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Merry Christ Mass | Deep mysteries of the Midnight Eve Liturgy

The Merry Christ title replaced the Christmas name in many American states. With this Merry Christ feast, all Christians celebrate the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who became man. The Incarnation of the Word of God marks the beginning of the “last times,” that is, the redemption of humanity by God. 

An ancient document, the Chronograph of the year 0354 A.D., attests to the existence in Rome of the Merry Christ Mass on December 25th, which corresponds to the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, “Natalis Solis Invicti,” that is the birth of the new sun which, after the longest night of the year, he regained new vigour.

Celebrating on this day the birth of the one who is the true Sun, the light of the world, which rises from the night of paganism, we wanted to give an entirely new meaning to a pagan tradition deeply felt by the people, since it coincided with the holidays of Saturn, during which enslaved people received gifts from their masters and were invited to sit at the same table as free citizens. However, the Christmas presents more directly recall the heritage of the shepherds and the Magi to the Child Jesus.

What is the Merry Christ Mass?

Always called midnight mass, the Merry Christ Mass of December 24 is celebrated in the early evening (usually at 7 p.m.) in all Catholic parishes.

The Merry Christ Mass is an extraordinary feast that celebrates the birth of baby Jesus every Christmas. You don’t need to be a churchgoer to enjoy this event, reminding us that Christmas is a religious holiday before the feast of gifts.

The midnight mass is a celebration that takes place like the others: entrance songs, readings from the Bible, sermon (explanation of the texts) by the priest, and the Eucharist. Midnight Mass also begins with the procession and placement of the infant Jesus in the Christmas nativity scene, whether a statue or, in the case of a live nativity scene, a genuine newborn.

Representation of the Merry Christ Mass in the Vatican

merry christ mass


When is the Merry Christ Mass?

The Merry Christ Mass is one of the twelve princely holidays, considered the third most important, after the Feast of the Resurrection and Pentecost. The time at which the Merry Christ Mass Service is held differs, depending on how the Archdiocese, parishes, the priest of a particular church, or tradition have decided, in other words, “as many houses, as many customs.” 

The Merry Christ Mass takes place from December 24 to 25. Merry Christ Mass represents the service when Christians go to church. The Merry Christ Mass service is a tradition, like an amen after reading the Bible, and after many years of repetition, it has stuck and also h. Also, it has a permanent part of the Christian’s relationship with the church.

Since 1992, the law has stipulated that a service must be held on Merry Christmas Eve. More than 10.000 churches in the United States usually hold high mass on Sundays. Almost every year, it will be a normal human average in the morning and a unique Christmas service later in the evening.

What time is the Merry Christ Mass?

The anticipation of the Merry Christ Mass makes the Christmas atmosphere even more gloomy. Still, it offers us the opportunity to conduct a little research on the roots of this tradition that has lasted for at least 1500 years. The three Masses of Christmas day, “night-dawn-day,” correspond to the triple birth of Christ, as St. Thomas Aquinas writes in the ” Summa Theologica “: his eternal and divine birth, illustrated by the Midnight Mass, and his spiritual and corporal birth celebrated by the two other masses.

Traditionally the Merry Christ Mass takes place at midnight, but several churches celebrate it around 11 p.m. Ask your parish for the exact time.

Starting from the Early Middle Ages, without knowing its exact origin, the practice of a nocturnal celebration appears on the night between 24/25 December, which the Pope adopts, and the Roman people. Also, it takes the name ” Midnight Mass. ” Symbolically, the celebration of God-made man thus begins by illustrating the victory of the day overnight, of life over death. In our case, He is the true Sun who comes to this world to defeat the darkness. The Holy Scripture recites: “ The people who walked in darkness saw a great light; a light shone upon those who dwelt in a hazy land of the shadows of death ”(Isaiah, 9, 1).

What is the name of the Christmas Mass?

Talking about Christmas Mass also means referring to the date of Christmas, December 25, which has not always been like this. In fact, in the first two centuries – when the Church still did not have complete freedom of worship, and therefore the celebrations could not be organised freely – the date was not yet the same for all places: in the East, some celebrated Christmas on May 20, others on April 20 or November 17. But now, let’s find out the name of the Christmas Mass.

The name of the Christmas Mass was born in 0336 A.D and is called “The Christmas Night Mass” or even “Merry Christ Mass.”

In 336 AD, the ” Depositio Martyrum ” was written, the first attempt at a liturgical calendar. It is expressly stated that in Rome, the feast of Christmas was celebrated on 25 December. The same news can be found in the Chronograph of the year 354 AD. : “ Die Octavo ante Kalendas Ianuarias natus Christus in Bethlehem Iudeae,” December 25th.

When does the Pope’s blessing take place?

Pope Francis always celebrates Christmas Eve Mass, on December 24, at 21:30. This was reported by the Vatican information portal, reporting the calendar of celebrations presided over by Bergoglio for the Christmas period. 

The Pope’s blessing during the Merry Christ Mass is called the “Urbi et Orbi” and takes place at 00:00 on December 25th.

On Friday 31st, the Pope will preside over First Vespers and the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the past year in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 pm. On the first day of the new year, the 55th World Day of Peace and Solemnity of Mary’s Most Holy Mother of God, the Pope presides over Mass at 10 am, and on January 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany is always at 10 am. Therefore, on January 9, in the Chapel Sistina, at 9.30, Francis will preside over some children’s Mass and Baptism. 

How to attend Merry Christ Mass at the Vatican?

