Holy Days of Obligation surrounding Christmas

As Christmas Day falls on a Saturday this year, many are asking "if I go to Mass on Christmas Day evening, will that fulfill both Christmas and Sunday obligations?"

This is a great question as we plan for a Saturday Christmas Day; the feast of the Holy Family; and the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God. The last time Christmas fell on a Saturday was in 2010, and we won’t see it again until 2027, so this is certainly a question worth “brushing up” on. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship examined the question regarding the fulfillment of the obligation to attend Mass on consecutive feast days in 2017. In short, the decision is that each obligation, in this case Christmas on Saturday and Holy Family on Sunday, must be fulfilled with a separate Mass. This means that for Christmas this year, you may go to Mass from Friday evening, Dec. 24 through Saturday evening, Dec. 25. For Holy Family on Sunday, you may go to Mass from the evening of Saturday, Dec. 25 through Sunday, Dec. 26.

Even knowing all of this, the calendar can still be a bit daunting! So, here are scenarios that might help as you plan:

  • You could attend Mass on Friday evening for Christmas and Saturday evening for Holy Family;
  • Mass on Saturday morning for Christmas and again on Saturday evening for Holy Family; or
  • Mass on Saturday evening for Christmas and Sunday anytime for Holy Family. If you do choose to go to an evening Mass on Dec. 25 for Sunday, just be aware that you will hear the readings for Christmas Day (even though it is for Sunday).

Additionally, note that the obligation to attend Mass of the Solemnity of Mary on Jan. 1 is abrogated whenever it falls on a Saturday or Monday. We hope this gives some practical help in planning for our upcoming feast days!