Table of Contents
- Finding Time to Pray
- Christmas Eve Prayer
- St. Andrew’s Novena
- Christmas Prayer
- Christmas Blessings
- Christmas Dinner Prayers
- Christmas Music
- Christmas Prayer FAQ
The Incarnation changes everything.
At the root of the holiday season, sometimes buried beneath the well-intentioned array of lights, decorations and wrapping paper, remains the single transformational moment that we celebrate.
Jesus being born.
God entering our world.
That night in Bethlehem, in a humble manger, remains so awe-inspiring, that it’s difficult to imagine it ever being forgotten or overlooked during the holidays.
And then our calendars begin to fill up.
Holiday parties. School concerts. Cookie baking. Card writing.
It’s not uncommon for Catholics who appreciate and embrace the “reason for the season” to get swept up into the trappings of Christmastime.
And no days are busier than Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Finding Time to Pray on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Even if you’ve remained devoted to prayer throughout Advent, when December 24 and 25 arrive, it can be difficult to find time to spend with God on Christmas.
This feels especially true when attending a Christmas Eve Mass, which seems to become more popular each year, particularly for families with young children. Once Mass is checked off the proverbial holiday To Do list by attending a late afternoon liturgy on Christmas Eve, there’s nothing standing in the way of the full pageantry of the festivities.
Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas morning gifts. Phone calls with family. The scramble to find just the right batteries for the new toy that Santa left. And with any luck, a nap.
Missing from the list? Christmas prayer.
By 4 p.m. on Christmas Day, it can feel like an eternity has passed since the Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It shouldn’t be that way. The Incarnation is too important to remain on the sidelines once everyone piles into the car to head home from church.
There are small ways and simple prayers to help keep the true meaning of Christmas at the center of your holiday celebration on Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve Eve, and Christmas Day itself.
Christmas Eve Prayer
Christmas Eve is filled with anticipation. And distractions. A simple prayer before bed can be a nice way to close the day, refocus on the birth of Jesus and connect the day that’s passed with the big upcoming celebration come morning.
The Christmas Eve prayer attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish poet and author from the 19th century, remains a popular choice:
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.
Other, more simple Christmas Eve prayers also capture the significance of the occasion:
- “Heavenly Father, we thank You for this day and the many blessings You’ve given us. Grant us a restful night of sleep as we await the celebration of the birth of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.”
- “Dear God, we know that the greatest give we ever receive is Jesus. May we remember that tomorrow, and may any presents under the tree remind us of our life’s biggest blessing. Amen.”
St. Andrew’s Novena (Christmas Anticipation Prayer)
Another common prayer leading up to Christmas is the St. Andrew’s Novena, also known as the Christmas Anticipation Prayer:
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires (mention your intentions here), through the merits of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother.
The St. Andrew’s Novena is available in the Hallow app now. Download the app and start praying!
On Christmas morning, what’s more important than Santa entering our home is God entering our hearts.
Begin the day in Christmas prayer by considering spending time with Scripture.
The Synoptic gospels of Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (2:1-20) give us traditional accounts of the birth of Jesus. The first chapter of John’s gospel also portrays the powerful story of the Incarnation.
If you’re looking for a prayer to offer privately or to say with family to begin the day, consider the words given to us by current and former popes:
“On this day of joy, we are all called to contemplate the Child Jesus, who gives hope once again to every person on the face of the earth. By his grace, let us with our voices and our actions give witness to solidarity and peace. Merry Christmas to all!”Pope Francis, Christmas 2016
“The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen.”Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas 2012
“And you, Mary, the Virgin of expectation and fulfilment, who hold the secret of Christmas, make us able to recognize in the Child whom you hold in your arms the heralded Saviour, who brings hope and peace to all. With you we worship him and trustingly say: we need You, Redeemer of man, You who know the hopes and fears of our hearts. Come and stay with us, Lord! May the joy of your Nativity reach to the farthest ends of the universe!”Pope John Paul II, Christmas 2003
Shorter Christmas prayers also help keep the sacredness of the day:
- “Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, whose entry into our world we celebrate today. Fill our hearts with the peace that only He provides. Amen.”
- “Our hearts are on fire today with love of You, o Lord. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we pray for the strength and courage to share the love that we feel today, tomorrow and each day, with those who need it most, helping to build Your kingdom here on earth. Amen.”
- “God, thank You for this day and for the love shared by all gathered here. We remain eternally grateful for the gift of Jesus into our world, and we pray that our eyes be opened to the ways in which He continues to be active in our lives, blessing us each and every day. Amen.”
Sometimes our most common prayers are the mini Christmas blessings we offer when we extend holiday greetings to friends and family.
