It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let There Be Peace on Earth (Relevant New Verse)

The Catholic Squire: I wrote this a few years ago on an airplane, but I think its worth sharing today as I receive the sad news that the Principality of Liechtenstein has Separated Church from State. The one remaining nation in the world that still acknowledges Catholicism as the religion of the state is now the Principality of Monaco. In addition, the Principality of Andorra explicitly guarantees in its Constitution freedom to the Roman Catholic Church and preserves her "special co-operation with the State". Here are the lyrics that seem to become more and more relevant every day to what is going on. 

Let there be peace on earth,
the peace of Christ Sovereign King.
Let there be peace on earth,
the peace promised by Our Lady.
With God at the center, of our families, our schools, and our governments,
from sea to shining sea.
Let peace begin with me,
with rosary at my side.
Through Mary anything,
with Jesus only hope for mankind.
Raising our prayers with the Holy Father,
in Rome, the Eternal City,
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Feel free to pass this on to music directors in your parishes as another verse to the song many of us know. I only ask that I be informed at my email address. No need to ask permission. But please let me know! And no matter what anyone says, whether they are legislating something in your nation or threatening force, always, ALWAYS confess that Christ is King. Pope Pius XI wrote a beautiful Encyclical entiltled "Quas Primas", I highly recommend reading it as soon as possible as it will point out in clear and concise terms the Catholic position on the matter. The kingdom of Our Lord is not just Heaven. It is right here and right now, but we can't even begin to see it come to fruition if it doesn't begin in our hearts. Have you had your family consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? The Immaculate Heart of His Holy Mother? Ad Jesum per Mariam.

**** DON'T forget to look at the two posts below for incredible book deals before the Feast of the Epiphany! Get your offers in to me before then so that these books can go into good Catholic homes for an incredible price!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New Listings for the Books Sale (And Good News!)

Catholic Squire: After considering the fact that the books are still being made available on this website, I've decided to extend the "make an offer" phase of the book sale to the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th). Don't forget that your purchase of the books, in addition to supporting the efforts of those behind the scenes on this blog, will also go to help priests and seminarians. Please do not leave any comments with offers but rather email the address listed below. Here are further titles for your consideration (in addition to the previous posts books):


This is an Acts of the Apostles in Greek and Latin with Commentary, published in 1647. The book is indeed a bit aged as can be seen from the cover. But the pages are represented well by the title page posted. Further pictures and information available on request. I could only find 3 copies of this in *world* libraries on an internet database search. Make an offer.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Enough Said. Actually, a lot can be said about this book. This is the resource to consult to determine if a book has been forbidden to read or not. The list was abolished by Pope Paul VI. So, shortly after this publication in the ninth year of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, the Index breathed its last. 1948. More pictures and information available upon request. Make an offer.

The Impending Crisis of the South. 1857. First Edition. A book sale on The Catholic Knight is NOT complete without offering a book on US History. The book is in very good condition as can be seen. More pictures and information available upon request. Make an offer.

The Works of Charles Dickens Vol. 1 Illustrated. 10 timeless stories and 40 illustrations. From what I can gather on the internet, this is one of the better copies around. More pictures and information available upon request. Make an offer.

This last book offering for the day I hesitated to include and indeed did not yesterday, but have decided to do so, again, with the support of the Church in mind. It is an 1862 Mission Book. These are found all over the internet selling for between 30-100 dollars for the 1928 and 1947 editions. The story behind this book is incredibly fascinating. The Redemptorists would hand these out at the two Redemptorist parishes in Baltimore after their parish missions at the German Churches. The parishes, being German  had the books of course available in German for the faithful. Well, there were a few copies printed in English (1862) without permission from the Superiors. The brother was ordered to cease and was later kicked out of the Order for going to Rome to obtain permission to print (he also did this without permission). This, according to research I've done and in consultation with the Redemptorist Archivists, is the only surviving copy of the earliest English version. The copy in the Redemptorist archives from 1862 is in German and in bad condition. This book is nearly pristine and retains all of the gold leaf. It is an absolute treasure. This one cannot be parted with as easily as the others, but I wanted to post it with the hopes that someone might come forward looking to own this piece of history. Make an offer. Just like with the other treasures listed, don't hesitate, worst case, I send you to the best books I can do for the price you offer.

