Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: New Year’s Day, January 1

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: New Year’s Day, January 1 December 31, 2023

Mary Mother of God and the New Year
Mary Mother of God and the New Year (Photo by A. Laflamme, featuring print from Rachel Lozeau Art)

Happy Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! Also, Happy New Year! And, Happy Octave of Christmas! Or still, Happy Feast of the Circumcision of Christ!

It makes sense that there is a lot to celebrate at the start of a new year. Beginning new has the feeling of maximum potential and initial purity. No ink has stained the paper of the year yet.

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

For a long time, I assumed that the Church placed this celebration of Mary on January 1 as a contradiction to more secular or even pagan celebrations of the same day – similar to the way Pope Pius XII moved St. Joseph the Worker’s feast to May 1. It turns out, there is more to it than that.

Octave of Christmas

The Church loves to extend our Holy Days to 8 day celebrations, or Octaves.

January 1 lands 8 days after Christmas and is thus a big reason for us to keep celebrating the joy of Christmas!

Christmas of course is about Jesus, but by celebrating Jesus’ birth we are also able to take joy in acknowledging Mary’s role in this season. This is why we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family during the Octave as well.

Additionally, there is extra significance in the 8th day after Christmas.

Feast of the Circumcision of Christ

“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

Luke 2:21

January 1st has been significant in celebrating Mary and specifically her motherhood for a long time. However, this used to be more explicitly tied to the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, as it still is in some churches.

As I mentioned in my post on the Nativity, I don’t pause often enough to think about the early days of Christ in Bethlehem. Luke’s gospel says that on the eighth day, “he was called Jesus”.

Like baptism of the New Covenant, circumcision was the entering into the Jewish family of God. As God Himself, Jesus did not need this, but instead it was a sign of him becoming fully human and into his human family. He was willing to shed blood for the first time and become a member of the Jewish family.

This significance of Circumcision points us back to this day being an important day that Mary would have called her Son by his Holy Name, Jesus. Today she would recognize her motherhood spiritually in addition to the physical Nativity of Christmas.

An Excerpt from Butler’s Lives of the Saints

“The Christian’s devotion on this day ought to consist, first, in the solemn consecration of the first fruits of the year to God; and secondly, in honoring the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, particularly his birth and circumcision. The church invites us on this day to unite our homages with the seraphic ardors and transports of devotion with which the glorious Mother of God assisted at these wonderful mysteries which we commemorate, but in which she acted herself so great a part.”

Rev. Alban Butler, The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and other Principal Saints, Vol 1, 1844

So, I think Butler agrees that today is a day for celebrating the New Year, Jesus’ birth and Circumcision, and Mary as Mother of God all at once!

Intro to the Lives of the Saints Series

In my reflection on my writings of 2023, I decided that I enjoy these posts about Saints and their feast days. Therefore, I have a goal of focusing on at least one saint or blessed each month, learning more about their feast, and writing about it.

This is the first of those posts, and I will hopefully collect 12 throughout the year!

Be sure to stay tuned for next month’s Lives of the Saint’s Reflection: St. Scholastica.

Read more Formed by a Flame or Subscribe to the Newsletter!

About Andrew Laflamme
Andrew is a husband and father. With experience as an engineer and Catholic missionary. You can read more about the author here.
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