I want to suggest that it would be more consistent of those of us who get concerned for the loss of the sacred when Christmas items come out before Halloween, to be equally concerned about Christmas being celebrated during Advent.
By the end of the 4th century the season of Advent was universally observed throughout the Church. It is currently observed four Sundays before the Feast of the Nativity. In ancient times it was observed much like Lent, as a time of fasting, abstinence and almsgiving. The idea was to prepare oneself to receive Christ at His first and second comings; to prepare an abode made fit for the King.
While today we are not quite so strict in our observance of Advent, we would do well to learn from our spiritual ancestors. Just as many have observed how much more meaningful their Easter becomes after keeping a holy Lent, the same will be true for Christmas. Allow me to offer some suggestions for keeping Advent a penitential season and saving our celebrations for their proper time.
- Put off Christmas decorations and music and offering Christmas parties until at least Gaudette Sunday (the third Sunday in Advent)
- Make or purchase an Advent Calendar and teach your children what this season is about
- Make an appointment to make a sacramental confession
- Fast from meat on Wed and Fridays, which were typical days of fasting
- Remember the poor. As you are making a list of gifts to give for family and friends, consider the poor in your Christmas budget
- Invite those who are alone into your Christmas celebrations
- Pray for the Prince of Peace to bring peace to the world
- Attend that your lamps are full so that you will not be found wanting at the day of His coming. Do this by “walking in the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”
Then remember that Christmas is a season and not a day. For the 12 days of Christmas feast and fellowship until the Feast of the Epiphany which is January 6, when the Church celebrates the visitation of the Magi.
You may stand out if you are fasting when everyone else is celebrating and then still celebrating Christmas after New Years, but it may offer you an opportunity to witness about living by a calendar that follows the life of Christ whom you seek to follow as your Lord and Savior.