Saturday, December 29, 2007

The 12 Days of Christmas

Most of us know “The Twelve Days of Christmas” only as an incredibly obnoxious Christmas novelty song. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the Jeff Foxworthy or Bob and Doug versions, in which case, most of us know “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as an incredibly awesome Christmas novelty song.

But that song had to gets its name from somewhere. The 12 days of Christmas is a very real concept, and despite our secular commercial culture, they are not the bright lights and shopping craze countdown of Dec. 14-Dec. 25. No, as any good Catholic or Anglican knows, Christmas is not just a single day, but the twelve-day-long season of the church calendar that begins on Dec. 25 and ends with Twelfth Night on Jan. 5. After that, on Jan. 6, comes Epiphany, the day the wise men arrived to see the Christ child. The traditional name is Christmastide, although sometimes the length is a bit longer than 12 days. Read the relevant Wikipedia articles here and here.

Why do I bring all this up? To make the point that Christmas doesn’t END on Dec. 25, it BEGINS on Dec. 25! So if you bump into me on the street and I’m whistling Adeste Fideles or The First Noel, DON’T tell me Christmas it’s over! Not until Epiphany, it isn’t!!!

Cling so tightly to the 12 days of Christmas is my pathetic little way of preventing that post-Christmas holidays-are-over depression. I love Christmas so much, and hats its end so much, that I even changed my flight plans to be sure I wouldn’t miss church on Sunday. It’s particularly tough this year, because we didn’t get our tree up until the 23rd, and that pine smell is what really puts me in the Christmas mood. I hate to think of a year where the Christmas season is only three days long. Admittedly, society doesn’t really whistle those tunes with me, and half the joy of Christmas is that it’s a time where almost everyone revels in the spirit. So perhaps my Christmas clinginess is a little desperate – but quite frankly, I don’t care. On this, the fifth day of Christmas, I say, enjoy your five flannel shirts!

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