God love you all.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas

Catholic Squire: Christmas is around the corner and the Catholic Knight and I would like to make it a very special one for you or those close to you in this Year of Faith. We will be posting pictures over the next few days of books for sale in our collection. We are offering very generous discounts from the values of the books between now and Christmas Eve at midnight. For that reason, no prices will be listed until after Christmas. Make an offer and we will work with you! We want to make this Christmas season one where Catholic home libraries can be built up or started. All orders made through this offering of mine will see a percentage donated towards a priests vestments/sanctuary needs or at times to benefit a seminarian. Everyone wins if you make an offer on these books! Some of the pictures are blurry. Apologies.


We'll start with a Moral Theology Manual published in 1768 by Lugduni. It is titled "Insititutiones Theologiae Moralis". It is entirely in Latin. The title page has a few stains, as can be seen, but is still totally readable. The rest of the book is in even better shape. Not bad for 1768! More pictures or information available upon request. Make an offer.  

Next we are offering an 1866 "St. Bonaventures Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ: To which are added the devotion of the Three Hours Agony of Our Lord on the Cross and the Glorious Life of St. Joseph. This book is in English. I cannot find an earlier edition of this available online. The earliest I could find is from 1868. Everything is completely readable. The title page is representative of the condition of the rest of the book. More pictures or information available upon request. Make an offer. Year of Faith pick (Catholic Squire).

Next we have "Catholic Dictionary and Cyclopedia (1906) This book contains a Brief Explanation of the Doctrines. Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies and Councils of the Holy Catholic Church. The pages are completely readable and the cover is representative of the condition of the rest of the book. This book is in excellent condition. More pictures or information available on request. Make an offer. Year of Faith pick (Catholic Squire).

This next book is absolutely beautiful in its content. Don't let the aged cover fool you! It is "The Defenders of 
Our Faith" by John Gilmary Shea (1893). Year of Faith pick (Catholic Squire). The cover page with the coat of arms is 

representative of the condition of the rest of the book (it is blurry, but the condition shows)

Next we have a family Bible with NO genealogy listed in the section available for that. This Bible is FILLED with tons of additional content and beautiful color pictures run throughout it. It was printed during the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII. More pictures and information available on request. It has come unbound but I still have the cover as seen in the pictures that were taken when the Bible was already unbound. The pages themselves are nearly all still beautifully preserved. Even with the cost of rebinding in mind (for those who choose to go that route), we are making this Bible available for a very reasonable price. This is a real gem. I've seen the exact same Bible online (also unbound) for $645. DON'T let that deter you! It's Christmas: Make an offer.

This is a good start for now. Plenty more books from the 16th-20th centuries to come tomorrow. I cannot promise that we can meet any and all first offers. But we will do our best to provide well for the readers of this blog. So again, make an offer. The worst that can happen is we offer a few titles more in the range you are indicating towards. But I cannot stress enough that you should not let a books value deter you from making an offer. It is Christmas. 

God love you all.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is Christmas Pagan?

A Jewish Star of David Tops This Christmas Tree
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: About this time every year we hear the usual misnomer that Christmas is a Pagan celebration whitewashed by the medieval Catholic Church. We hear this from all corners. Secularists just accept it as fact. Catholics, rather embarrassingly, often try to gloss over it. While Protestant Fundamentalists frequently rail against it, usually calling for either a boycott of the holiday, or else a return to the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. (For some ridiculous reason, some Fundamentalists subscribe to the notion that if a certain date happened to be used by Pagans, that automatically makes anything Christians celebrate on that same date a bow to Paganism.) It is so widely accepted that people fail to address the possibility that the scholarship behind this common assumption might be flawed -- seriously flawed.

