger, pp 136-137).

Christmas also reminds us of the great mystery of God’s people, of the Church acquired through Christ’s blood, animated by the life giving Spirit, governed by the legitimate shepherds in communion with the successor of Peter. On this day in which the Word came to earth, assuming human nature, body, and soul, how can we not think about His Mystical Body that is animated by the Holy Spirit? ‘For this reason, by no weak analogy, [the Church] is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body’ (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, n.8).

Holy Christmas also reminds us of the mystery of Mary as Mother of God, mother of the Incarnated Word, and mother of His mystical body, the Church. Christmas encourages us to contemplate Jesus together with Mary, reflecting on Jesus with ‘His mother’, as recounted many times in the Gospels. If our faith must be fully evangelical, it can not neglect a sane and profound devotion to the Mother of God, as she shows us the easiest way to reach Jesus.
—From the Dicastery for the Clergy

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (11)

St. Anastasia
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (12)We include St. Anastasia's commemoration because the Station for the second Mass of Christmas, Mass at Dawn, is with St. Anastasia, in the Roman Church Sant'Anastasia al Palatino.

Anastasia was martyred at Sirmium in Dalmatia (today's Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia), probably under Diocletian, but only worthless legends have survived concerned her. She was venerated in Rome in the fifth century and, under the influence of Byzantine officials there (Anastasia's relics had been translated to Constantinople), her memory became associated with the second Mass of Christmas; she is still commemorated at that Mass in the Roman Missal, though the Byzantines keep her feast on December 22. She is named in the canon of the Mass.
—From A Dictionary of Saints by Donald Attwater

Patronage: martyrs; weavers; widows; Borgorose, Italy

Symbols and Representation: woman with palm branch of martyrdom; woman holding a small cross and vase; woman with a flame in her hand; woman holding a bowl with a flame in it

Highlights and Things to Do:

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (13)

The Solemnity of the Nativity the Lord, At Night (First Mass of Christmas) and Mass During the Day (Third Mass of Christmas)
Station with Santa Maria Maggiore ad praesepe (St. Mary Major at the Crib):

The feast of Christmas is distinguished by a threefold celebration of the Mass. The old Romans imitated a venerable custom of the Church at Jerusalem. There the Christians assembled at the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem and consecrated the hour of the Lord's birth by the celebration of a night Mass. Thereupon they returned to Jerusalem, arriving at early dawn. Nothing seemed more fitting than to spend that hour commemorating the resurrection in the church of the Resurrection, keeping Christmas with the shepherds. This was their second Mass.

On the day itself they would gather again in Jerusalem's main church for the Mass. Thus originated the custom of three Masses on Christmas. When the custom was adopted in Rome, the first, or midnight mass was held in Mary's church of the Crib (St. Mary Major meant Bethlehem to the Roman Christians); the second Mass was celebrated at St. Anastasia's; and the day's final liturgy took place back originally at St. Peter's, but it became St. Mary Major. From Rome the custom spread throughout the West; and when priests began to offer holy Mass daily, it became customary for every priest to celebrate three Masses on Christmas.

The Station is at St. Mary Major's, for the Mass at Dawn add ad praesepe, that is, "at the Crib." In this basilica is a model of the Crib of Jesus, dating from at least the time of Sixtus III (432-440). In the seventh century, a relic from the Crib at Bethlehem was placed there. To the Romans, St. Mary Major represented "Bethlehem". Our gaze is fixed on the crib which has become the throne of the God-man. The Third Mass, Mass During the Day is just at St. Mary Major's without mention of the crib.

For more on Santa Maria Maggiore, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (14)The Solemnity of the Nativity the Lord, Mass at Dawn (Second Mass of Christmas)
Station with Sant'Anastasia al Palatino (St. Anastasia of Palatine):

Today's stational church is St. Anastasia, dedicated to the early 4th century martyr St. Anastasia of Sirmium, who is included in the Roman Canon. The Mass of the Aurora or Dawn on Christmas Day was celebrated, often referred to as the Mass of the Shepherds. The Church of St. Anastasia was the Greek palace church (anastasis means "resurrection"). The Mass has the themes of the rising sun and the shepherds' visit to the crib. All about us is light as amazed we behold the newborn King of the world. Pope Francis granted the church to the Syro Malabar Church in July 2020.

For more on Sant'Anastasia al Palatino, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.

St. Albert Chmielowski
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (15)As a young revolutionary and artist in Poland, Adam Chmielowski was not a young man whom people thought would someday be a saint.

He was born in 1845 to wealthy parents and studied agriculture with plans of taking over his family's estate near Krakow. In 1863 he took part in an uprising against Czar Alexander IIII and the Russian army and lost a leg in the fighting when he was just 17. Because of his actions against Russia, he had to leave Poland. Young Adam went to Belgium, where he discovered he had some artistic ability. He also studied painting in Paris and Germany.

Chmielowski returned to Poland when he was nearly 30 and soon became concerned with the suffering of the many homeless and impoverished Poles. He worked in homeless shelters and eventually realized that it was this work, rather than politics or art, that called to him.

In 1887 he joined religious life as Brother Albert of the Third Order of St. Francis. He lived in the homeless shelters with those he served. Within a year, Brother Albert had founded his own branch of the Franciscans, the Servants of the Poor, who are sometimes called the Albertine Brothers. A few years later he helped found a women's congregation with the same intent of helping Poland's poor.

