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Sundays OF Christmas?!

A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa 2020

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is (almost) unique in calling the Sundays at this time of year “Sundays OF Christmas”. There is a very good reason why no one else calls them Sundays “OF” Christmas. [OK, we are following Mother Church of England’s change to relatively recently changing ours to call them this, but I’ll return to that].

In the Easter Season, calling them Sundays “OF” Easter makes sense. Easter Day is always the First Sunday of Easter; there are always eight Sundays of Easter (The new NZPB2020, photo above, notwithstanding). But, in the Christmas Season, Christmas Day moves around the days of the week. So Christmas Day can be the “First Sunday of Christmas” – as was the case in 2016 and will be next in 2022. In a Sundays-OF-Christmas world, seven days later would be the “Second Sunday of Christmas” – BUT the proper (readings, collect) are NOT for the “Second Sunday of Christmas”!

New Zealand Lectionary booklet 2017

While the title (image above) is “2nd Sunday of Christmas”, the readings are those of the First Sunday (now to be found with the title “The First Sunday of Christmas” NZPB2020, page 562). The confusion is highlighted (image above) by having the title for the Collect differ from the title of the Sunday!

But wait, there’s more! In Liturgical Precedence (2014), “the liturgical provision for … The Naming of Jesus [January 1]…should not be displaced by any other celebration”. The 2017 NZ Lectionary booklet (image above), has ignored our own rule, and, instead, follows Mother Church of England which has:

The Second Sunday of Christmas
When the Festival of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus, falling on a Sunday, is transferred to Monday 2 January, the Sunday is kept as the Second Sunday of Christmas but the provision for the First Sunday of Christmas is used.

Common Worship Lectionary

We await Christmas Day falling on Sunday to see what the Anglican Church of Or does next.


If you want to read more about the new New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa 2020 (Sundays of Christmas is a change since the editions of the Prayer Book 1989-2005), here are previous posts:
1) how this book, in many ways, is maybe the book many might have hoped for in 1989,
2) how this book bears the same title as the 1989 book but has quite a different status, and
3) looking in some detail up to page 6, and
4) looking in some detail at The Calendar.


Whether you regard the Christmas Season as concluding on Christmas Day, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, Candlemas, the Sunday following Candlemas, or are Orthodox, or Armenian, and celebrate the Incarnation on another day and see the season differently… in the Southern Hemisphere, and certainly in Aotearoa-New Zealand, this is our go-slow time… posts may be less frequent than usual. Use the search box to find things of interest. Do check out:
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2 thoughts on “Sundays OF Christmas?!”

  1. Thanks Bosco – so has anyone come up with a solution which avoids the problem you describe, but also captures that Christmas isn’t yet over?

    1. Good question, Chris.
      I think a good way to do it is what The Episcopal Church does.
      It has a Christmas Season and terms the Sundays “after Christmas Day”:

      Christmas Season

      The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Christmas Day, December 25
      The First Sunday after Christmas Day
      The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, January 1
      The Second Sunday after Christmas Day

      Christmas Season Blessings.

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