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Twelve Songs of Christmas


Matthew Becklo - published on 12/20/13 - updated on 06/08/17

Christmas doesn't start with Halloween, but it also doesn't end with New Year's. Here's the Christmas playlist you need to take you all the way to Epiphany.

Almost a month ago now, I wrote an article about our collective cultural need to slow down the Christmas crazy train with some Advent music.  

Those 10 songs were meant to emphasize that the joy of Christmas – a holiday so often associated with music – should linger in the wings until Christmas day, and not show up all jazzed up and jolly before the celebration actually begins. Advent, too, is a special time – one which deserves its own soundtrack.

But the radio, TV specials, and mall decorations have us all under an odd spell. We’re told that “Christmas time” starts after Halloween (it doesn’t) and ends on New Year’s Eve (also false). Christmas is marched out too early, spread too thin, cut off too soon. Less Advent, ironically, ends up meaning less of a Christmas – the two seem to need each other.

Low and behold, the time has flown – not that anyone saw that coming – and Christmas is right on our doorstep.

So I thought it might be appropriate to follow up those ten songs of Advent with twelve songs of Christmas – one for each of the twelve days of the liturgical season. These songs will hopefully be a small reminder to not let Christmas dash off into the snow too early – not until the rum is all gone and the party is officially over.

More importantly, these songs and feast days remind us that while snow, Santa, and stockings are all fun reminders of the spirit of Christmas, the true spirit of Christmas is Christ. Or, as G. K. Chesterton once quipped, “There can be nothing more Christian than Christmas.”

What child is this? What does this birth announce? Luke Foster, in a recent article titled “Infinity Enfleshed” at the online journal Ethika Politka, put it beautifully:

“… The Incarnation has indelibly imprinted the minds of all of us who dwell in the shadow of Christendom. Those of us who claim to follow that divine Baby would do well to strive to rework every thread of our thinking around the knowledge that the Mind that orders the cosmos wailed for His mother. There is a glorious comedy in this, a magnanimous ennobling of the simplest and most ordinary things… We also cannot forget what is easily forgotten: the small, the local, the old, the childish, the poor, the weak, all that grounds us in reality beyond ourselves.”

Amen – and a very Merry Christmas to all of the editors, writers, and readers here at Aleteia!

December 25: The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

December 26: St. Stephen (The First Martyr)

December 27: St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Patron Saint of Friendship)

December 28: The Holy Innocents (Martyrs)

December 29: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

December 30: 6th Day within the Octave of the Nativity

December 31: 7th Day within the Octave of the Nativity (New Year’s Eve)

January 1: Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

January 2: Saints Basil and Gregory, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

January 3: The Most Holy Name of Jesus

January 4: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1st Native-born American Saint)

January 5: The Epiphany of the Lord

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