The birth of a child is the greatest joy in life, “this is Christmas.” The Pope celebrates mass on Merry Christmas Eve worldwide, but in the Vatican is something extraordinary. “On this night, the great prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: ‘A child is born for us, a child has been given to us.’ It is often said that the greatest joy in life is the birth of a child.

If you want to attend the most amazing Merry Christ Mass, you must request tickets (free but rare) from the website of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household of the Vatican. You will have more information on this page: Vatican. VA 

The Merry Christ Mass at the Vatican is something extraordinary. Which changes everything, sets in motion unexpected energies, and overcomes fatigue, discomfort, and sleepless wakefulness. Because it brings indescribable happiness, in front of which nothing weighs more. So, this is the joy of Merry Christ Mass: the birth of Jesus is the novelty that allows us every year to be reborn within or find in him the strength to face every trial. Yes, because His birth is for us: for me, you, and each”.  

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merry christ mass

Is the feast of Merry Christ just a repeating holiday?

All of us are therefore called to ask ourselves questions about the true meaning of this moment, and the fundamental question is: the celebration of the birth of Jesus is “only” an event linked to the past and tradition, or is it something also rooted and especially in the present?

The feast of Merry Christ is not just a repeating holiday but is a holiday in which Christians celebrate the eve of the day of Christmas or the Nativity of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on the night of December 24, as the Christian Church officially establishes December 25 as the Merry Christ Mass or the day of Jesus’ birth.

So, to deeply understand this, we may have to free and purify our hearts so that we can be more available and ready for love for the family and our neighbours. In summary, is the feast of Merry Christ for Christians sincere and pure love that you can and must give everyone? We leave you to this deep reflection with yourselves. A review may be the key to giving you more life in this particular period for Christians and beyond.

The Merry Christ Mass in order

The liturgical colour of the Merry Christ Mass: white


So, the Lord told me: “You are my Son, indeed that today I have begotten you.” (Ps 2.7)


Let us all rejoice in the Lord
that the Savior was born into the world.
Indeed, today true peace has come down to us from heaven.


O God, who illuminated this holiest night
with the splendour of Christ, the true light of the world,
grant us, who on earth contemplate him in his mysteries,
to participate in his glory in heaven.
For our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who is God indeed,
and lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
forever and ever.

First Reading

We have been given a son. From the book of the prophet Isaiah
Is 9: 1-6

Therefore, the people who walked in darkness
saw great light;
on those who dwelt in the land of darkness
a light shone.
You have multiplied the joy,
you have increased satisfaction.
Therefore, they rejoice before you
as they rejoice when they reap
and as they rejoice when they divide their prey.
Because you broke the yoke that oppressed him,
the bar on his shoulders,
and also the stick of his tormentor,
as in the day of Midian.
Because every soldier’s shoe that rumbled along
and every cloak soaked in blood
will be burned, fed to the fire.

Because a child was born for us,
a child was given to us.
On his shoulders is power
and his name will be:
Admirable Counselor, Mighty God,
Father forever, Prince of Peace.
Great will be his power
over him, and also peace will have no end
on David’s throne and his kingdom,
which he comes to consolidate and strengthen
with right and also justice, now and forever.
Indeed, this will do the zeal of the Lord of hosts. 

Responsorial Psalm
From Ps 95 (96)

So, today the Savior was born for us. Sing the Lord a new song,
Praise the Lord, men of all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name. R.

Announce his salvation day by day.
Amid the nations tell of his glory,
to all peoples tell the wonders of him. R.

Let the heavens rejoice, the earth rejoice, let the
sea resound and also all it contains;
And let the countryside and everything in it cheer; let all the trees of the forest cheer. R.

Before the Lord who comes:
yes, he comes to judge the earth;
he will judge the world with justice
and the people in his faithfulness. R.

Second Reading

God’s grace has appeared for all men. From the letter of St Paul the Apostle to Titus
Tt 2: 11-14

Indeed, My son, the grace of God appeared, which brings salvation to all men and teaches us to deny impiety and worldly desires and live in this world with sobriety—with justice and also pity, waiting for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He also gave himself up for us to redeem us from every iniquity and to form a pure people who belong to him, full of zeal for good works.

Acclamation to the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia.

I announce to you a great joy:
Today a Savior,
Christ, the Lor, is born for you. (Cf. Lk 2: 10-11)



Today a saviour is delivered to you.

From the Gospel, according to Luke
2: 1-14

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord enveloped them in light. They were seized with great fear, but the angel said to them: “Do not be afraid: behold, I announce to you a great joy, which will be of all the people: today, in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you, who is Christ.

This is the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger ». And immediately, a multitude of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and also saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to men, whom he loves.” 

On offers

Accept, O Father, our offering
in this night of light, and through this exchange
of gifts transform us into Christ your Son,
who, indeed, raised man beside you in glory.
For Christ our Lord.

Antiphon to communion

The Word became flesh, and
we saw his glory. (Jn 1:14)           

Today a saviour is born in the city of David,

who is Christ the Lord? (Lk 2:11)   

After communion

O God, who has called us to celebrate
the birth of the Redeemer in joy,
let us bear witness in life to the announcement of salvation,
to reach the glory of heaven.
For Christ our Lord.


Therefore, for a faithful Christian, Merry Christ night is an opportunity to celebrate the sacredness of the family, referring to and observing the holy family made up of Mary, Joseph, and little Jesus. This is when, with greater awareness and attention, the family can finally be placed at the vital centre of society.