I submit to you that everything you've heard about the supposed "Pagan origin" of Christmas is false.  It is much hyperventilation over nothing really. Not only is it false, but it is based on such poor scholarship that it ought to be embarrassing to anyone who embraces it.  Sadly, it would seem the whole modern world has embraced this error, a serious error, which ought to give us some pause.

It's time to learn some real history....

The idea that the celebration of Christmas originated from Pagan origin comes from two 18th century scholars. The first was a German Protestant named Paul Ernst Jablonski. He was the one who first put forward the notion that the celebration of December 25th was one of the many Pagan influences of the Church of Rome (Catholicism) on Christianity. The second was a Catholic Benedictine monk named Dom Jean Hardouin who, in response to Jablonski, tried to show that while the Church may have adopted a pagan celebration of December 25th, it did so without compromising the integrity of the gospel. Both men were wrong. Jablonski erred in his theory that the Pagan December 25 pre-dated Christian celebrations, and Hardouin erred in assuming Jablonski's date assumption was correct in the first place. From these two catastrophic errors, the whole modern world has come to believe that Christmas was originally a Pagan celebration co-opted by the medieval Church.

The controversy surrounds an event that happened in the late 3rd century (AD 274) when the Pagan Roman Caesar Aurelian decreed that December 25th would mark the celebration of the 'Feast of the Unconquered Sun' god (or 'Sol Invictus'), noting the rise of the sun's ecliptic after the winter solstice (December 21 - 23).  Now, the sun worshiping cult can be traced in Rome back to about AD 158.  However, the marking of the summer and winter solstices had no significant relevance to this Roman cult at that time. Instead, the dates of August 9th and August 28th held more relevance, depending on what clan of the cult one followed. The marking of equinoxes and solstices had little relevance to early Roman sun worship. That was a job for astrologers who operated from a completely different religious perspective that had nothing to do with sun worship. So according to the ancient records anyway, Roman sun worshipers had no particular interest in December 25th, or the winter solstice for that matter, before AD 274.

In contrast however, the date of December 25th did hold some religious significance to Jewish converts to Christianity during antiquity. While it is true that we are currently unable to find evidence of Roman Christians celebrating December 25th as the date of the Lord's nativity until AD 336, there is some evidence that Jewish Christians in Rome held that date in high significance as far back as the early 2nd century (AD 100's), and there were some minor celebrations going on for a different reason.

Let's begin with the ancient Christian community in Rome, which had a fairly sizable Jewish convert population for some time. These Jewish converts to the Christian faith were accustomed to celebrating the Jewish Feast of Dedication (or Hanukkah), which early Gentile Christians certainly would not have had any problem celebrating with them, since the Scriptures record that Jesus himself kept this feast (John 10:22-23). However, in the years following the forced separation of Christianity from Judaism and the fall of the Second Temple (AD 70), Jewish Christians would have found themselves increasingly isolated and alienated from the larger Jewish community, and many of these Jewish Christians were "put out of the synagogues" anyway. Jews used a complicated lunar calendar in which the months never coincided with the civil calendar commonly used in the Roman Empire during that time. So Jewish Christians living outside of the Holy Land, would have found themselves alienated from all Jewish times and seasons once they were "put out of the synagogues" (Jewish excommunication). Thus early Jewish Christians found themselves completely immersed in a civil culture that had no connection to the Jewish calendar whatsoever, and any attempt to calculate the times and seasons among themselves would have resulted in endless debates and disputes between them. So they did what any Jew would do in a similar situation. They assimilated into the prevailing culture, but kept their distinctively Jewish identity and customs. Because they were believers in Jesus Christ however, they did so in a Christian context.

Jews always marked the 25th day of the winter month of Kislev as the start of the eight-day Feast of Hanukkah. Because they no longer had access to the Jewish lunar calendar, having been "put out of the synagogue," they simply observed the 25th day of the month that most closely aligned with the winter month of Kislev. That month on the Roman (Julian) calendar is December.  So for Christians of Jewish ancestry in ancient Rome, December 25th became of significant importance as the beginning of the Festival of Dedication, in which Jews remember the light that came into the Second Temple after the Maccabean Revolution in BC 167 - 160.  From a Jewish Christian perspective, this would have taken on even more significance, marking the coming of The Light of God (Jesus Christ) into the Temple as well (John 10:22-23).  However, the Jewish Christians were about to get a surprise from the Gentile Christians that would make their celebration even more significant.

