Christmastide (also Christmas or the Christmas season) is one of the seasons of the liturgical year of most Christian churches. It tends to be defined (with slight variations) as the period from Christmas Eve to Epiphany. This period is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, as referred to in the Christmas carol of the same name, or Yuletide, as in "Deck the Halls".
Many Protestant churches add an Epiphany season after the Christmas season, extending the celebration of Christmas for forty days until the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas) on 2 February (or a nearby Sunday). In the Missal and Breviary of the Roman rite, since 1970, the Christmas season runs a shorter period, from Christmas Eve to the Baptism of the Lord, which depending on the place and the year can occur between 7 January and 13 January. In the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the season runs from Vespers on 24 December till Compline on 2 February.
During the season, various festivities are traditionally enjoyed and buildings decorated. In some countries[which?] the superstition has arisen that it is bad luck to leave the decorations up after Twelfth Night.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas is the third most important feast (after Pascah and Pentecost). The day after, the Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Theotokos. This means that Saint Stephen's day and the feast of the Holy Innocents fall one day later than in the West. The coming of the Wise Men is celebrated on the feast itself. For more information, see Nativity Fast and Christmas Eve.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Christmastide.|
- Weeks of Advent
- A Biblical Reflection on the 12 Day Church Season of Christmas at the Bible Resource Center