Circumcision, Festival of The

Circumcision, Festival Of The,

a festival celebrated in the Roman and English churches on the 1st of January, in commemoration of the circumcision of Christ. After the introduction of the festival of Christmas, the 1st of January was distinguished as octava natalis Domini, the octave of the nativity, as Christ was circumcised on the eighth day. "At first it was observed rather as a day of humiliation than of feasting; and this was designed to mark the difference between the manners of Christians and those of the heathen, who celebrated the kalends of January, as the chief day of their saturnalia, with great licentiousness" (Farrar, s.v.). The festival originated, probably, in the 7th century. — Siegel, Handbuch d. kirchlich-christlichen Alterthiimer, 1, 207, and references there.

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