Christmas and its Cycle

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The solemnity of Christmas, December 25, celebrates the birth of Christ. Christmas is the second major feast of the Christian liturgical year in importance after Easter, and commemorates the incarnation or coming of Christ in the flesh, one aspect of the Paschal Mystery. Christmas is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics. The Christmas season starts with Evening Prayer I of Christmas Eve, includes the feast of the Holy Family, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the solemnity of Epiphany, and concludes with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which begins the first week of the Year, or Ordinary Time.


The earliest mention of the Nativity of Christ on December 25 can be found in the Chronograph of Philocalus, a Roman almanac whose source material can be dated to 336. The Nativity can be found on two chronological lists: one of the consuls of Rome, the other of the death dates of Christian martyrs where the date appears at the head of the calendar, suggesting that it may have been marked as a feast among Christians in Rome.

The true birth date of Christ is unknown. The worldwide census reported in Luke 2.12 cannot be substantiated. By the late second century different groups of Christians held divergent ideas on the date of Christ's birth: January 6 or 10 (identified by Adoptionists as the date of his baptism as well), April 19 or 20, May 20, or November 18 (Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis I, 146.) The De Pascha Computus in 243 claimed that Christ was born on March 28. Sextus Julius Africanus, writing prior to 221, placed the dates of the annunciation and of the passion of Christ on March 25, which would point to a December 25 birth date. Origen (In Lev. Hom. VIII) stated that "only sinners" celebrate the birthdays of their kings such as Herod or Pharaoh; Christians customarily celebrated the death dates of their martyrs as their "birthday into heaven."

With no evidence for the exact date of Christ's birth, and no clear proof of the date at which the feast began to be celebrated, nor its rationale, liturgical historians have developed two noncompetitive theories. The theory held by the majority is known as the History of Religions hypothesis. In its more conservative form this theory suggests that the origins of the Nativity feast may be found in a series of striking parallels between the heliocentric religion of the late Roman Empire and the Christmas feast: 1) December 25 was the date of the winter solstice on the Julian calendar. As solar monotheism made inroads into Roman culture, the solstice was celebrated as the birthday of the sun god: first mithras, a private cult of male devotees imported from Persia, and later Sol Invictus, who was placed at the head of the pantheon of official Roman state gods by the emperor Aurelian in 274 as a symbolic representation of centralized imperial power. 2) Since the Nativity feast was instituted no earlier than 243, and no later than 336, this would have coincided with the rise of imperial solar worship. 3) Patristic sermons and texts of this period both in the East and the West employed numerous analogies between Christ and the sun: the rising sun as a symbol of his resurrection, Christ as the sun of justice (Mal 3.20), and Christ as the "true Sun" as distinguished from the non-Christian worship of the sun, a "mere creature" and not the Creator. The more extreme form of this hypothesis claims that Christmas represents an appropriation by Christians of the Roman feast of the birth of the Invincible Sun at the winter solstice, a christianization or "baptizing" of the civil feast. Such a move might have been intended to set up a distraction for Christians to keep them from participating in the Roman feast and the excesses of the Saturnalia,

which preceded it, or the civil New Year, which followed it, or perhaps to co-opt secular cultural customs in order to strengthen the newly legitimized Christian religion. However, early Christians consistently defined their own identity in opposition to their cultural surroundings, particularly in regard to other religions. Even in the mid-fifth century Leo I the Great (d. 461) scolded Christians who turned to bow to the rising sun before entering the basilica of St. Peter. (Patrologia Latina 54:218) This suggests that any influence of Roman worship practices upon Christians would have been strongly denied, yet the analogy between Christ and the sun clearly owed much to the cultural climate and state ideology of late imperial Rome.

A corollary of the History of Religions hypothesis holds that the main reason for the relatively rapid spread of the feast in the second half of the fourth and the fifth centuries was due to its use as an occasion for aggressive polemics on the part of Nicene Christian theologians and preachers against Arian and other variant Christian theological schools of thought, or against non-Christians. The Eastern fathers connected with the institution of the Christmas feast in the East after 380 (the Cappadocians and John Chrysostom) were also anti-Arian crusaders.

