January 1 is an important day in the Church’s liturgy.
There isa lotthat we commemorate on this day!
What we are celebrating, and why we are celebrating it**now,**can be a little confusing.
Here are nine things you should know . . .
1. What**exactlyare we celebrating on January 1?**
According to the*[.pdf]](“http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Calendar/Info/GNLY.pdf”):
1 January, the octave day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the holy Mother of God, and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus [Norms, 35f].
2. Didn’t this day used to signify something else?
Yes. Pope Benedict explained:
It was Pope Paul VI who moved to 1 January the Feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, which was formerly celebrated on 11 October.
Indeed, even before the liturgical reform that followed the Second Vatican Council, the memorial of the circumcision of Jesus on the eighth day after his birth — as a sign of submission to the law, his official insertion in the Chosen People — used to be celebrated on the first day of the year and the Feast of the Name of Jesus was celebrated the following Sunday*Homily, Jan. 1, 2008].
3. Why would the commemoration of Jesus’ Most Holy Name be moved to January 1?
January 1 is eight days after Christmas, and it was on the eighth day after his birth that Jesus was officially named.
At the time, the official naming of a son was done at the time of his circumcision, when he was officially placed in the covenant and the Chosen People.
Thus St. John the Baptist is given his name at the time of his circumcision (Luke 1:59-63), and so is Jesus:
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb [Luke 2:21].
4. Don’t we celebrate Mary’s motherhood on other days, like the Annunciation and Christmas?