New Year’s Day is a Holy Day of Obligation (and the Circumcision of Christ)

Just a reminder that New Year’s Day (Feast of the Holy Mother of God and the Octave of Christmas) is a Holy Day of Obligation* binding on Catholics of the Roman Rite. [This means that Catholics must attend Holy Mass on this day even though it’s not a Sunday.]

Formerly, January 1st was the feast of the “Circumcision of our Lord” but this was changed by His Holiness John XXIII. I think that it was changed so as to not offend Jews, but I hardly see the occasion for offense (Jesus was Jewish after all!).

I like the old title of “Circumcision of our Lord,” since Christ would have been circumcised on the eighth day after his birth–January 1 is the eighth day after Christmas. For this reason, the Gospel lesson tells of His circumcision. Mystically speaking, the circumcision of Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Law and the “down payment” of His future passion and death. It’s the first bloodletting of the Messiah.

* 1 January is listed in canon 1246 §1 of the Code of Canon Law as a Holy Day of Obligation, on which, as the following canon 1247 states, “the faithful are obliged to assist at Mass, to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body”. The bishops of some nations have transferred to feast to the following Sunday. It is currently observed on 1 January in Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, and the United States.
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