A Question about Christmas Mass/Service from the guy raised jewish

In the Jewish religion, many services have added components or altered components if the day that service is read happens to fall on a Friday. ( Friday evening to Saturday evening is the Jewish Sabbath ).

Are there analagous changes in other religions in and around Christmas? Obviously Easter Sunday IS always on a Sunday, but Christmas is date-related. Does a Roman Catholic Christmas service, or any other Christian Christian service, have any added or deleted or altered material that is spoken or sung, because this year, Christmas is actually on a Sunday?

One cautionary note- this is G.Q. for a reason. I would like hard answers, please. This isn’t The Pit or IMHO, so let’s contribute what we know as fact, and set aside any debates about what religion is or is not Christian, who might or might not do what, etc.

In short, I seek the Straight Dope on this one. :slight_smile:


It has been a while since I have attended a Catholic Christmas service, but I don’t think the service changes because Christmas is on a Sunday this year. I believe there are “extras” thrown into the mass, but that’s because it’s Christmas, not because it’s Sunday.

Roman Catholic services change very very little, but they change.

The ‘readings’ (always part of the service) are likely to be about the birth of Christ.

When the priest does the liturgy/speech, same thing. It is not so much hard-set rule as it is the priest using his judgement. It changes with the headlines as well. Heck, even the readings from scripture can change with the headlines.

Songs/hymns are seasonal. The church will be decorated with seasonal holiday plants/flowers, but don’t expect anything tacky in form of lights, etc.

3 Collections. I’m a Roman Catholic and I’m not being snarky. Honest.

  1. Regular Sunday Collection.
    2, Offering for Christmas
    3, Christmas Gift for Capital improvements

Also, in regular Sunday Masses we frequently read aloud the Nicene Creed, and at a certain point in this beautiful prayer, we bow. However there are times we are supposed to genuflect. I couldn’t remember when those times are, so recently, I asked a priest from another Catholic Church in town.

"Easter and Christmas, he said.

So this Easter I was prepared in my church to genuflect. We didn’t.

I wonder if we will on Sunday.

The Church of England also doesn’t have any major changes if Christmas falls on a Sunday; all that happens is that the various readings, prayers, etc, for Christmas Day replace those for a normal fourth Sunday in Advent. And rather more people will be in church tomorrow than usual. :slight_smile:

The Catholic Church has Eucharist in pretty much every Mass (minus special ones like the wedding of a Catholic and a non-Catholic or memorial services), so the form of the Mass doesn’t change if a holy day falls on a Sunday.

What does change is that the Obligation of Christmas coincides with the Obligation of Sabbath, so you don’t have to attend two Masses in the same week. This is also true of January 1st this year (which is both a Sunday and the Holy Day of Obligation The Solemnity of Mary).

This is likey regional.

Genuflecting is something we always did, each and every time in church, with or without services. I grew up in one of the largest Dioces (Philadelphia, PA -USA), three doors from the church and across the sreet from the rectory,. I was an alter boy and active in all things church. The church was like a hangout at times. Genuflecting was expected at all times.

One factor to keep in mind is that some Christian communities tend toward “liturgical” worship, in which readings, prayers, and some music are likely to be specified, while others emphasize “non-liturgical” worship which may be less predictable.
I’m a Lutheran; Lutheran worship, like Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican/Episcopalian worship, is often “liturgical.” But not always. Congregations will differ in how “liturgical” their worship is.
Bearing that in mind: in Lutheran liturgical worship, there’s a set pattern of worship which repeats week after week. It includes a number of options (prayers and canticles keyed to the season, for example.) Some form of this pattern would probably be used every Sunday, and may be used on Christmas; but it may also be replaced by (for example) a service of readings and Christmas carols.
To throw a curve into this: while there are readings and prayers set for every Sunday, there is not a set of readings for the Sunday on which Christmas falls. This is because the calendar of readings and prayers is keyed to Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, rather than to dates on the calendar.
So: we have readings and prayers for the four Sundays before Christmas. (Advent). We also have readings for the Sundays which follow Christmas; “The First Sunday after Christmas,” and so on. But almost by definition there are no readings or prayers other than those for Christmas assigned to a Sunday Christmas may actually fall on.
Is this helpful?

Yep. Every time we crossed in front of the tabernacle. Central PA, 1970s-1980s.

And my mother’s generation even extended that to crossing yourself if you passed the tabernacle outside the church, for instance if you’re walking or driving in front of the church and cross the line of the tabernacle, you cross yourself.


I was talking with a guy I know in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, and he complained about the high price of… Hannukah? Yom Kippur? Rosh Hashanna? Some Jewish holiday around this time of year anyway. He said he was ‘shopping for a synagogue’, apparently looking for a good price for attending services.

Is ‘Pay To Pray’ a common feature of Jewish Winter Holiday services? Or is it just in large cities with a large Jewish population? What if you can’t afford it (or if you just don’t think you should pay to pray)? Will they refuse entry? I could understand that it’s bad form to be able to afford to attend a service, but what if you can’t afford it?


Close but no cigar. There are always four Sundays in Advent, and they always are the four Sundays immediately before Christmas, even if the 4th Sunday falls on Christmas Eve. In this case, last Sunday was the 4th Sunday in Advent.

Customarily, Anglican/Episcopal churches of any size have a Christmas Eve service in the evening and a Christmas Day service in the morning, the latter generally rather sparsely attended, most people attending the Eve service. Christmas Day is one of the three “fixed” feasts that supersede anything else falling on that day, according to the ECUSA Book of Common Prayer. So Sunday’s service will be the Christmas Day service as per usual, but probably more “thickly” attended than the normal Christmas Day service.

Oh, and JFTR, here’s an excerpt from the rubrics:

Reasonable hijack, IMHO. Here’s the deal, at least with most if not all Reformed Temples. There is, as near as I have ever heard, no collection plate in Judaism. Instead, a yearly membership fee is charged for membership to the Temple. Additionally, because many not-so-observant Jews only attend services on the High Holidays ( the period beginning with Rosh Hashana and ending with the end of Yom Kippur ), a lot of Temples charge money for tickets to attend. Many chafe at this idea because it is clearly a pay-to-attend situation. ( I don’t like the “pay to pray” approach, because anyone can pray anywhere they wish, IMHO ). Others see it as a necessary part of running a business, and I think it is very fair to say that ever single religious entity out there is a business as well as a faith-based organization.

I used to really get steamed at this idea. When first in college, I still attended High Holidays services and was quite upset that I would be turned away because i was a Jew Away From Home. The fact is that any congregation I asked about told me point blank that kids away at college and so on are always gladly welcomed in for services. It is, in some part, a piece of Anti-Semitic Urban Legend ( A.S.U.L. :smiley: ) that lots of folks have heard that synogogues do Pay to Pray. The devil ( heh ) is in the details. Many Christian organizations pass a collection plate around. In the Reformed Jewish movement, this is how they go about paying to run the business side of things. -shrug- Different strokes for different folks. A good question, though.

To be fair, this is only my personal experience with the situation and if there are Jews out there who have been refused entrance during High Holiday Services because they either were not members, or hadn’t bought a ticket, I would like to hear those stories. Much better to hear something negative that is true about a religion, than to muddle on in mis-information and Urban Legend.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread, already in progress over many of your Straight Dope local affiliates. :slight_smile:

For us Mormons, the biggest change is that if Christmas falls on a Sunday, we have Sacrament service. If it falls on another day, there’s no service for it.