top of page

Advent, Christmastide, Christmas, the 12 Days of Christmas, the Epiphany

Advent comes from the Latin word meaning "coming." Jesus is coming, and Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for His arrival. While we typically regard Advent as a joyous season, it is also intended to be a period of preparation, much like Lent. Prayer, penance and fasting are appropriate during this season.

The Purple color associated with Advent is also the color of penance. (1st, 2nd, & 4th weeks)
The Rose color associated with Advent symbolizes joy and happiness. (3rd Sunday, Gaudete Sunday or rejoice Sunday)
The White color associated with Advent symbolizes purity, it is placed in the center of the wreath and is called the Christ candle

Advent is represented with an wreath and the shape is always a circle: The circular shape of the wreath, without beginning or end, symbolizes God’s complete and unending love for us—a love that sent his Son into the world to redeem us from the curse of sin.  It also represents eternal life which becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ.

More Advent wreath symbolism: The Advent Wreath is made with mostly natural materials that traditionally carry their own Christian symbolism. The use of evergreens reminds us of our eternal life with Christ; pointy holly leaves and berries represents the crown of thorns from the Passion of Jesus and his Precious Blood; and pine cones symbolize Christ’s Resurrection.


The 1st Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope with the “Prophet’s Candle” reminding us that Jesus is coming.

The 2nd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith with the “Bethlehem Candle” reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

The 3rd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Joy with the “Shepherd’s Candle” reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus.

The 4th Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace with the “Angel’s Candle” reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

Don't forget to have your Advent wreath Blessed!

The Advent Wreath tradition also involves an Advent wreath blessing.  The wreath is blessed at the beginning of Advent in a special ceremony, so that throughout the whole four weeks you or your family will be drawn into deeper conversion to Christ through its symbolism and meaning.  

Advent wreath Prayers

In addition to the initial blessing of the Advent wreath at the beginning of the season, there are also special Advent prayers to be said around the wreath as a candle is lit each week.  Children in the family can also participate in this wonderful Christian tradition.

Here is one prayer given for the First Sunday of Advent in the same book just mentioned, The Essential Advent and Christmas Handbook:

Parent:  Lord, you are the light of our world.

Children: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Parent: O gracious God of promise, we prepare to worship together as we await the fulfillment of your wondrous plan.
Help us to grow as we hear your Word and live in your love.

Children: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Parent: May the light of your love always shine in our hearts.

Children: Amen.








Christmastide (sometimes known as Old Christmas) lasts 40 days. It begins with the vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, and ends on February 2nd, Candlemas, which is the day on which we celebrate the feast of Jesus’ presentation in the temple.

This little light of mine will shine!


Just as Halloween, many ways we celebrate Christmas today parallel with indigenous customs of times past. Festive traditions such as evergreen trees being brought into the home to celebrate a twelve-day celebration of light and birth called Yule during the winter solstice (symbolizing life amid the darkness and cold of winter), Oden the God of the Norse people riding in the skies at night much like Santa Claus, Saturnalia a month long winter celebration, Juvenilia celebration for the children, Sol Invictus & Mithra the god of the sun who was celebrated during the winter solstice on December 25th..... 










The Feast day of the risen sun or the Feast day of the nativity (which will be the risen son (Easter)) many parallels with dates and traditions but just because there are many similarities with dates and traditions this shouldn't be confused and thought of as the same, that is where the parallels end. Dates and traditions were co-oped to help with converting people to christianity.

Christians knew it would be hard to remove indigenous customs so again they would Consecrate it to Christ or Give it to God.

Evergreen trees would now have apples hanging from the branches to signify the garden of Edan. The apples would eventually become Christmas ornaments. The prickly Holly would represent the crown of thorns worn by Christ.

In the late middle-ages there were two very different Christmases. The way of the old and the religious. Christ's Mass which would soon become Christmas and the celebration of times past but the celebration of old would be too hard to give up. At this time Christmas of old was anything but Christian like and soon became banned because of it outrageous ways!
** In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot

The two Christmases were different in many ways, like:

  • songs for carols vs. wassailing

  • in church & praying vs. debauchery

  • *Vikings believed Mistletoe could resurrect the dead vs. Christians looking for a kiss from a loved one

The Protestant north in America: 1659 Boston, Mass: Christmas was outlawed by Puritans because Christmas had become too opulent and rumpus. Plus Puritans felt that Christmas was too Catholic. If anyone showed Christmas spirit they would be fined 5 shillings! And possibly stonned for being a heretic...a witch...a heretic! So happy Boston is a place of acceptance!

















