Do Catholics Celebrate Christmas?

With the Christmas season coming up, have you been wondering about who does and does not celebrate Christmas? Perhaps, specifically that if Catholics celebrate the holiday?

Yes, Catholics do celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, on the 25th of December religiously every year. In fact, it is their second most important holiday of the year.

Continue reading to find the significance of Christmas among the Catholics and why and how they celebrate it.

Christmas Celebrations

On December 25, Christians of both the Catholic and Protestant traditions commemorate Jesus’ birth.

All Christians including the Catholics who use the Gregorian calendar observe the yearly day remembering the birth of Jesus.

For Catholics, Christmas is a holy season because it celebrates the arrival of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Some Catholic holidays and festivities have localized variations, while many others are universal.

Common ways to mark the occasion include visiting with loved ones and sharing presents.


The Christian season of Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continues until the 24th. This season is symbolic of Christians’ eager anticipation of Christ’s birth at the end of the year.

Some people also create Jesse Trees at this time to honor the Jewish heritage of Jesus Christ and to exhibit alongside their Advent lights, wreaths, and calendars.

On December 6, European Catholics traditionally celebrate St. Nicholas of Myra.

Also in December are the feasts of St. Barbara on the 4th, the Immaculate Conception on the 8th, Our Lady of Guadalupe on the 12th, and St. Lucy on the 13th.

From December 16th to the 24th, Mexicans celebrate Las Posadas. Participants in this tradition dress up as Joseph and Mary and go from house to house reciting the Rosary and hosting festivities.

Nativity Scene

As Advent begins, many Catholic homes decorate with Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus.

With the exception of the Magi and the infant Jesus, they arrange all the characters in the scenario. A few individuals manually tally the numbers every night.

It’s a tradition that gets people psyched up for the parties to come.


Christmastide, which honors the birth of Jesus Christ, may last for one day (December 25) or for twelve days (December 25–January 13), known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.

During this time, people get together to eat, drink, and sing carols.

Candles, laurel wreaths, Christmas trees, rosemary, holly, ivy, mistletoe, poinsettias, and a variety of red birds are just a few of the numerous symbols linked with the Christmas season.

At dusk on December 24, people throughout the world begin the Christmastide ritual of lighting the Yule log in the fireplace.

The celebration continues with Mass, the repositioning of Jesus in the Nativity scene, and festive meals for the faithful. Many Christian groups, including Catholics, have midnight masses.

Christians believe that the birth of Jesus Christ took place on Christmas Eve, hence a special ceremony is done at night all around the globe to commemorate the event.

While the Midnight Mass is the most popular, there are other Masses held on Christmas morning or Shepherd’s Mass and Christmas day or Kings’ Mass for Catholics to attend.

Christmas Meals

Meals during Catholic Christmas festivities vary by nation, although traditionally, Christmas Eve is not a time for eating meat for most Catholics.

In many cultures, Christmas Day is a day of nonstop eating. Along with traditional foods like ham and turkey, many cultures offer a wide variety of cookies, desserts, fruits, and sweets.

Most devotees set the table with fresh flowers, candles, and their best dinnerware. Some families honor deceased or absent loved ones by placing a seat at the table.

Similarly, Italian Catholics traditionally eat fish for Christmas Eve dinner, in contrast to their counterparts throughout the globe who often eat meat.

It’s a custom that Italian emigrants from the early 20th century forward have spread all across the globe.

Gift Giving

When Christmas presents are exchanged varies by family and country of origin.

On December 6, some European Catholics celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra by exchanging presents with friends and family.

On January 6, many Italian Catholics exchange presents with their loved ones in celebration of Epiphany.

While most Americans celebrate Christmas on the 25th, many Latin Americans celebrate Christmas on the 24th.

Final Thoughts

Christmas is a big deal among the Catholics and they have several festivities they joyfully associate with the day to celebrate Christ’s birth.