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Is Christmas a Holy Day of Obligation?


Nativity scene (2007) at the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Rome. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)

A Nativity scene for Christmas 2007 in front of the main altar at the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Rome, Italy.

(Photo © Scott P. Richert)

Question: Is Christmas a Holy Day of Obligation?

In recent years, a number of Protestant churches, led by Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs, have begun to cancel their services on Christmas, arguing that Christians should be home with their families on such an important day rather than in church. What does the Catholic Church say?

Answer: Christmas Day is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church. It is the second most important feast in the entire liturgical year, behind only Easter. Therefore, it is important for Christians to gather as one body and to worship Christ on this feast of His Nativity. The Church considers this so important that Catholics are bound to attend Mass on Christmas Day, under the pain of mortal sin.

To find out which day Christmas falls on in the current year, check out "When Is Christmas Day?"

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