Leo the Great preached a series of ten Christmas sermons in Rome in which he both attacked various Christian and non-Christian groups, and employed numerous analogies between the sun and Christ, or between the "darkness" of his opponents and the "light" of orthodox Christians. Ironically, the Arians themselves could have interpreted the feast of Christ's birth to support their christological positions, which would suggest a date of origin later than the condemnation of Arianism in 325 at the Council of nicaea. The link between Christmas and patristic polemics is considered plausible due to the precarious situation of the Christian church and the deteriorating state of the empire.

The earliest assertion that Christmas had replaced a pre-existing feast of the birth of the sun can be found in a marginal note on a 12th-century manuscript by Dionysius Bar-Salibi. The earliest modern scholar to espouse the theory in its extreme form was H. Usener in 1889, supported by H. Lietzmann. F. J. Dölger's theories on parallels between Christianity and Roman sun worship tended to support the theory. B. Botte's 1932 monograph summarized the evidence for a moderate form of the hypothesis, which is commonly accepted today, particularly among European scholars.

The minority thesis for the origins of Christmas, the Calculation Hypothesis, suggests that its roots are to be found less in the relation of Christianity to its surrounding secular cultural context than in shifts of thought occurring with the Christian community itself. In this theory, the date of Christmas was determined in relation to March 25, the supposed date of Christ's crucifixion in a number of early texts. The anniversary of the creation of the world was believed to coincide with the spring equinox, and so Christ the true sun was generated at the same time. The Hebrew patriarchs were supposed to have lived a full number of years, since the perfection of God was not believed to permit the imperfection of fractions, thus they were customarily believed to have died on their birthday. In the case of Christ, if his date of death was March 25, and the Annunciation is marked on the 25th, a full nine months later would give a birth date of December 25, or January 6 in the East where the annunciation was celebrated on April 6.

While evidence exists for the significance of intricate symbolic number structures and the construction of symbolic relations among various religious phenomena in the church fathers, there are some weaknesses in this argument. There is no clear reason why the conception date of Christ would have been substituted for the birth date as in the case of the patriarchs. Such highly conceptual systems may have appealed to a well-educated elite but might not provide sufficient grounds for the institution of a feast to be celebrated by ordinary Christians.

This theory was first advanced by L. Duchesne in 1889, but not elaborated. H. Engberding attempted to boost its currency in 1949 by presenting a number of arguments that did not prove its tenets conclusively, though it intensified the scholarly debate before the theory fell into disinterest. In the 1980s T. Talley reviewed some of the evidence and built a more solid foundation to support the theory. Talley 1) disproved the thesis advanced by E. Norden in 1924 that January 6 was a pre-Christian solstice feast on the Egyptian calendar; 2) he discovered evidence in second-century Asian sources for a celebration of a Paschal feast that included the incarnation, on April 6, a conception date that would then point to a birth date of January 6 and would support the application of the even number of years in Christ's lifespan on earth; 3) he employed the argument from silence in Augustine's charge that the Donatists did not celebrate Epiphany (Sermo 202, Patrologia Latina 38:1033), to suggest that they might have celebrated Christmas before they split from the mainline Church in 311. The earlier the origins of Christmas, the less likely influence of solar worship, and, more specifically, the less likely was any intervention by the emperor Constantine. Since Constantine died in 337 at his Eastern capital Constantinople, which did not celebrate Christmas until the 380s, he is unlikely to have exerted any influence in its inception despite the parallels with Roman civil sun worship.

The earliest extant evidence for the celebration of the feast is found in a sermon by Optatus of Mileve in Numidia. In the early 360s he uses the gospel text of Herod's massacre of the innocents to encourage his people to stand fast in the face of the persecution taking place under the emperor Julian. The feast was known in Milan by the time of Ambrose (d. 397), who wrote several hymns, including Intende qui regis Israel, around Nativity themes. The letter of Pope Siricius (d. 399) to Himerius, bishop of Tarragona (Epis. 1.2.3., Patrologia Latina 13:1134) proves that Christmas was observed in Spain by 384, while the earliest certain evidence of the feast in Gaul is found in the calendar of Perpetuus, bishop of Tours (+491) (Gregory, Hist. Francorum, 10.31.6, Patrologia Latina 71: 566.)

