January 1 is New Year's Day to most of the world, but in the Catholic Church it is also the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.  This is a relatively new title for the day.  Older Catholics will remember that we used to call January 1, the Feast of the Circumcision.

Circumcision may not seem like much to have a feast about.  But the day commemorated an event in the life of Jesus, just as we have days for his conception, birth, presentation in the temple', baptism, transfiguration, death, and resurrection.  Luke specifically mentions the circumcision of Jesus (2:2 1).  It took place, according to the custom, on the eighth day after his birth.  That is why the feast commemorating the event fell on the eighth day of Christmas.  It just happened to be New Year's Day.


The same passage from Luke says Jesus then received his name.  That is why the old calendar celebrated the Most Holy Name of Jesus on the Sunday between the feasts of the Circumcision and the Epiphany. (If no Sunday intervened, the feast occurred. on January 2.)

In present times the Gospel passage for January 1 still refers to the Circumcision, but the new title for the feast seems to have another verse in mind, Luke 2:19.  There we hear that Mary treasured all the things that happened and the words that were said and pondered them in her heart.  On the octave day of the birth of Jesus, we celebrate Mary, who bore him.

On January I we are also expected to pray for world peace.  In the United States, this day is a holy day of obligation unless it falls on a Monday or a Saturday.