Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God Start the New Year With Jesus' Mother—and Our Own Share Flipboard Email Print Tetra Images / Getty Images Christianity Catholicism Holy Days and Holidays Beliefs and Teachings Prayers Tips Worship Saints Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Latter Day Saints View More By Scott P. Richert Catholicism Expert M.A., Political Theory, Catholic University of America B.A., Political Theory, Michigan State University Scott P. Richert is senior content network manager of Our Sunday Visitor. He has written about Catholicism for outlets including Humanitas and Catholic Answers Magazine. our editorial process Scott P. Richert Updated June 25, 2019 During the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Catholic Church celebrates many important feasts, including the feasts of Saint Stephen, the first martyr (December 26), whose martyrdom is recorded in Acts 6-7; Saint John the Apostle (December 27), who wrote the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation, as well as three epistles; the Holy Innocents (December 29), the children who were slaughtered at the order of King Herod, when he was trying to kill the Christ Child; and the Holy Family (normally celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, and on December 30, when Christmas falls on a Sunday). None, however, is as important as the feast celebrated on the octave (eighth day) of Christmas, January 1: the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Quick Facts About the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God Date: January 1Type of Feast: Solemnity; Holy Day of Obligation Readings: Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21 (full text here)Other Names for the Feast: The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God; the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God The History of the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God In the early centuries of the Church, once Christmas began to be celebrated as its own feast on December 25 (having originally been celebrated with the Feast of the Epiphany, on January 6), the Octave (eighth day) of Christmas, January 1, took on a special meaning. In the East, and throughout much of the West, it became common to celebrate a feast of Mary, the Mother of God, on this day. This feast was never established in the universal calendar of the Church, however, and a separate feast, celebrating the Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ (which would have taken place a week after His birth), eventually took hold of January 1. With the revision of the liturgical calendar at the time of the introduction of the Novus Ordo, the Feast of the Circumcision was set aside, and the ancient practice of dedicating January 1 to the Mother of God was revived—this time, as a universal feast. A Holy Day of Obligation In fact, the Church regards the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, as so important that it is a Holy Day of Obligation. On this day, we are reminded of the role that the Blessed Virgin played in the plan of our salvation. Christ's Birth was made possible by Mary's fiat: "Be it done unto me according to Thy word." God-Bearer One of the earliest titles given by Christians to the Blessed Virgin was Theotokos—"God-bearer." We celebrate her as the Mother of God, because, in bearing Christ, she bore the fullness of the Godhead within her. As we begin another year, we draw inspiration from the selfless love of the Theotokos, who never hesitated to do the will of God. And we trust in her prayers to God for us, that we might, as the years pass, become more like her. O Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!