In the East there had been a preexisting feast of the manifestation or genesis of Christ on January 6, a richer concept that in different geographic regions may have included the incarnation of Christ, the visit of the Magi, Christ's baptism in the Jordan, his first miracle at Cana, or the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. The earliest evidence for a Christmas feast on December 25 comes from a sermon of Basil (d. 379) (Homilia in s. Christi generationem, Patrologia Graeca 31:145776). In 379 or 380 Gregory of Nazianzus preached a Christmas sermon in Constantinople (In theophaniam oratio

38, Patrologia Graeca 36:311334); he also referred to himself as the originator (or possibly the main celebrant) of the feast (In sancta lumina oratio, Patrologia Graeca 36:349). John Chrysostom, preaching in Antioch in 386, seems to have encountered difficulty in persuading his congregation to accept this imported feast, since he resorts to several spurious arguments: that everyone has always known that the authentic birth date of Christ was December 25, which is confirmed by the census records from the time of Caesar Augustus, and an argument from the calculations of the respective birth dates (at the winter solstice and the summer solstice) and conception dates (at the spring equinox and autumn equinox) of Christ and John the Baptist. (In diem natalem Domini n. J.C., Patrologia Graeca 49:351). Paul of Emesa gave a Nativity sermon at Alexandria in the presence of St. Cyril on December 25, 432 (De nativitate, Patrologia Graeca 77:143344). In Palestine, however, the birth of Christ was celebrated on January 6 until the middle of the 7th century, when December 25 was accepted. The Armenians alone never accepted December 25. Under pressure from Rome some of the Eastern Catholic churches accepted the Christmas feast in the 16th century.

By the early Middle Ages Christmas marked the beginning of the calendar and was celebrated as a civil holiday

in which fasting was forbidden. On Christmas Day 800, at the third Mass, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the western Christian empire.

In 11th century France, the custom of enacting a Christmas play or trope appears in the liturgy, similar to that of Easter. One form of a play involved a dialogue with the shepherds based on Luke 2; plays from other countries depict the animals in the stable conversing. By the late Middle Ages many folklore customs and legends appear that claim that on Christmas Eve all of creation stops, or animals kneel, or plants bow, in honor of the Savior. Evil forces were thought to have no power to harm on Christmas.

In areas of Europe in which the Reformation took hold, Christmas celebrations took on a more muted tone and were forbidden in England during the Puritan period until 1660. In North America Christmas celebrations took on a festive and colorful character in the French and Spanish settlements. New England, due to its Puritan ethos, did not celebrate Christmas until the influx of Irish and German immigrants brought a wealth of Christmas customs such as the manger scene, carols, festive lights, and the liturgical observance of the feast.


The prolonged anti-Arian campaign, and later the anti-Nestorian movement, may have affected the contents of the feast. For Augustine, Christmas was a memoria, a commemoration of a historical event, not a mystery feast such as Easter. Less than fifty years later Leo the Great, who opposed the Arians as well as the Manichaeans, spoke of Christmas as a mysterion, a mystery feast or sacrament. Thus Christmas had become, in the first half of the fifth century, the liturgical celebration of the mystery of the Incarnation (see Gaillard).

Three Masses. The Feast of Christmas has three traditional Masses: at midnight, at dawn, and during the day, in addition to a vigil mass. Though this multiple liturgy is first mentioned by Gregory the Great (Homil. 8 in evang., Patrologia Latina 76:1103) it must have developed earlier.

The earliest record of a Mass at midnight occurs in the diary of Egeria for January 6 (ed. J. Wilkinson). In addition to this Mass celebrated in Bethlehem, another Mass was offered in the morning at the church on Calvary. This custom soon spread to Rome. Perhaps it was Sixtus III (+440) who introduced it, when after the Council of Ephesus he rebuilt the Liberian Basilica (St. Mary Major) with a replica of the grotto of Bethlehem behind the main altar. (Relics of the true crib were acquired in the 7th century, and in 1586 the entire reproduction was removed to the Sistine Chapel of the basilica.) The station for the Mass at midnight has always been at this altar of the crib. The formulary is first found in the Gelasian Sacramentary (59; ed. L. C. Mohlberg, 78).

