The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.
When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception. (2:16-21)
The Gospel of St Luke
Giovanni Bellini, “The Circumcision” (c. 1500)
Today is New Year’s Day on the secular calendar, a day when you take down the Christmas decorations, put the tree by the roadside, and clean the house of any leftovers — wrapping paper and shirt boxes, a place for all the different soaps and shampoos you received, through out the candies you received in your stocking — because after all, it is the new year: a time for turning over new leaves, making grand resolution about weight-loss, diet, and exercise.
Most folks have today off from work, as they did Christmas day, and will spend more time with family and friends eating pork, black-eyed peas in their Hoppin’ John, and a healthy dose of collared greens.
The Christian calendar, however, reads slightly different. Today is the eighth day of the eight-day Christmas octave. The Christmas feast began the 25th of December, as it does every year, and rushes through the New Year’s celebration, and concludes on the first of January, formerly the Feast of the Circumcision (see Holy Scripture above), now the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Octaves include and follow the major feasts on the Christian year (Easter, Pentecost).
Of course, Christmastide, or the Twelve Days of Christmas, is still moving towards its own conclusion, the celebration of Twelfth Night, the night before Epiphany, when the Magi (or Three Kings, if you prefer) visit the Christ-Child and his divinity shown to the world. Twelfth Night, since it anticipates the gifts of the Magi, is the day when many Catholic families in Italy, Spain, and the Hispanic word give out their presents to children.
Bottom-line: you’ve still got more celebratin’ to do. Remember that Lent is only seven weeks away.