Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter itself. It is the feast of the incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh (the Latin "in carne" means "enfleshment"). It is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us. Because of this belief,God is not only Transcendent, but also wholly Immanent, Emmanuel (God-with-us). While remaining Transcendent (meaning we must rise above our present condition to reach Him), He is at the same time Immanent (meaning He is with us as we rise toward Him). Every Eucharist is like Christmas where the bread and wine are transformed into His flesh, His Body and Blood, and, in a sense, He is born anew on the altar.
The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him…including the fact that he was born to die for us.
The Christmas tree and the Nativity scene are popular symbols of the season and a tradition in many Christian homes. It is also traditional to exchange Christmas gifts with family and friends as a way to honor God the Father's gift of his only son to the world. Having received the gift of Christ, we naturally want to pass that gift along to our loved ones.
Below, you will find links to blessings and other content to help you celebrate this season of joy and hope for salvation.
Blessing of a Christmas Manger or Nativity Scene
In its present form the custom of displaying figures depicting the birth of Jesus Christ
owes its origin to St. Francis of Assisi, who made the Christmas crèche or manger
for Christmas Eve of 1223.
The blessing of the Christmas manger or nativity scene may take place on the Vigil
of Christmas or at another suitable time.
When the manger is set up in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a
parent or another family member.
All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R/. Who made heaven and earth.
One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Luke 2:1 (lines 1-8) or Isaiah 7:10 (lines 10-15, the birth of Emmanuel).
Reader: The Gospel of the Lord.
R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
The leader prays with hands joined:
God of every nation and people,
from the very beginning of creation
you have made manifest your love:
when our need for a Savior was great
you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.
To our lives he brings joy and peace,
justice, mercy, and love.
bless all who look upon this manger;
may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus,
and raise our thoughts to him,
who is God-with-us and Savior of all,
and who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Blessing of a Christmas Tree
The use of the Christmas tree is relatively modern. Its origins are found in the medieval mystery plays that depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light or candle that symbolized Christ, the Light of the world. According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and may remain in place until the Solemnity of Epiphany. The lights of the tree are illuminated after the prayer of blessing.
In the home the Christmas tree may be blessed by a parent or another family member, in connection with the evening meal on the Vigil of Christmas or at another suitable time on Christmas Day.
When all have gathered, a suitable song may be sung.
The leader makes the sign of the cross, and all reply “Amen.”
The leader may greet those present in the following words:
Let us glorify Christ our light, who brings salvation and peace into our midst, now and forever.
In the following or similar words, the leader prepares those present for the blessing:
My brothers and sisters, amidst signs and wonders Christ Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea: his birth brings joy to our hearts and enlightenment to our minds. With this tree, decorated and adorned, may we welcome Christ among us; may its lights guide us to the perfect light.
One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Titus 3:4 (lines 4-7) or Ezekiel 17:22 (lines 22-24 4; I will plant a tender shoot on the mountain heights of Israel.)
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
R/. Thanks be to God.
The intercessions are then said. The leader says:
Let us ask God to send his blessing upon us and upon this
sign of our faith in the Lord.
R/. Lord, give light to our hearts.
That this tree of lights may remind us of the tree of glory on
which Christ accomplished our salvation, let us pray to the
That the joy of Christmas may always be in our homes, let
us pray to the Lord. R/.
That the peace of Christ may dwell in our hearts and in the
world, let us pray to the Lord. R/.
After the intercessions the leader invites all present to say the
The leader says the prayer with hands joined:
Lord our God,
we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.
We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace,
who fills us with the wonder of your love.
let your blessing come upon us
as we illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives
be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree
come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The lights of the tree are then illuminated.
The leader concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:
May the God of glory fill our hearts with peace and joy, now
The blessing concludes with a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:
O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.