The Catholic south in America: Captain John Smith of Jamestown, VA wrote that the first new world Christmas was spent with friends and much cheer. 

After the American Revolution all things English fell out of favor so Christmas was a working day for the next 70 years.

By the early 1840s America needed more than just hard work, America missed Christmas, so times changed again bringing with it Old World ways like the Christmas tree.

But American Protestant Churches refused to acknowledge Christmas which lead people to seek it out with the Catholic faith. 

America constantly changing, changed in 1856! President Franklin Pierce put up the first White House Christmas Tree, Christmas was here to stay! 
(There is some debate about the 1st president who placed a Christmas tree at the white house Franklin Pierce or Benjamin Harrison, regardless Christmas was here too stay!)

The Christmas Tree was from Germany, Christmas Cards were from England, and Santa Claus was cultivated in American because of Saint way to the story T'was the Night Before Christmas, written by a minister, soon to become a classic worldwide!












Christmas now is enjoyed by all because it had found its balance which gave Christmas its Wonder! A balance centered on Christ's Birth, church, children, home & family. People needing the religious side as much as they needed the joyous, fun, free spirited side.

So just like with all holiday feasts, spend it with good cheer and rejoice! Something as simple as singing a Christmas carol is shining god's holy light. Illuminate this season and be a witness of god's love and grace. Sing a song, give a smile, show kindness, give unto others and be the example for the reason of the season.

Merry Christmas!

Clement Clarke Moore


Sol Invitus

40 days of Christmas


December 25th – Christmas – Feast of the Nativity

December 26th – Christmas Octave – Feast of St. Stephen

December 27th – Christmas Octave – Feast of the St. John the Evangelist

December 28th – Christmas Octave –  Feast of the Holy Innocents

December 29th – Christmas Octave – Feast of St. Thomas Becket

December 30th – Christmas Octave – Feast of the Holy Family

December 31st – Christmas Octave – Feast of St. Sylvester I, Pope

January 1st – Christmas Octave – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Holy Day of Obligation)

January 2nd – Feast of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

January 3rd – Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

January 4th – Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

January 5th – Feast of St. John Neumann

January 6th – Epiphany (12th Day of Christmas) – Feast of St. Andre Bessette

January 7th – Christmas season – Feast of St. Raymond of Penafort

January 9th – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – end of Christmas season on the new calendar 

February 2nd – Candlemas (Presentation of the Child Jesus) – end of Christmas season on the old calendar

Fun or Religious

The tradition of wassailing came from an ancient custom of visiting orchards that produced cider and singing to the trees in hopes of a good harvest. However, over time it became "caroling" -- a tradition that has become part of Christmas and year-end celebrations. 
18th century carols were sometimes called "luck-visit" carols

But carols in there pure form were kind & fun (a form of hospitality)
But you can hear in some luck-visit carols after the 2-4 verse that the song could turn a little dark
Starts with a blessing -- Payment -- Demands -- Threat
example: We won't go until we get some


Wassail" is an ancient toast meaning "Good health!" and also a mulled cider that was drunk as part of "wassailing" festivities, typically on the Twelfth Night of Christmas. The practice of wassailing is old and exists as a folk tradition in many parts of the United Kingdom, even today.

Here We Come A Wassailing - David Archuleta, Meav, Mark Wills (Above)
Gloucestershire Wassail (Above)
Gabriel's Message (Advent page)
Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant (Advent page)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Christmastide page)
Carol of the Bells Peter Hollens (December 3 page)
Carol of the Bells (December 3 page)
Amy Grant - Winter Wonderland (December 3 page)

Gloria (December 3 page)
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Canon (December 4 page)
Gayla Peevey - The Christmas Hippo Song (December 4 page)
Celtic Woman - O Tannenbaum (December 6 page)
Royal Opera Ballet - The Nutcracker - Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (December 6 page)
Harry Connick, Jr. '(It Must Have Been Ol') Santa Claus' (December 6 page)
Harry Connick, Jr. - Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (December 6 page)
Louis Armstrong cover - Zat You Santa Claus? (December 6 page)
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus (December 6 page)
Jimmy Fallon, Mariah Carey & The Roots: "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (December 6 page)
Santa Baby (December 6 page)
Meghan Trainor - I'll Be Home (December 6 page)