The early Church was preoccupied with debates and disputes over the proper time to celebrate not the birth, but the death and resurrection, of Jesus Christ.  Again, the problem goes back to the Jewish calendar.  Christianity had been forcibly ejected from Judaism.  This is not because Christians rejected Jews.  Quite the opposite really.  It was the Jewish leaders who rejected Christians, telling them that by following Jesus of Nazareth they had apostatized themselves from Judaism.  The acceptance of uncircumcised Gentiles into the Christian communities just exacerbated the situation.  Essentially, the early Christians were rejected by the larger Jewish population and told they no longer had any connection to the Jewish faith and religion whatsoever.  They were all "put out of the synagogue" so to speak, many of which having never been granted admission in the first place, in what amounted to a full scale mass excommunication from Judaism and all things Jewish.  It was this ejection from Judaism that led to the Roman persecution of Christians in the first place.  So long as Christianity was considered a Jewish sect, Christians were under an accommodation made between the Jewish leaders and the Roman Empire, that exempted them from having to participate in emperor worship.  (Jewish leaders had for centuries agreed to make sacrifices to the Jewish God Yahweh on behalf of Caesar, and pray for Yahweh to bless his rule, rather than actually worship Caesar as everyone else was required to.  Because such action guaranteed Jewish allegiance to Rome, there was no need to force the emperor worship cult on the Jews.)  However, as Christians were ejected from all things Jewish, the Pharisees made arguments before Roman authorities that Christians could no longer enjoy the exemptions afforded to Jews.  Thus, when Rome finally agreed that Christians were no longer Jewish (AD 67), the Christians were then required to worship Caesar.   When they refused, they were tortured and put to death in the circuses of Rome.  This Roman persecution of Christians continued from the late 1st century, until the Edict of Milan in AD 312. 

In addition to this ongoing Roman persecution, ancient Christians were confronted with a problem created by no longer having access to the Jewish calendar.  The date of the Passover could no longer be accurately projected, thus the dates marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ could not longer be accurately projected either.   No longer having reliable access to the Jewish calendar, ancient Christians set out to create their own method of calculating the time of the Passover, and thus projecting the dates of Good Friday and Easter (Pasch) Sunday.  Naturally there was a significant amount of dispute over this, especially between the Eastern and Western Christians, but in the 2nd to 3rd centuries (AD 100 through 300), there was a consensus among Roman Christians that March 25th marked the actual date of Christ's crucifixion according to the Roman (Julian) calendar.  Later research would reveal this to be impossible, but for those early days of the Church, that was the consensus among Christians living in and around Rome. 

There is another dimension we must add to this here.  It is called the 'integral age.'  Here we have yet another example of ancient Jewish influence on early Christianity.  While such a belief is found nowhere in the Scriptures, it was widely held by ancient Jews that great prophets died on the same date as either their birth or conception.  So according to this extra-biblical JEWISH TRADITION, which was accepted by early Christians (though it was never required as an article of faith), Jesus being the greatest of all Jewish prophets, must have died on the same date on which he was originally conceived in the womb of his mother -- Mary.  So March 25th came to be assigned not only as Good Friday (which rarely fell on a Friday actually) but also the date of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced the coming of Christ to the Virgin Mary, wherein she accepted her destiny and conceived Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  March 25th is to this day marked as the Feast of the Annunciation in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.  Even though this date was determined by flawed calendar calculations coupled with extra-biblical Jewish traditions, it should be taken as the historical reason for the selection of this date as the Feast of the Annunciation.   It should not be taken as the literal date in which it actually happened.   There is no way we can know the actual literal date of Christ's conception.  Every theory out there is just speculation.  Still, the early Christians in and around Rome were satisfied with this date, and there is evidence that many Christians accepted it as both the Annunciation and Good Friday throughout various regions of the Roman Empire.

