January 1 is an important day in the Church’s liturgy.
There is a lot that we commemorate on this day!
What we are celebrating, and why we are celebrating it now, can be a little confusing.
Here are nine things you should know . . .
1. What exactly are we celebrating on January 1?
According to the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar [.pdf]:
1 January, the octave day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the holy Mother of God, and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus [Norms, 35f].
2. Didn’t this day used to signify something else?
Yes. Pope Benedict explains:
It was Pope Paul VI who moved to 1 January the Feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, which was formerly celebrated on 11 October.
Indeed, even before the liturgical reform that followed the Second Vatican Council, the memorial of the circumcision of Jesus on the eighth day after his birth — as a sign of submission to the law, his official insertion in the Chosen People — used to be celebrated on the first day of the year and the Feast of the Name of Jesus was celebrated the following Sunday [Homily, Jan. 1, 2008].