Mariah Carey - Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (December 6 page)
 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (December 7 page)
Céline Dion - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) (December 7 page)
Andy Williams - It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (December 7 page)
Wham! - Last Christmas (December 7 page)
The First Noel (December 8 page)
Mary Did You Know (December 8 page)
Let Us Adore Him (December 9 page)
Harry Connick Jr. - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer  (December 9 page)
Joyful Joyful We Adore him (December 11 page)
Mariah Carey: All I Want For Christmas Is You  (December 11 page)
Silent Night (December 12 page)
O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) (December 12 page)
Michael Buble ft Thalia - Feliz Navidad (Christmas Special) (December 12 page)
Christmas Songs - Santa Lucia Sweden (December 13 page)
It came upon a midnight clear (December 14 page)
"Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow" (December 14 page)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (O Antiphons)
Away in a Manger (British) (December 21 page)
Away in a Manger (American ) (December 21 page)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (December 23 page)
Jingle Bells (December 23 page)
Oh Holy Night ~ Celine Dion (December 24 page)
Andrea Bocelli Gloria in Excelsis Deo (December 24 page)
12 Days of Christmas! (December 25 page)
We Wish You A Merry Christmas (December 25 page)
Joy to the World! (December 25 page)
Tori Kelly Performs Hallelujah! (December 26 page)
Good King Wenceslas (December 27 page)
Ding Dong Merrily on High (December 28 page)
Hallelujah Chorus (December 29 page)
Deck The Halls (December 31 page)
Lou Monte- Domenick the Donkey (December 31 page)
Brenda Lee  - Rockin Around The Christmas Tree (December 31 page)
What Are You Doing New Years Eve? (December 31 page)

​Ave Maria (January 1 page)

​Ave Maria (January 1 page)

​Ave Maria (January 1 page)

​Ave Maria (January 1 page)

​Ave Maria (January 1 page)

​Ave Maria (January 1 page)

​Ave Maria (January 1 page)​
Ave Maria (January 1 page)

Joy to the World! (January 2 page)
Do You Hear What I Hear! (January 2 page)
What Child is this... (January 3 page)
What Child is this... (January 3 page)
Angels We Have Heard on High (January 4 page)
The Little Dummer Boy!  Alex Boye'  (January 4 page)
We Three Kings (January 5 page)
I Saw Three Ships  (January 5 page)
O Little Town Of Bethlehem - Natalie Grant
(January 5 / The Eve of the Epiphany)

Vanessa Williams - Go Tell It On the Mountain  / Mary Had A Baby (January 5 / The Eve of the Epiphany)



Traditional English Wassail – Mulled Cider

  • 6 small apples, cored

  • 6 teaspoons soft brown sugar

  • 1 orange

  • 6 cloves

  • 200g caster sugar

  • 2 litres cider

  • 300mls port

  • 300mls sherry or Madeira

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 lemon, halved


A traditional English Wassail recipe that originates from Suffolk which is a delectable hot, spiced mulled cider with sherry and port and is served with the all important baked apples. A Yorkshire version called "Lamb's Wool" is made with ale instead of cider and is served when the apples have burst, so the pulp looks like lamb's wool in the mulled ale.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

  2. Cut around the middle of each apple with a sharp knife and place them in an oven proof dish. Fill each apple core cavity with a teaspoon of sift brown sugar. Stick the cloves in the orang and place it with the apples in the dish. Add a little water, about 6 tablespoons and roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the apples are soft but still retain their shape.

  3. Leave the apples in the dish to keep warm and take the orange out - cut it in half and place it on a large sauce pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and the juices from the apple roasting dish to the sauce pan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved.

  4. Bring the mixture to the boil and then turn it down immediately and keep it warm until you need to serve it.

  5. When you are ready to serve the wassail, ladle the fruit and spiced into a large punch bowl and then pour the wassail into the bowl. Add the apples by floating them on top and serve straight away in warmed mugs or cups.

  6. The apples can be eaten afterwards as a delectable dessert with cream or custard.

bottom of page