Christmas Family Fun To Last From Christmas Eve To The Feast Of The Epiphany

Several days of Christmas family fun start on Christmas Eve and continue through Epiphany. In our family, we observe these feast days with cherished traditions. Because we focus on Advent before Christmas, these activities keep our Christmas spirit up as the commercialism of Christmas has died out.

These activities take a little planning so start preparing during Advent. Besides these Christmas crafts, you'll need:

  • Poinsettia plants
  • a Crib with straw (either paper or real)
  • a Baby doll to serve as the baby Jesus
  • a Bottle of wine blessed by your parish priest
  • Lyrics to "Holy God We Praise Thy Name"
  • Decorations and gifts for a baby (child under 2)
  • Request a house blessing for Epiphany

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Get ready for Christmas family fun that lasts the twelve days of Christmas. Start with...

1. Christmas Eve

Christmas Family Fun

Reserve some or all decorating for Christmas Eve. This emphasizes the distinction between Advent and Christmas. Ceremoniously present the Infant Jesus to your family’s shrine that night on a pillow of “sacrifice” straw that was gathered throughout Advent.

Any traditional Christmas hymn is appropriate. Some favorites are "Silent Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful". Pray the family Rosary or at least the 3rd Joyful Mystery, the nativity.

2. Christmas Day

christmas day

The main event of this day is Holy Mass. Center all of today’s celebration around the Infant Jesus and His holy Nativity. Other secular traditions are okay to include as long as the focus is on the Birth of Our Lord.

Read the nativity account in the Gospels or in a well put together book. Use nativity scenes like Fontanini to allow the children to get a hands on experience.

3. St. Stephen's Day

St. Stephen's Day

St. Stephen was the first martyr of the Church. His sacrifice is remembered in Outlaws of Ravenhurst when Sir Anges says that he is honored to be "found worthy to join the red-robed army led by Stephen."

Read his story aloud then place red poinsettias round the crib on your family altar to represent his martyrdom. Adding to your family altar in this way really emphasizing the religious aspect of Christmas. It serves as a visual symbol that something wonderful happened at Christmas.

4. St. John's Day

st johns day

St. John’s Day is December 27. The feast of the beloved apostle St. John is celebrated with wine. According to legend, St. John was served wine that had been poisoned. After blessing it and drinking it, he was unharmed.

This day wine can be blessed and had for dinner. Plan ahead and ask your priest to bless a bottle of wine for this occasion during Advent or Christmas.

5. Feast of the Holy Innocents

holy innocents

The Holy Innocents is on December 28: This day we remember the hatred Herod had for Our Lord and all the innocent babies that he ordered to be killed.

In the home, the celebration takes place in honor of the baby. Decorate the baby’s crib and nursery, then ask God to send many graces to the “wee one”. If there is no baby in your home, present gifts to a friend, neighbor or family member's child  who is under two years old.

6. St. Sylvester Day

New Year's Eve

On the day of New Year’s Eve, we celebrate St. Sylvester's Day by visiting Our Lord in the tabernacle thanking Him especially for all the graces bestowed upon our family throughout the year.

It is customary to stay up until midnight to bring in the New Year. On New Year's Eve day, try to visit a church and thank God for the graces throughout the year past.

Plan evening activities that will run late into the night. A late dinner, dessert and snacks; board games or card games. At midnight:

  • Toast to the New Year with champagne,
  • Light off fireworks
  • Recite the Te Deum and
  • Sing “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” and "Auld Lang Syne".

A plenary indulgence may be gained by reciting the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the past year.

Bring in the New Year by singing “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” and "Auld Lang Syne". Have champagne ready, let off fireworks, and don't forget to make a New Year's resolution. Consider a virtue you will work on developing during the new year.

It is also customary to make a New Year's resolution. Consider a virtue you will work on developing during the new year. Review this Advent checklist if you need help thinking of a resolution.

7. New Year's Day

new years day

New Year Day's, January 1, should be like a second Christmas. It is a holy day of obligation and holy Mass should be attended.

The food and decorations should be as festive as Christmas. You may even want to keep a few Christmas presents unopened to open this day. In this way there are still more thrills as the gifts are opened.

The Church celebrates the Circumcision of Our Lord this day as well as the feast of Mary, Mother of God. The celebrations from the evening before should carry on into this day. Meditations on the meaning of the title: Mother of God and the event of Our Lord's circumcision (the first time Our Lord shed His blood for us) should be included in the family Rosary.

A plenary indulgence can be acquired by reciting the Veni, Creator Spiritus.

8. Epiphany

epiphany

The Epiphany on January 6th is the twelfth day of Christmas and we celebrate the three wise men coming and adoring the Infant King.

On the 5th of January the kids expect the Magi to make a visit during the night. In the morning there is a sweet surprise from the three wise men. It is also a custom to have the house blessed by the parish priest if he is available. Our priest comes with blessed chalk and incense.

Priests bless water and chalk on the evening before Epiphany which is used to bless homes in the days following Epiphany. The chalk is used to mark  20 + C + M + B + 16  over the exterior doorways in the home so that all who come and go will receive God’s blessing. The father of the family writes the inscription which serves as a witness to the Faith and a protection against evil.

The inscription is rich in symbolism:

  • The letters C, M, and B have to meanings. First they are the initials of Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. 
  • Secondly they are an abbreviation for the Latin phrase: Christus mansionem benedicat. “May Christ bless the house.
  • The crosses represent the protection of the Precious Blood of Christ and the holiness of the Three Magi.
  • The number of years that have passed since the Magi had made their journey is written on the outsides of the inscription.

It is always exciting to have the priest come to the house. It is good to remind the children that while the priest is blessing the home, they should pray quietly, and that they can talk to the priest before and after the blessing.

If no priest is available to bless your home:

Read the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel, followed by the Our Father, and the Collect of the Epiphany; then write the inscription for this year above your front door with blessed chalk.

The lintel of the main door of the house is marked by a the father.

While praying the following prayer:

The Three Wise Men, Caspar C (write the letter), Melchior M and Balthazar B followed the star of God’s Son Who became man, Two Thousand 20 and Sixteen years ago 16. May Christ bless our home ++ (inscribe the first two crosses), and remain with us through the new year ++ (then the last two crosses)."

Almighty God, incline your ear. Bless us and all who are gathered here. Send your holy angel who will defend us and fill with grace all who dwell here. Amen."

The father then sprinkles the interior of the home with the blessed Epiphany Water.

Christmas Family Fun

Observing these holidays with a focus on Christmas family fun will create cherished memories for your children. They won't remember the presents they received as a child but these traditions will stay with them the rest of their lives.

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