Does Christmas last twelve days?

I told my children that we leave our Christmas decorations up until the Epiphany because we are Catholic and that is what I believe all Christians do. But why? Do all Christians do this? Are we celebrating Christmas in our hearts and homes for twelve days after Christmas? Why? I was born Catholic and follow traditions sometimes without being able to explain why. This needs to change in my quest for me and my family to become closer to Jesus. Thank you for your time and God bless you.

Traditionally, Christmas has been celebrated for twelve days from December 25 through January 5 (Twelfth Night). January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany (the celebration of the manifestation of the Christ child to the pagan magi), marked the customary end of the Christmas season. On the current liturgical calendar, the primary celebration of Christmas is an octave (eight days) starting with December 25 and ending January 1 (currently the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; formerly celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ and as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus). On the liturgical calendar, the Christmas season officially ends with the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord (celebrated this year on January 9, 2005); but, popularly speaking, Epiphany is still often considered a “closer” to Christmas celebrations. To make things even more confusing, Epiphany is a moveable celebration in the United States, transferred to the nearest Sunday. This year it will be celebrated on January 2, 2005. Celebrations of Christmas by other churches and ecclesial communities vary widely.

Family customs such as Christmas decorations are a purely personal expression of Christmas celebrations that the Church does not regulate. Whether you pack away your Christmas lights and ornaments on December 26, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, or on any date in between or later, is up to your personal discretion.

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