The Mass at dawn may also have been instituted in imitation of the liturgy at Palestine. Egeria describes a procession from Bethlehem back to Jerusalem with a gathering at the Holy Sepulchre at dawn. Though it is not known whether a Mass followed (a page is missing at this point), the Psalms repeated during the procession appear in the Gradual of the Roman Missal. The documents, beginning with the oldest Gregorian sacramentaries (ed. L.C. Mohlberg, 2) list St. Anastasia as the station for the second Mass. In the 6th century the cult of the Byzantine martyr Anastasia was localized in this church, named either for its founder or for the Anastasis in Jerusalem. Out of respect for the nearby Byzantine colony, the Bishop of Rome celebrated Mass here at dawn on the feast of the martyr, December 25. The Mass was the memorial of the saint, with a commemoration of Christmas. When the influence of Byzantium waned, the station was preserved and the Mass became one of Christmas with a commemoration of the martyr. From indirect evidence in the Gelasian Sacramentary, however, it has been argued that the Christmas Mass antedates that of St. Anastasia.

The third Mass, the oldest and principal Mass, was celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter. The station was transferred to St. Mary Major by Gregory VII (10731085) to eliminate the inconvenience of returning to St. Peter's after the earlier Masses (Ordo Rom. 11.17; Patrologia Latina 78:1032).

Originally, the three Masses were stational and therefore celebrated only by the pope. But the multiple liturgies spread with the Roman Sacramentaries to the titular churches of the city, and then beyond Rome. In the Carolingian period the three masses were made mandatory, no longer as stational liturgies, but as three separate liturgies celebrated at different times on one day in one church.

In the 1997 Lectionary the readings for the three Christmas Masses, and the Vigil Mass, are invariable over the three yearly cycles. The vigil mass uses the gospel of Matthew 1.125, the extensive genealogy of Christ followed by the annunciation to Joseph, although the short form uses only the latter. The Mass at Midnight begins the readings with the prophetic text of Isaiah 9.16 on the Messiah who will free the people from war and oppression. The gospel reading is Luke 2.114, the narrative of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem and the annunciation to the shepherds. For the Mass at dawn the gospel is Luke 2:1520, the visitation by the shepherds. The Mass during the day uses John 1.118, the more theological approach to the incarnation of Christ the Word of God. Each of these three Christmas liturgies uses a text from Isaiah as the first reading, and the mass during the day uses the beginning of the book of Hebrews as the second reading. The dominant scriptural themes progress with the time of day: from the theme of expectation, to the narrative of Christ's birth, to the proclamation to the shepherds and their presence and witness, to the overarching eternal plan of God whose keynote can be found in the profound prologue of the gospel of John.

Some of the eight prayer formulas from the Leonine Sacramentary, as well as other ancient sources, have been taken over in the current Roman Missal or have inspired new prayer formulas. The opening prayer for Mass during the day is taken from the Leonine Sacramentary and presents Leo the Great's theme of the "admirable exchange:" that Christ became human so that through his weakness humanity may share in his glory. The opening prayer for Mass at midnight, taken from the Gelasian Sacramentary, echoes the historically significant theme of darkness and light, presenting Christ by implication as the true sun. The second preface for Christmas echoes the controversies between Nicene and Arian Christians in the fourth century: "Christ is your Son before all ages, yet now he is born in time "

The Christmas cycle. In the Leonine Sacramentary Christmas concludes the sanctoral cycle, but in the Würzburg Lectionary (7th century) it is found at the head of the temporal calendar. Christmas had become the beginning of the yearly cycle of feasts. Then, like Easter, it became the center of a season with a period of preparation (Advent), a vigil, an octave, and the related feasts of Epiphany and the Presentation of the Lord.

Vigil. The vigil of Christmas is found in the Würzburg Lectionary. Among the nine Christmas prayer formularies of the Leonine Sacramentary, two are obviously for the vigil (ed. L. C. Mohlberg, 1240, 1253).

Saints' feasts. Since ancient times, certain saints, called comites Christi by Durandus (Rationale divinorum off. 7.42.1) have been commemorated on the days following December 25. They are mentioned in Gregory of Nyssa (Oratio funebris in laudem fratris Basilii, Patrologia Graeca 46:789) and are found in all the Sacramentaries.

A feast of St. Stephen on December 26 is mentioned by Gregory of Nyssa (In sanctum Stephanum, Patrologia Graeca 46:701, 721), the Breviarium Syriacum (ed. B. Mariani, Rome 1956, 1:27), and in the Calendar of Carthage (H. Leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 8:1:654). It is found in the Würzburg Lectionary and in the early Gregorian Sacramentaries. The Byzantine and Armenian rites, however, have the feast on December 27. The Leonine Sacramentary has it on August 3, but some of the texts (694, 696) contain explicit references to Christmas. Another text (701) suggests that August 3 was the dedication of the Basilica of St. Stephen.

