Finished: Dec. 20, 2011
First Published: Oct. 1, 2011
Publisher: St. Anthony Messenger Press
Genre: non-fiction, Catholic, religion, Christmas
We all know the story of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.
Acquired: This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on A Catholic Christmas. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.
Reason for Reading: Before my conversion to Catholicism, Christmas had lost most of its meaning for me. It was a day for the 'kids'. Otherwise I was sick and tired and just plain fed up with the commercialism, materialism and Santa Clause-ness of the holiday. And "day" was the optimum word here. Since my conversion, I've learned Christmas isn't a "day"; it is a season and I've discovered the true reason for the season. I especially love Advent out of all the Church holidays. I thought this book would be interesting to learn a little more about all the special feast days that are a part of the Christmas season.
This is a little book and I mean both in number of pages and in physical size; it's about the size of a spread man's hand. But regardless, it manages to pack a lot of information within its covers. While not only informational, the author has a pleasant writing voice and is enjoyable to read. Almost like listening to a knowledgeable friend. The book starts off with the Roman roots of Christmas, the mostly political reason the Church chose December 25th and why that's OK. Then it goes on to explain the Liturgical Year. This chapter is wonderful for anyone who doesn't really understand the Church calendar as it explains it all very simply and nicely, yet in detail.
After these beginning chapters starts what we have been expecting, a detailed look at the entire Christmas season. Christmas is not a one day holiday for Catholics. It starts with Advent which lasts for the four weeks of Sundays prior to Christmas day and ends with Epiphany (this is when we take our tree down) which is traditionally, Jan. 6 otherwise known as the 12th day of Christmas. Yes, contrary to popular belief the 12 days of Christmas start (not finish) on Christmas Day. The book then spends one chapter on each Feast or Holy Day during the season, giving an historical background, traditional celebrations, suggestions for celebration today and ends with contemplative questions to help you get into the spirit of the feast. While I already knew the basic information, some of the historical and much of the traditional information was new and educational for me. We already celebrate Advent weekly with a wreath, hymns and special family time but I will most certainly be putting the information to use next year to make more of the Feast days than just acknowledging them. The book then ends with the following Sunday which celebrates the feast of the Baptism of the Lord which is a more spiritual way to celebrate new beginnings rather than the secular world's "New Year's" resolutions. A wonderful little book that proves good things come in small packages. The only complaint I could have would be that it is too short!