The holiday season–what we generically just call Christmastime–is actually a long sequence of holy days, festal revelries, and liturgical rites stretching from the end of November through the beginning of January that are collectively known as Yuletide.
Beginning with Advent, a time of preparation and repentance, proceeding to Christmas, a time of celebration and generosity, and concluding with Epiphany, a time of remembrance and thanksgiving, Yuletide traditions enable us to see out the old year with faith and love while ushering in the new year with hope and joy. It is a season fraught with meaning and significance.
Unfortunately, it is also such a busy season that its meaning and significance can all too easily be obscured either by well-intended materialistic pursuits–frenzied shopping trips to the mall to find just the right Christmas gift–or by the less benign demands, desires, wants, and needs which are little more than grist for human greed. The traditions of Yuletide were intended to guard us against such things–and thus, are actually more relevant today than ever before.