In today’s modern Christmases, these blessings often take the form of a text or Facebook message. Indeed, technology can be extraordinarily helpful in sharing Christmas joy and drawing closer to God.
The simple Christmas blessing of “Merry Christmas” is the most common way to offer a prayerful sentiment to someone at Christmas, whether done digitally or verbally.
Don’t feel restricted in how you can extend Christmas wishes to others. Additional ways to offer short Christmas blessings include:
- Saying Merry Christmas in another language:
- Feliz Navidad (Spanish)
- Buon natale (Italian)
- Feliz Natal (Portuguese)
- Wesołych Świąt (Polish)
- Focusing on the joy of the day
- “Wishing you a truly joyous Christmas”
- “May you enjoy a joy-filled day celebrating Jesus’ birth”
- “May God bless you on this beautiful Christmas Day”
- Offering up your prayer for others
- “Be assured of my prayers for you and your family on this beautiful day”
- “Praying for you on this wonderful Christmas day!”
- Connecting with others who may not celebrate Christmas
- “Thinking of you and hoping your day is filled with love and peace”
- “Best wishes to you and all of your loved ones on this special day”
The most important element to any Christmas blessing is the sincerity with which one offers it. The words matter less than your heart, and no one is likely to judge you if you go slightly off script or miss a word.
Christmas Dinner Prayer
Christmas is similar to Thanksgiving in that it’s customary to enjoy a large, once-a-year-type of a meal.
The food on the menu varies by culture, and in some traditions, Christmas Eve is the night of the large dinner celebration (the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes is a well-known example of this.)
Whether your family prepares a feast on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or just enjoys a simple meal filled with fellowship, saying a prayer at dinner centers the gathering on the meaning of the occasion: the birth of Jesus.
Here are options for Christmas dinner prayers:
- “Dear God, we thank you for everyone gathered here this evening, for the food we will enjoy, and for the love we all share. We give thanks this day for the birth of our Savior. In His name we pay. Amen.”
- “Heavenly Father, bless this food and bless this meal. Since Jesus came into our world and delivered us salvation, we rejoice in the promise of salvation and pray that our fellowship today brings us deeper into communion with You. We ask this as we ask all things, through Christ, our Lord. amen.
- “God, recently, our days have been joy-filled yet busy. Occasionally, we get distracted from the true meaning of Christmas. As we gather here tonight, in this quiet moment, we feel your loving embrace. We are filled with gratitude for this meal, this fellowship, and all the blessings you give us. Amen.”
Christmas Music (Christian Christmas Songs)
There’s an old Catholic saying: “To sing is to pray twice.” Usually, the phrase is used to encourage bashful churchgoers to lend their voice to the liturgy. However, it speaks to the very real idea of our ability to encounter God through song.
The Christmas season has no shortage of dedicated music, performed by all sorts of musicians across different generations.
Not all Christmas music overtly references the actual meaning of Christmas. And that’s OK. It can be fun and catchy during a car ride or at a holiday party. But on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, more traditional Christian hymns better reflect the religious significance of the holiday.
Christmas music can also be a very convenient way to add worship to your day. Play it while you’re decorating presents, wrapping gifts, working in the kitchen or simply playing softly in the background on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
So this year, skip “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bells” and instead, enjoy some of the following Christian Christmas songs (both traditional and contemporary) whenever the occasion allows:
- “Silent Night”
- “O Holy Night”
- “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
- “The First Nowell”
- “Joy to the World”
- “Mary, Did You Know?”
Hallow also offers 45 minutes of beautiful Christmas music instrumentals courtesy of Sean Beeson:
Common Questions About Christmas Prayers and Blessings
Ultimately, a good Christmas prayer is any prayer that helps us draw closer to God amid the business of the holiday.
Yes. It’s great to pray at home during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but Catholics should attend Mass, too. Christmas Day (“the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ”) is a Holy Day of Obligation.
Acknowledge their loss and offer sincere, positive wishes. “I know you’ve been through a lot. Wishing you comfort and peace during this Christmas season.” Most importantly, don’t ignore them altogether or gloss over their loss.
The best advice for writing Christmas wishes is to be sincere in your sentiments without assuming to know if or how anyone else will (or won’t) be celebrating the holidays.
After the salutation, simply extend your wishes of a joyous Christmas season to the recipient. The exact words matter less than the sentiment and thoughtfulness.
- Thanksgiving Prayer
- Prayers for New Years
- The Rosary
- The Seven Sorrows Rosary
- The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)
- The St. Thérèse Novena
- Mary, Undoer of Knots Novena
- Divine Mercy Novena