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Continue The Celebration Of Christmas With The Family
By Implementing The 12 Days Of Christmas


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The Christmas celebration does not need to stop on December 25th! Keep up the salvation hype and celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with the family. Enjoy these traditions that we have adopted over the years to help keep the Christmas spirit going well into the New Year.

We have a custom in our home that we do not decorate the tree until Christmas Eve. Until then, the tree contains all the Jesse Tree ornaments as a reminder that we are still waiting for our Messiah. At night after the rosary (we pray the Joyful mysteries on this night), the Infant Jesus is ceremoniously placed in the "sacrifice manger". At this time we sing a Christmas hymn or two - some favorites are "Silent Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful". Once all the children go to bed on December 24th, the teenagers remove the Jesse Tree ornaments and decorate the tree with the bright colors of Christmas. We also pull out all the presents which we have been hiding and place them under the tree.

The main event of Christmas day is Holy Mass. All of today's celebrations center around the Infant Jesus and His holy Nativity. All the children receive an infant Jesus for one of the many nativity scenes throughout the house - nativity scenes which have felt His absence all through Advent.

Celebrate The 12 Days Of Christmas With The Family By Commemorating The Church's First Martyr

St Stephen's Poinsettia

Celebrate Christmas with the family by filling the days following Christmas Day with just as much celebration and excitement. December 26th is St. Stephen Day. On this day we remember the first martyr of the Church.

It is a custom to place the bright blood red Poinsettia plants around the "sacrifice manger" as a reminder that we too need to be willing to shed our blood for the Faith, if the occasion arises. 

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

St John's Wine

In our home on this day, everyone gets a glass of spiced wine. In memory of St. John, Dad prays the blessing then we make the following drink which is non-alcoholic after the boiling. This recipe was borrowed from Drinking With The Saints by Michael P. Foley:

  • 1 quart red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or honey for GAPS followers)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • A pinch of ground cardamom

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and boil for 5 minutes, then serve hot.

Starting with Dad, who turns to the person on his left, he says: "I drink to you for the love of St. John." He and the other then take the first drinks. The blessing is then passed all around the room until everyone has had a turn to toast. 

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 our home, the celebration takes place in honor of the baby. We decorate the baby’s crib and nursery, then ask God to send many graces to the “wee one”.

Welcome In The New Year With Singing, Toasting And Thanksgiving

New year 2023

We celebrate St. Sylvester's Day (December 31st) by visiting Our Lord in the tabernacle and 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. We usually play Risk or Monopoly and maybe watch a long movie, (like Ben-Hur if you missed it on Christmas). Once the hours narrow down to minutes, we all prepare to welcome the New Year by pouring the champagne and counting down.

As the clock strikes midnight, we toast, recite the Te Deum and sing “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” and "Auld Lang Syne". Sometimes we light off fireworks that we saved from the summer but we mostly enjoy the fireworks that the neighboring homes light off.

New Year's Day, January 1, is almost like a second Christmas. Tonight's dinner and decorations are as festive as Christmas. It is a holy day of obligation and holy Mass should be attended. 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 gained by reciting the Veni, Creator Spiritus.

The next few days are opportunities for celebrating Christmas with the family. Carry on with the gift-giving, singing, partying, thanksgiving and merrymaking.











Celebrate The Overlooked Feast Day Of Epiphany
And Commemorate The First Gift-Givers Of Christmas


A Special Visit From The Three Kings

The last effort you should make to keep the Christmas with the family spirit going is by celebrating the visit from the three kings. The feast of the Epiphany is on January 6th and this day marks the twelfth day of Christmas. On this day we celebrate the three kings coming and adoring the Infant King. On the night of January 5th the kids expect the kings to make a visit during the night. In the morning there is a sweet surprise from the three wise men.

