Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Feasts and Remembrances in the Octave of Christmas

Follower of Simon Bening, The Angels Announce
the Birth of Jesus to the Shepherds
From a Book of Hours
Flemish,  c. 1500-1525
The Hague, Meermano Museum
MS RMMW 10 E 3, fol. 85v

Some of the major Church feasts bring with them a week of other celebrations.  This is known as an octave, from the Latin word for the number eight.  In times past many more feasts had octaves attached to them.  Most no longer do, while for most that remain the days of the octave are simply labeled "x day in the Octave of y" (for example, third day in the Octave of Easter).  

Christmas is, however, different.  It retains a daily differentiation for its octave, with each day of the octave having its own, very distinctive character.  Thus, we see:

December 26 - Feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr.

December 27 - Feast of Saint John the Evangelist:

      - When Knowledge of Iconography Is Lost (click here)
      - Images of John as Evangelist (click here)
      - The Figure With The Chalice (click here)
      - Martyrdom, Miracles and Death of John the Evangelist (click here)
      - Witnesses to the Crucifixion (click here)
      - The Last Supper (click here)

December 28 - Feast of the Holy Innocents (click here)

December 29 - Feast of Saint Thomas Becket (Currently an optional memorial) (click here)

December 30 - Feast of the Holy Family (In years where there is no Sunday between December 25 and January 1 (i.e., because both the feast days fall on Sundays) the feast is celebrated on December 30.  If there is a Sunday between those dates, the feast is celebrated on the Sunday instead) (click here)

December 31 - Feast of Saint Sylvester, Pope (Currently an optional memorial)

January 1 -- Feast of Mary, Mother of God (click here)

While I have not yet produced an essay on the iconography of Saints Stephen or Sylvester, I have produced essays on the other days.  You can access these essays by clicking the links above as indicated.

Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas Octave!

© M. Duffy, 2023

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