Why is Christmas celebrated more than the Annunciation?


We believe that Christ entered the world after the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary what was to take place. In fact (as you all know):

Luke1:35 And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.


So when Jesus was born, he had already been human for around 9 months earlier, therefore he was already incarnated then.

I myself celebrate Christmas “more” than the Annunciation, in fact I wasnt even sure that I attended Mass on that day (unless it was on a Sunday, which it was this year).

If I remember correctly, I once heard someone say on tv that Christmas was a time when we celebrate the start of our salvation. But isnt it more accurately said that our salvation started either at the conception of Jesus or the start of the Passion, not the birth of Jesus?


We celebrate the Feast of the Nativity because that is when the Incarnation was made known to the world.


I wondered the same thing myself.

Some prayers also say “this season where we celebrate the Incarnation”, but didn’t the incarnation happen at the Annunciation?

I read somewhere that Epiphany used to be the bigger celebration of God reveling himself to the world.

I am looking forward to folks comments.

God bless,


Are you talking about when future generations look back in hindsight ie. the time when the Saviour was born. Otherwise, how was Christ manifest to the “world”. A few shepherds were in attendance as well as St. Joseph of course. Who else knew about the Incarnation besides maybe Mary’s parents and relatives like Elizabeth? We dont know for sure, but only Herod and possibly a select few of the Herodians or employees (is there a better word?) of Herod would have known after the Magi visited Herod.


Yes, I am talking about the angels’ announcement to the shepherds and the appearance of his star in the sky which alerted the Magi.

Christ was made manifest to the world, the world did not recognize him.


Very interesting question that might be better answered in the “Ask an Apologist” section.

I’ve wondered this a few times myself.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Feast of the Annunciation probably originated around 430-445 AD. On older calendars, it is actually listed as “Festum Incarnationis” (Feast of the Incarnation). Some earlier texts, such as the pseudo-Cyprianic work De Pascha Computus from 240 AD, also express the opinion that the Incarnation happened at the same time as the Annunciation.

So how did popular opinion change? It may have been during the Middle Ages. Total postulation, but here goes: According to Medieval philosophy, life didn’t begin until the “quickening,” i.e., when the mother felt the baby move within her, which is typically at around 4-5 months gestation. Therefore, the Incarnation might have been better consigned to time of the quickening in Mary’s pregnancy. So the Annunciation would’ve been reinterpreted as only a message unto the eventual quickening 5 months later. Since there is no feast at the 5-month mark, the Incarnation is no longer honored in its own right as it once was, and the concept latches on to the next related feast – of the Nativity. Thus, Christmas becomes the “manifestation” of the Incarnation, which of course then becomes shared with the world at the Epiphany.

Just my postulation about how the disconnect between the Annunciation and the Incarnation may have happened. But in light of our modern understanding of life beginning from conception, we should return to the original understanding of the early Christians and emphasize that the Incarnation happened at the time, or just after, the Annunciation.


St John the Baptist “leapt in the womb” for joy when Mary and Jesus visited Elizabeth. John must have been six months old (in the womb). And if he wasnt alive then when we leapt for joy, he never was!!


Right! :slight_smile:


There was a period around the 17th century when March 25 was celebrated as New Years Day. It’s a bit confusing when you do genealogy - March 24 1690 is followed by March 25 1691 etc.


The birth of Jesus was the revelation of the Incarnation.


Actually, the Annunciation was a big feast also. Liturgically, it is a Solemnity (although not an Octave) but we recognize its solemnity by genuflecting at “By the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man” just as we do at Christmas.

I guess general human culture tends to celebrate births rather than conceptions, and is not due to any theological reason either way.


So was the Annunciation I wouldve thought.


Well, to be technical about it, we don’t actually know when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she became pregnant with Jesus. The Annunciation just states that this would happen. It doesn’t say when. But we do know that the Incarnate God was born into this world and we celebrate that miraculous birth. As to the actual conception of Jesus, we just assume it happened at the time of the Annunciation, but the Scriptures don’t actually say that.


look at the readings during Advent and for Christmas, esp. the vigil, we do celebreate the Annunciation at this time of year–Dec. 8, when we honor the Immaculate Conception, the reading is actually for the annunciation, when the reason for Mary’s being honored and protected in this way is revealed to her. The readings immediately leading up to Christmas include the entire “backstory” from Luke’s gospel, becaues the Nativity is not one isolated event on one night, it is the entire event, the culmination of the prophecies leading to the events from Mary’s conception, childhood, conception and birth of John, the last prophet, annunciation, trip to Bethlehem, birth, Epiphany to the world through the Magi, slaughter of the innocents, presentation, and childhood of Christ, all commemorated by Church feasts, in the readings, and other devotions such as the rosary.

as to the specific OP question, why don’t we make a bigger deal of the Annunciation? well, why don’t we do as the Church does? that is more a personal question, the Church has it well in place, it is up to us to be more aware of it. How many people come to church on Christmas, but skip the Holy Day of Dec. 8, and even miss Mass in Advent?


Actually, we dont know the time of Jesus’ birth either do we? The day was instituted by the Church. That doesnt explain why Christmas is celebrated much more than the Annunciation. Good points though, CB.


I think its fair to say that most people would perceive that the Church in general treats Christmas as a more celebratory day. There are more Masses for this Holy Day of Obligation, and the Church has instituted the season of Advent to prepare for Christmas.The Annunciation isnt a Holy Day of obligation, at least in Australia.


We are told that Mary immediately set out to visit Elizabeth. When she arrived at Elizabeth’s a few days later she was already carrying Jesus.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.