Liturgically speaking, the season of Christmas actually lasts beyond 12 days. Christmas season begins with the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass and lasts through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This year the Christmas season will last for 19 days, but the length of the season varies slightly each year with the calendar.
Regardless of how you count it, there is no reason to go putting away your Christmas tree quite yet! We invite you to use the “12 days of Christmas” prayer and family activity guide as a starting point, a simple way of welcoming Jesus into your hearts anew this Christmas season
If you have ever wondered at the meaning of the lyrics to The 12 Days of Christmas, start with this link (it will also help you understand references to some of the daily prayers!).
Day 1: December 25 – Come let us Adore Him
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have given us the gift of all gifts in the birth of your precious son Jesus. As we begin the 12 days of Christmas, let us adore you and keep you in the center of our lives today and every day.
Activity: Read Isaiah 9:6-7 as a family
Day 2: December 26 – Feast of St. Stephen
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of St. Stephen and his courage to stand up for his faith, even when it wasn’t popular. Help us to be bold enough to share our faith with friends, family and everyone we meet.
Activity: Look up and listen to the Christmas Carol, “Good King Wenceslas”, and see if you can hear any mention of St. Stephen.
Bonus Activity: Read Acts 6:8—7:60
Day 3: December 27 – Feast of the Holy Family
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of family that you have given us through Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. We pray for extraordinary faith and devotion to God and to each other, as we saw in the lives of the Holy Family.
Activity: Discuss what you think family life might have been like for Jesus as child with his parents, Mary and Joseph. What do you think are the similarities and differences to your own family life?
Day 4: December 28 – Feast of the Holy Innocents
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know Jesus loves the little children when he said to the Apostles; “Let them come unto me.” We pray today for all the children who have joined you in heaven, and for their mothers, fathers, and all those who feel and mourn their loss. We pray for them to be comforted and surrounded in your love.
Activity: Read Mt 2:13-18 and Mt 19:13-14
Day 5: December 29 – Five Golden Rings
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your word given to us in the Old Testament. Through these books you have shown us your power, mercy, and love throughout history. May we keep your word alive throughout our daily lives.
Activity: Ask everyone what are the 1st five books of the bible? Share some of your favorite stories from these books. Take this opportunity to read some of these scriptures as a family.
Day 6: December 30 – Six Geese-A-Laying
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the beautiful world you have created, and everything in it. Lord let us be good stewards of all that you have given us. And in all the beauty you have made, may we see your face, and give you the glory.
Activity: Read Genesis Chapter 1 as a family.
Bonus Activity: Share with each other some of the beautiful places that you have visited or seen that remind you of the glory of God’s creation.
Day 7: December 31 – New Beginnings
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, as we come to the end of this year and begin a new one, help us to be thankful for all that you have done for us. In both trials and celebrations, we know that you were with us every step of the way. We look forward to a New Year, may we be renewed in our faith and in our relationship with you.
Activity: Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as a family.
Day 8: January 1 – Solemnity of Mary
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you today for Mary, the mother of Jesus. We are grateful for her “Yes” to you to be the mother of our Lord and Savior. Help us to use her example of faithfulness to say “Yes” to whatever you would ask us to do, no matter how scary or difficult.
Activity: Read Luke 1:26-56 as a family.
Bonus Activity: Pray the Rosary together as a family.
Day 9: January 2 – Nine Ladies Dancing
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, as the parties are over and the presents have been opened, let us not forget that we are still in the celebration of Christmas. Today we thank you for the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit. Let us use them to remind us how to interact with those around us in our daily lives.
Activity: Read Galatians 5:22-25 as a family
Bonus Activity: Plan a service project to do as a family sometime during 2020
Day 10: January 3 – Ten Lords-a-Leaping
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of the Ten Commandments. Help us to stay focused and give us your strength so we may obey all that you have instructed us to do.
Activity: Read Exodus 20: 1-17
Bonus Activity: Pray to Jesus for forgiveness if you can think of ways you have broken the commandments. For those who have had the Sacrament of Reconciliation, consider a time to go to confession.
Day 11: January 4 – The Most Holy Name of Jesus
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your son Jesus and we praise His Holy Name. We know the power of the name of Jesus, but also the hope, peace, mercy and grace that it brings. We pray that through us others may come to know Him.
Activity: Read Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21
Bonus Activity: Read Philippians 2: 9-11
Day 12: January 5 – The Epiphany
Prayer: Heavenly Father, today we thank you for the gift of the three wise men. We pray that today and for the rest of this year, we look for and recognize signs that point us to you. We pray for wisdom, strength and perseverance to follow the paths that You set before us.
Activity: Gather around your family Nativity set and discuss all the different characters who were present at the birth of Jesus. Discuss how they are meaningful to you as you disassemble and pack it away for another year.