Contrary to popular belief, Christmas does not simply come and go on December 25 after a long, frenzied shopping season that seems to start earlier and earlier each year. Christmas actually begins on that day and runs through the evening of January 5 (also called “Twelfth Night”) — thus the twelve days of Christmas.
So . . . why are we pulling down our Holiday decorations and putting away our Christmas CDs so soon?
According to the traditional liturgical (or Church) calendar, Christmas is actually a season lasting twelve days beginning on December 25 that goes back to ancient times.
It’s anticipated by the season of Advent and followed by the season of Epiphany (January 6 is when the Orthodox, or Eastern Christians actually celebrate “Christmas”, or the birth of Christ and the coming of the Wise Men), and in the traditional Church, each day of Christmas has a special meaning. Those things “my true love gave to me” in the song have some symbolism related to those twelve days.
Ha! And you thought the Twelve Days of Christmas was just some irritating song that people insist on singing at holiday parties and elementary school functions about some fictional “true love” who lays all these useless gifts on her lover.
Over the past several days I’ve been posting on my Passion for Life Facebook page an image and inspirational/motivational quote based on each of these twelve days and the “true love’s” gifts, You might enjoy check them out.
There actually are those who are going against common modern practice and finding the advantages and joy in celebrating the twelve days. Molly Ziegler Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, writes an interesting article on how doing so has changed her entire experience of the Christmas season in “Let’s Bring Back the 12 Days of Christmas“.