Okay, so now we have the date of Christ's conception and death, which was accepted by many early Christians from the 2nd to 3rd centuries.  The actual date of Christ's death would be recalculated in later centuries much more accurately, but March 25th would remain as the accepted date of Christ's conception in later centuries, as by that time the Jewish tradition of the "integral age" had fallen into obscurity.  To this day, March 25th remains the commonly accepted date of Christ's conception, if for no other reason than tradition's sake, and that is why we celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th.  Just count exactly nine months from the traditional date observed as Christ's conception (March 25th) and you land on the 25th day of December, which from the fourth century (AD 300s) onward was marked as the traditional date observed as Christ's birth -- the Feast of the Nativity.  Of course, this worked out quite well for the Jewish Christians, particularly those living in Rome, because that date happened to coincide exactly (coincidence or providence?) with the beginning of the Jewish Christian observance of Hanukkah they had been celebrating on December 25th for a couple hundred years already.  Now the Jewish Christians living in Rome were not only celebrating the coming of the Light of God (Jesus Christ) into the Second Temple (John 10:22-23) along with remembrance of the light that entered during the Maccabean Revolution, but December 25th now marked the coming of the Light of God into the whole world at his birth!  Naturally, this added significance for this date to Gentile Christians as well, who were keen on celebrating birthdays, and in all likelihood the growing observance of December 25th among Christians in Rome was enough for the Pagan Caesar Aurelian to take notice of it in AD 274.  Thus, seeing how closely this celebration was in proximity to the winter solstice, he tried to trump it with his Pagan Feast of Sol Invictus.  The observance of December 25th was not a Pagan celebration hijacked by Christians as theorised by Jablonski and Hardouin in the 18th century, but rather the other way around.  It was a growing Christian celebration that the Pagan Emperor attempted to hijack instead, in his vain attempt to reunify the crumbling Pagan religions of Rome.  His attempted Feast of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), which marked the close of a winter solstice that Roman sun worshippers never cared about prior to his decree, was a miserable failure.  Basically, it was a flop!  The cult (and the empire) went extinct sometime in the 5th century.  By that time Christianity had spread throughout all the known world, and would soon come to power as Christendom, the prevailing governance of all Europe during the Middle Ages.

So that is how the date for Christmas (December 25th) came about.  The Octave of Christmas, on the Roman Catholic calendar, which spans from December 25th to January 1st, ends with the beginning of the civil new year, and is a tribute to the contribution made by the eight-day festival by early Jewish Christians.   In time the Jewish population of the early Church faded away, and with them the Jewish origins of Christmas fell into obscurity.  Hints and clues of this have remained with us to this day, but they are veiled by a general lack of historical knowledge.  Later, the Christmas festival was expanded to encompass a full twelve days, which came to be called Christmastide or the 'Season of Christmas,' marking the time between the Feast of the Nativity (December 25th) and the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th), commemorating the visit of the wise men (magi) from the East.  In the West, the emphasis for Christmastide has always been on the first day of the twelve-day festival -- the Feast of the Nativity (December 25th).  While in the East, the emphasis has always been on the last day of the twelve-day festival -- the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th).

In the Western world, other traditions and customs developed over the centuries.  Most of them are actually Protestant in origin, but equally enjoyed by Catholics.  The Christmas tree comes from Germany, particularly from the Protestant founder Martin Luther.  Yule logs and mistletoe likely come from northern European folk customs.  Some may perhaps be Pagan in origin, but have since lost their Pagan meaning.  These things have little significance in the modern celebration of Christmas anyway.  Of course the legends of Santa Claus originated with the Catholic Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors and children.  The story of his life has been embellished with legends and myths from all over the world, resulting in the Santa Claus traditions we are familiar with today.  Much of that was commercialised in the United States in the early 20th century.

