Christmas Resource Guide

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!

Glory to God in the highest! Jesus is Born!

Updated Dec. 20, 2021

"'Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'" (Luke 2:10-14)

Merry Christmas! The word, "Christmas" is derived from the Greek, "Christos," which means "anointed one," and the Latin, "Missa," which means "to send." In other words, the anointed one is sent. This feast commemorates the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. In doing so, God became flesh, making the salvation of the world possible.

The incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh, (the Latin "in carne" means "enfleshment") is the second most important feast of the liturgical year after Easter. Belief in the incarnation is a uniquely Christian teaching — the Divine choosing to become one of us, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which this year will be celebrated Jan. 10. This liturgical season is one of the shortest of the Church year, but it is full of celebrations and feast days, including an eight-day celebration of the Lord’s Nativity, known as the Christmas Octave. Other highlights include: the feast of the Holy Innocents; Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph; Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of GodMost Holy Name of Jesus; and the Epiphany of the Lord.

These saints are also remembered during the Christmas season: St. Stephen, the first martyr; St. John, apostle and evangelist; St. Thomas BecketSts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzenbishops and doctors of the Church; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious; St. John Neumann; and St. Andre Bessette.

Christmas Resources

To help you celebrate this season of joy and hope for salvation, the USCCB offers several Christmas resources, including a Christmas calendar in English and Spanish, blessings for the nativity scene, Christmas tree, the home on Epiphany, list of recommended Christmas movies or pray through Lectio Divina for the Christmas Season. The Diocese of Des Moines offers great suggestions on living the Christmas season and making room for Jesus in your family's traditions.

Simply Catholic explores how Christmas caroling came about, when to take the decorations down, the meaning behind our Christmas traditions, including Christmas trees, food, nativity scenesstar of Bethlehem and more. Or check out Franciscan Media's FAQ, the history of Christmas carols or a reflection on how to experience the true joy of Christmas from Word on Fire. Arkansas Catholic offers recipes for Christmas sweets sure to make your mouth water.