It is important to stress that these three men were not simply smart astronomers who saw a sign and knew that something wonderful had happened. They were Gentile kings who were waiting for the coming of One who was greater than themselves. The journey and adoration of the kings is an act of humility of three men adoring a foreign God-King. They are wise because they, unlike Herod, had their virtues in order and possessed true wisdom which only comes from God.

Epiphany House Blessing

Christmas with the family would not be complete without the house blessing by the parish priest. If not available, our dad blesses the house and with blessed chalk writes the inscription 20 + C + M + B + 24 over the door. As he writes over the door he says:

"The three wise men, Caspar (write the letter "C"), Melchior (write the letter "M") and Balthazar (write the letter "B") followed the star of God’s Son Who became man, Two Thousand (20) and twenty-four years ago (24). 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 inscription is rich in symbolism:

  • The letters C, M, and B have two meanings. First they are the initials of Three Kings: 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 Kings.
  • The number of years that have passed since the Magi had made their journey is written on the outsides of the inscription.

Dad then sprinkles the interior of the house with the blessed Epiphany water.

Other Epiphany Customs From Around The World

King's Cake

Other ways to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with the family have come to us from several countries who have contributed to our culture for this feast day. In Spain there is a King's Parade where the three kings travel the streets until they arrive at the parish church where they present their gifts to the Christ child. Another custom which was also implemented in medieval France but was brought to Mexico by the Spanish is King's Cake. (If you live in California, Costco sells these cakes in a box.) Here is a that we adapted for those on the GAPS diet. The one who finds the Baby Jesus in his slice of cake usually in entrusted with the job of showing next year's Epiphany party. But wearing the crown and receiving a small gift is an adequate substitute.

Print Recipe

Industrious Family's King Cake:

King's Cake 02

Dough

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons spiced rum
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 King Cake Baby Jesus

Glaze

  • 2 egg yolks, separated
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Honey and rum (optional)
  1. Cream the butter, honey and salt until well blended. Add one cup of flour and the sourdough. Mix well. Add the remaining flour and milk. Gently knead the dough on the counter and roll into a ball. Place ball in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. While the dough chills, make the filling. You can mix this in a bowl by hand or you can place the ingredients in a food processor. Cream butter and honey. Add the egg, rum and almond extract. Add the almond flour. Mix together well.
  3. Remove the dough from fridge and divide into two balls. Roll these out to be about 1/4 in. thick.Form the first sheet of dough in the bottom of a cake pan. Fill the cake with the almond filling. Place the baby Jesus in the filling toward one of the edges. Place the second sheet of dough over the top and turn in the edges. Return cake to the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then flip the cake out of the pan onto a piece of parchment paper.
  4. SPRING FORM PAN ASSEMBLY: If you have a spring form pan avalable you can spread the filling in the pan and place in the freezer. Once frozen, place the filling on top of the first sheet of dough and place the second sheet over the top. Turn in the edges.
  5. Prepare the egg wash by separating 1 egg yolk. Using a basting brush, paint the yolk over the top and edges of the cake. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove cake from fridge and poke a few breathing holes on the top. About 6 holes. Using a paring knife or carving tool, gently design a cross or star on the top of the cake. Once the entire top is decorated to your liking, return the cake to the refrigerator overnight.Preheat the oven to 375*F. Bast the top of the cake again with the remaining egg yolk and heavy cream. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  7. Place a sheet of parchment paper and another baking sheet over the top of the cake and return to the oven for 25 minutes.Prepare final basting bath by adding honey and rum to the remaining egg mixture. Bast the cake a final time and return to the oven at 300*F until the top is all golden brown.

Print Recipe

Another Special Epiphany Blessing Not For The Faint Of Heart

Here is another Epiphany tradition that you can do if you are daring. In Poland, the parish priest blesses a wooden cross then throws it into the freezing river. All the men jump into the water and whoever retrieves it then receives a special blessing for himself and his family. Wrap up the 12 days of Christmas with the family by challenging the daring youths to retrieve a cross from a nearby brook or stream. Personally, this sounds like quite a chilly experience.

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