So in answer to the above question.  No, Christmas is not Pagan.  Far from it really, but it seems that some people are hell bent on finding something Pagan about it, regardless if it is true or historically accurate.  So have a Happy Advent and a Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

How To Retake Christmas for Jesus Christ

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: As we enter this Advent season, we are all familiar with the over commercialisation of Christmas that surrounds us this time of year.  Every year we hear the slogans "Keep Christ in Christmas."  All of this is well intentioned of course, and most certainly admirable.  However, I submit to you there is a very easy way for Christians, particularly Catholic Christians, to totally and completely retake Christmas for Jesus Christ, blowing away most excessive commercialisation, in one mighty swoop, that will have an immediate effect on your own family, and a long-term effect on your relatives and neighbours.

How do we do it?  It's simple really.  All you need to do is resolve with your family to do like the Church, and celebrate the full twelve-days of Christmas!

Yes, it really is that simple.  How do I know?  Because I did it with my family, and it had an immediate positive effect.  Not only that, but when my friends and family learned of us, they were curious, and commented how neat that was and they might try to do the same.  You see while we have all been decrying the over commercialisation of Christmas for decades, the solution to the problem has been right under our noses all along, and it just involves going back to our traditional Christians roots -- that's all!

You see, Christmas has always been a twelve-day festival.  It is not just a 'day' but a season, marked by the beginning on December 25th with the Feast of the Nativity.  This is the date we use to mark the birth of Christ.  It ends twelve days later on January 6th with the Feast of the Epiphany.  So just as Easter is a three day event, as Triduum, consisting of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, so Christmas is a twelve day event, beginning with Nativity and ending with Epiphany.  In the Western Church, the emphasis of this twelve-day feast has always been the Nativity, while in the Eastern Church the emphasis has always been the Epiphany.  Granted, in our Western culture, the big hurrah will always be on December 25th -- the Nativity -- but that doesn't mean the celebration should stop there.  A century ago, the celebration of the twelve days of Christmas was still commonplace, and it could be once again.  We are all familiar with the song entitled the 'Twelve Days of Christmas.'  What we may not be familiar with is the fact this this song was first published in AD 1780 and is most likely French Catholic in origin.  It is also a musing on the typical celebration of the Christmas festival that was commonplace during that time.  Today however, many people aren't even sure what these 'twelve days' are, and while I was a Protestant, I remember listening to some Protestant pastors theorise that the whole 'twelve days' is most likely a myth, as they could find no textual evidence of a twelve-day celebration leading up to Christmas.  It's a sad commentary on just how far our society has fallen away from its Christian roots.  These pastors I overheard years ago, made the common mistake of thinking December 25th was supposed to be the finale to the 'twelve days,' when in fact, it has historically been just the starting point.  Perhaps if these pastors had just reversed their thinking a little, and started counting the days after Christmas instead, they might have had an Epiphany.

Have you ever wondered why traditional manger scenes almost always incorporate the visit of the three wise men (magi)?  If you look at the Biblical reference to this event, you will clearly see it had to have taken place months to years after Jesus was born, for it plainly says the Holy Family was living in a 'house' at the time, and refers to Jesus as a 'young child' not an infant....
'And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him' -- Matthew 2:11
Based on the following passages concerning the wicked King Herod's dealing with the situation, we can discern that the Christ child was probably between one to two years old at the time of the visit of the wise men....
'Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.' -- Matthew 2:16
So if the event of the Nativity (birth of Jesus) was separated by as much as two years from the event of the Epiphany (visit of the wise men), why on earth do we traditionally depict them together in manger scenes around Christmas time?  Well the answer to that is simple.  Christmas is a twelve day celebration that just begins with Nativity (December 25) and ends with Epiphany (January 6), thus the traditional manger scene (which includes the wise men) attempts to visually capture the meaning of the full twelve-day Christmas celebration from beginning to end.