A Feast of St. John the Evangelist is found on December 27 in the Roman books, while many Oriental and Gallican books (such as the Breviarium Syriacum ) list SS. James and John. The Calendar of Carthage has St. John the Baptist with St. James, but this must be considered in error (Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne 8.1:645).

Eastern sources have a commemoration of SS. Peter and Paul on December 28 (Breviarium Syriacum ) or of Peter with James and John on December 27 and Paul on December 28 (Gregory of Nyssa, In laudem fratris Basilii, Patrologia Graeca 46:789). Because the feast of these two apostles was fixed at an early date in Rome on June 29, they are not commemorated after Christmas in the West.

A feast of the Holy Innocents is found in most documents on December 28. Originally festive, under Gallican influence the commemoration acquired aspects of mourning (purple vestments, omission of the Te Deum, Gloria, and Alleluia ), all of which were suppressed in 1961.

The feasts of St. Thomas Becket (d. 1170) on December 29 and St. Sylvester (d. 336) on December 31 (in the Chronograph of Philocalus of 354) are optional memorials in the present sanctoral calendar.

Octave. January 1 has had at various times a Mass against pagan practices, a Mass of the Virgin Mary, and a Mass of the octave of Christmas.

The oldest of these is the Missa ad prohibendum ab idolis, which bears witness to the survival of pre-Christian practices (Righetti 2:42). St. Augustine (Sermo 198; Patrologia Latina 38:102426) attacked such practices and exhorted the faithful to prayer and penance. The Second Council of Tours (567) and the Fifth Council of Toledo (633) ordered penance on this day (c.17, Hefele-Leclercq 3:188, and c.11, ibid. 3:269). This Mass, however, fell into disuse in the 6th and 7th centuries. The Gregorian Sacramentary preserved the Secret and Post-communion prayers, which were used in the Tridentine Mass.

A Mass in honor of the Virgin Mary on January 1 was also known at Rome (B. Botte, "La première fête mariale"). The Byzantine and Syrian liturgies have a feast of the Virgin Mary on December 26. The Roman Mass may have been inspired by local circumstances and may have originated as the dedication of S. Maria Antiqua, formerly the station on January 1. It is possible that a pre-Christian legend in which a dragon devoured a vestal virgin on this spot in the Roman Forum on January 1 may have suggested a feast in honor of the Virgin who conquered the devil. The antiphons used in the office for this day were probably inherited from the Byzantine monks who once served S. Maria Antiqua. The formulary was vultum tuum, the common of virgins, with proper orations and a preface derived from St. Augustine. At first the Gospel was from the same common (Mt 13.4452), later the text of Lk 2.2132 was used. Though this Mass persisted in some places in the Middle Ages, it fell into disuse as other feasts of the Virgin Mary developed. According to Botte this Mass can be considered the oldest Marian feast in the Roman liturgy (ibid. ).

The Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries have a formulary "in octabas Domini," for the octave of the Lord. Originally, the only reference to the Circumcision was in the Gospel, logically chosen from Lk 2.2132. This text also included the Presentation until a proper feast of this event developed. The station, formerly at S. Maria ad Martyres, was transferred to S. Maria in Trastevere by Callistus II (111924). The Circumcision became the primary object of this feast day, first in Spain, then in Gaul, and finally in Rome (Righetti 22:43). From the 15th century Roman books have the title "Feast of the Circumcision." The earlier title "Octave of the Nativity" was restored in 1961.

At present this is celebrated as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and is a holy day of obligation in the United States, except when it falls on a Saturday or a Monday. The readings for Mass, invariable for all three cycles, include the gospel reading from Lk 2.1621, which concludes with a reference to Jesus' circumcision and naming on the eighth day following his birth. At the discretion of the local bishop the Mass for the World Day of Prayer for Peace may be celebrated on this day.

Holy Family. Previously celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany, this was moved in 1969 to the Sunday within the octave of Christmas to bring the mystery of the Holy Family into closer temporal proximity with the feast of the Nativity. In those years when no Sunday occurs during the octave, the feast is celebrated on December 30 with just one reading before the gospel. The readings provided vary among the three cycles; the gospel readings include Mt 2.1315, 1923 (the flight into Egypt), Lk2.2240 (the presentation of Jesus in the temple), and Lk2.4152 (Jesus in the temple at age 12).

