SATURDAY, JANUARY 1: It’s the Octave Day of Christmas for Roman Catholics as many honor the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God with a day for the “God-bearer.” (Check out AmericanCatholic.org for more, including a way to send a Mary, Mother of God e-card to a friend or relative.)
In some Catholic countries, today is a holy day of obligation. Christmas traditionally focuses on the infant Jesus, but today’s feast expands that revelation to include the woman who was chosen by God to bear the Son. In Christian teaching, God’s ultimate plan depended on Mary accepting the request sent to her via the angel Gabriel. (Wikipedia has more on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.)
The specific title of “Mother of God” dates back to the third or fourth century; the name was derived from the Greek “Theotokos,” or “God-bearer.” (CatholicCulture has a traditional perspective.) The Roman Catholic Church also used to mark the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ today—something Eastern Orthodox churches still observe, as well as other Christian denominations such as Lutherans—although today’s Circumcision Feast was fully replaced by Mary’s Feast in 1974 by Pope Paul VI.