Christmas is now, and has always been, a twelve-day celebration.  This cultural reality is evident in the liturgical calendar of the Church, but was lost to Western culture at large sometime in the early 20th century.  It began with the commercialisation of Christmas when large retailers decided it would make things easier for them if holiday shoppers would hurry up and get all their Christmas shopping done BEFORE the end of the year.  That way, they could close the fourth quarter with retail sales up, and thus give a rosy report to the company share holders at the beginning of the new year.  This of course would require some cultural behaviour modification, and that of course was accomplished by simply putting a heavy emphasis on the Christmas Eve Santa Claus legends that had already become popular by that time.  Immediately, large retailers began promoting the Santa Claus legends, which of course put an extremely heavy emphasis on the evening before December 25, and that in turn put a lot of pressure on parents to get their holiday shopping done before that date, so as to surprise their children with all the gifts brought by 'Santa Claus' on Christmas morning.  The marketing strategy worked like a charm, and in fact it worked so well, that it actually had the cultural effect of coaxing Western Christians into forgetting the whole twelve-day celebration entirely.  Instead, the emphasis would focus on one single day -- December 25 -- which effectively became a Christmas deadline for gift giving!

So how do we change it all back?  How do we retake Christmas for Jesus Christ?  As I said, it's simple really.  All we have to do is start celebrating the twelve-days of Christmas again.  This can be done in multiple ways, and I leave it to your own family traditions to work out, but in my family, this is what we do.....
  1. We tell all of our family and friends that we are celebrating the full twelve-days of Christmas, sometimes educating them as to what that means as we spread the word.
  2. We keep the Christmas lights and decorations up until at least January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.
  3. We continue playing Christmas music in the house and car during that full time, but we like to use choir and instrumental music instead, rather than the commercial carols that are so overplayed during Advent season.  This provides an acoustic break from commercialisation, with a refocus on Jesus who is the reason for the season.
  4. We stagger the gift-giving and stocking stuffing throughout the twelve days.  Each day the kids don't know what they're going to get.  Are they going to dig into their stocking for a handful of candy, or find a present under the tree?  They won't know until they wake up each morning to check and see.  Granted this does feed into the commercialisation a bit, but we've found it has some positive effects.  First, it eliminates the post Christmas-morning blues, wherein kids are overstimulated by the number of presents they receive and don't know what to do afterwards.  Second, it keeps the magic alive for twelve full days.  Third, it blows up the Santa Claus myth, or at least significantly reduces it, relegating it to a much smaller role.  We taught our kids about the real St. Nicholas anyway, so it really doesn't matter to us.  Fourth, it completely eliminates the December 25 deadline, and turns it into a starting point, wherein if people want to give gifts, they have a full twelve days to do it in, and there is no rush.  My cousin recently contacted me with an apology about his Christmas gift to my kids being late.  I informed him there was no such thing as 'late' in our house, since we celebrate all twelve days, and his gift will be perfectly 'on time' at any point during those twelve days.  He was both relieved and intrigued by our method of celebration.
  5. We go to mass on many of the appointed feast days during this twelve-day celebration.
  6. We spend time reading to the kids about the Biblical Christmas and teaching them about the meaning.  The extra eleven days gives us plenty of time to get this done, and it also affords the children plenty of time to learn and reflect on these things.  
  7. On the last day, the feast of the the Epiphany, we ask our children what they would like to offer to Jesus as their 'treasures.'  Sometimes it's money out of the piggy bank for a tithe offering.  Sometimes it's older toys for charity for needy children.  Either way, the celebration begins with children receiving gifts, bringing focus on the gift of Jesus Christ that comes from God, and ends with them giving gifts to back to Jesus, in one way or another.
  8. Of course we also spend this time visiting with family and friends.
That's it.  That's all it takes really to have an incredible impact on your whole Christmas celebration, and in truth, it's not any more work that what you are already putting into the holiday.  If anything, it reduces stress because now you're spreading out the festivities, instead of trying to cram them all into one day.  Should you forget somebody on the Christmas list.  It's no problem.  Just follow up with them a few days after Christmas, or later the following week.  Just so long as people understand how you celebrate Christmas, observing the full twelve-days, it shouldn't be a problem.  Lastly, we will all get more time to reflect on the reason for the season -- Jesus Christ, who is God made flesh, come to live and dwell among us.