The second Sunday after Christmas (falling between January 2 and 5) replaces the feast of the Holy Name. Dating back to 1528 and made a feast of the universal church in 1721, the feast of the Holy Name was suppressed in the 1969 calendar.

Epiphany. The Feast of the Epiphany, first celebrated in Rome in the second half of the 4th century, traditionally falls on January 6. In those countries where it is not a holy day of obligation it can be celebrated on the Sunday that falls between January 2 and 8 (see epiphany).

European Christmas Customs. The use of the manger scene in church and home derives ultimately from the grotto in Bethlehem and its reproduction in St. Mary Major. It owes its popularity to St. Francis of Assisi, who organized a live manger scene in 1223 in the Italian town of Greccio. In many regions the figure of the Christ child is solemnly placed in the manger scene after the first Mass.

While a fir tree was commonly brought into the house in the winter even in pre-Christian times, some Christian commentators have suggested the origin of the decorated Christmas tree in the "Paradise tree," first found in Strasbourg in 1605. This tree, decorated with apples, served as a prop in Christmas mystery plays about Adam and Eve and later came to symbolize the Tree of Life.

The term "carol," formerly designating a Christmas song of a popular nature as opposed to a more solemn hymn, is now generally used of all Christmas songs. The first hymns using the themes of the Nativity of Christ were composed in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. Christmas carols were also popularized in late medieval Italy by the Franciscans, and their popularity spread throughout Europe (see carol).

Exchanging of gifts, in harmony with the significance of Christmas, may have been influenced by a similar custom (strenae ) among non-Christians on January 1. Gifts are exchanged by the French on January 1, among the Spanish and Italians on January 6, and by other nationalities on December 25. In most parts of Europe it is the Christ Child who brings the gifts. After the Reformation the day itself was personified, and the figure of Father Christmas was later combined with St. Nicholas, the patron of children, to become Santa Claus. In Italy gifts are brought by the old woman Befana (from "Epiphany") and in Spain by the Three Kings.

Pastoral issues. Some of the contemporary pastoral issues linked with the liturgical celebration of Christmas include: 1) how to serve the relatively large numbers attending Christmas liturgies, which includes many non-Catholics or marginal Christians; 2) the high incidence of holiday depression, particularly among those with few family ties; 3) the often intense commercial pressure characteristic of the period before Christmas, which can obscure the religious meaning of the feast for Christians;4) the preemptive anticipation of Christmas by means of Christmas concerts, pageants and other festivities throughout Advent; 5) the fact that the climatic winter symbolism characteristic of the Northern hemisphere, which largely determines the character of Christmas cultural celebrations, particularly in poetry and music, is completely reversed in the Southern hemisphere.

Bibliography: s. k. roll, Toward the Origins of Christmas (Kampen, 1995); t. j. talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year (Collegeville, 1991); a.j. martimort ed. The Church at Prayer IV: The Liturgy and Time (Collegeville, 1986); h. auf der maur, Feiern im Rhythmus der Zeit (Regensburg, 1983):165176; r. e. brown, The Birth of the Messiah (New York, 1979); l. fendt, "Der heutige Stand der Forschung über das Weihnachtsfest am 25.12 und über Epiphanie, "Theologische Literaturzeitung 78(1953): 110; b. botte, Les origines de Noël et de l'Épiphanie (Louvain, 1932); ibid., "La premiére fête mariale de la liturgie romaine, "Ephemerides Liturgicae 47 (1933): 425430; f. j. dÖlger, "Sol salutis. Gebet und Gesang im christlichen Altertum," (Münster, 1925); j. gaillard, "Noël: memoria ou mystère? "La Maison-Dieu 15/59 (1959): 3759; j. gunstone, Christmas and Epiphany. Studies in Christian Worship (London, 1967); f. x. weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs (New York, 1958); t. a. krosnicki, "The Christmas Cycle in the Roman Missal of Paul VI, "American Ecclesiastical Review 165:4 (December 1971): 271281; a. nocent, The Liturgical Year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany (Collegeville, 1977); j. wilkinson, Egeria's Travels (Jerusalem, 1981.)

[s. k. roll]

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Christmas and its Cycle

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