Brother Albert believed that the biggest problem of the world was that people did not open their eyes to the suffering of others and offer help. He believed that the divisions in society among the rich and the poor enabled that "blindness."

He died on December 25, 1916, in a shelter he had opened in Krakow. Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized him a saint of the church in 1989.

As a young priest in Krakow, Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote a play about Brother Albert, God's Brother. He said he drew spiritual inspiration from Brother Albert's act of leaving behind an artistic career to give his life to God and others.
—Excerpted from Saints Resource

Patronage: Painters, Servants of the Poor, Sisters Servants of the Poor, Franciscan tertiaries, Soldiers

Highlights and Things to Do:

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - December 25, 2021 - Liturgical Calendar (2024)


Was Jesus really born on December 25th? ›

To put it more bluntly, there isn't an actual December 25th Bible verse. The absence of a precise birth date in these Gospels is significant. It reflects the early Christian focus on the theological meaning of Jesus' life rather than the historical details.

What is the Catholic Christmas solemnity? ›

The main difference between the Easter Octave and the Christmas Octave is that every day in Easter is another solemnity, and Christmas only has two solemnities, December 25, Christmas and January 1, Mary Mother of God. The days in-between are varying levels of feast days.

What is the liturgy of the Nativity? ›

The Divine Liturgy of the Nativity is the fulfillment of the Christmas services. For forty days, we fasted and looked forward to this feast; on the Sundays before Christmas, we recalled the Old Testament figures who looked forward to it. In the evening and nighttime services we welcomed the newborn King.

What happened on 25 December in the Bible? ›

Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25. This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa.

Who decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th? ›

Under Emperor Constantine, the Church in Rome began celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 in 336. Some say the date was chosen to outshine the Sol Invictus and pagan celebrations. But there's much doubt around whether Christians had been trying to steal Sol Invictus' thunder.

Why was December 25 chosen as the birthday of Jesus in Christianity? ›

The Roman Christian historian Sextus Julius Africanus dated Jesus' conception to March 25 (the same date upon which he held that the world was created), which, after nine months in his mother's womb, would result in a December 25 birth.

What is the difference between a feast and a solemnity? ›

Solemnities are like Sundays, though most of them are not days of obligation. Feasts are the next rank down and are identified with an F. They consist of the celebration of certain saints like the feast of the Archangels or most of the Apostles. The Gloria is required on these days, but not the Creed.

What solemnity is December 25? ›

On December 25, we observe the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Since the fourth century, Christians have marked this day as the beginning of the Christmas season. Second only to Easter, Christmas is one of the most important days in the Church. The Nativity tells the story of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem.

Why is the Solemnity of Mary not a holy day this year? ›

While it is a holy day of obligation most years, in 2024, it will not be a holy day of obligation. Therefore, the faithful in the United States are not required to attend Mass during this solemnity. This dispensation is granted when this specific solemnity falls on a Saturday or Monday.

What month was Jesus actually born? ›

A Christian treatise attributed to John Chrysostom and dating to the early fourth century AD associates Jesus's birth with the birthday of Sol: Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December ... the eighth before the calends of January [25 December] ... But they [the pagans] call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered'.

What date was Jesus actually born? ›

Some scholars believe that he was born between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C., based partly on the biblical story of King Herod the Great. In an attempt to kill Jesus, the king allegedly ordered the death of all male infants under the age of 2 who lived in the vicinity of Bethlehem, an event known as the Massacre of the Innocents.

Who was born on 25 December biblically? ›

The widely celebrated December 25th as Jesus Christ's birth lacks historical validation. The Bible omits a specific date, and details like shepherds' presence suggest a warmer season. December 25th possibly emerged from pagan celebrations, merged strategically by early Christians.

What happened to Jesus on December 25th? ›

The Christian Faith is grounded in historical facts about a man who was born, most likely in December and crucified most likely in March. We know that he was born; and we choose to celebrate his birth on December 25th without apology. We know He died at Passover time, and we believe he arose from the dead Easter Day.

Why is the 25th of December important? ›

On December 25, Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Christ. The origins of the holiday are uncertain; by the year 336, however, the Christian church in Rome observed the Feast of the Nativity on December 25.

When was Jesus's actual birthday? ›

The date of the birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical sources and the evidence is too incomplete to allow for consistent dating. However, most biblical scholars and ancient historians believe that his birth date is around 4 to 6 BC.

Was Jesus really born in March? ›

The Christian Faith is grounded in historical facts about a man who was born, most likely in December and crucified most likely in March. We know that he was born; and we choose to celebrate his birth on December 25th without apology. We know He died at Passover time, and we believe he arose from the dead Easter Day.

Is December 25 a pagan holiday? ›

Almost certainly from existing pagan celebrations. The winter solstice (shortest day) had always been celebrated by primitive peoples as the beginning of hope for the arrival of spring.

What month was Jesus born according to the Hebrew calendar? ›

The month mentioned is Xanthicus in the Macedonian calendar, corresponding to the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar. Therefore, according to this source, Nativity Day was on Kislev 25 and Epiphany on 6 Tevet.


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