Each year, the Church celebrates the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1. While it is a holy day of obligation most years, in 2024, it will not be a holy day of obligation. Therefore, the faithful in the United States are not required to attend Mass during this solemnity. This dispensation is granted when this specific solemnity falls on a Saturday or Monday.
Even so, all faithful who are able to attend Mass are still invited to do so or to join the universal Church by celebrating this important solemnity through prayer.
The solemnity of Mary, Mother of God dates back to the earliest days of the Church, which is also recognized as the Octave, or eighth day of Christmas. As the Second Vatican Council stated, “Clearly from earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honoured under the title of Mother of God.” The fact that it falls on the first day of the year is a beautiful means the Church gives us to usher in the New Year and bring honor to Our Lady.
In his Apostolic Letter Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI explained: “This celebration, placed on January 1 …is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the ‘holy Mother…through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life.’ It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewing adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels (cf. Lk. 2:14), and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace.”
The Code of Canon Law (1246 § 2) declares that an Episcopal Conference “can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday” with the required approval of the Apostolic See.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided to eliminate the obligation to attend Mass when the solemnities of January 1 (Mary, Mother of God), August 15 (The Assumption) and November 1 (All Saints Day) fell on Saturday or Monday. The Holy See approved this decree on July 4, 1992.