Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Has Only Just Begun!

Card by Paperless Post, Posted by Design Milk

What's that you say? Today, December 26, is the day AFTER Christmas??

And it's time to take down the tree, box up the decorations, and call it good for another year??

No way. We aren't done with Christmas! In fact, we are just getting started!

Card by Rifle Paper Co., Photo from Sweet Iced Tea

The truth is that Christmas is, just as the song says, a Twelve Day festival of feasting and celebration. Over the centuries, the details of the tradition have shifted and changed a bit, but the modern conception goes something like this:

  • December 25 is the First Day of Christmas, not the last. It is recognized as the day Baby Jesus was born.
  • The Twelve Days of feasting and celebration go through to January 5, which is known as Twelfth Night. This time parallels the period that newborn Jesus and his parents spent in Bethlehem, resting up after his birth and sharing the joyous news of his coming with the world.
  • January 6 is recognized in Western Christianity as Three Kings Day - the day in which those wise men from the east finally pulled into Bethlehem and found the newborn Jesus. In some cultures, this festival day sits as a bookend to Christmas Day, equally if not more lavishly celebrated.

In the United States, the concept of the Twelve Days of Christmas has largely fallen from favor. To tell you the truth, I think that is a crying shame. For the past decade or so, I've been working on bringing back the Twelve Days of Christmas at my house, and here are my Top Ten reasons why you bring them back at your house too:

Card by Hammersmith Kidney Patients' Association

10. Eleven extra days for Christmas music, food, decorations, and fun. Eleven times the fun of an ordinary, one-day Christmas!

9. Celebrations spread over twelve days can be more relaxed and casual, instead of crammed into one intense, over-packed and stressed-out day.

8. Santa and his generous if a bit materialistic focus on gifts can still be part of the festivities, but he takes a starring role on only one of the Twelve Days.

7. A Twelve-Day celebration connects the ending of one calendar year with the beginning of the next, providing for a satisfying sense of closure as well as new beginnings.

6. Theologically, celebrating the story of Jesus' birth over twelve days makes much more sense than trying to fit the whole narrative into a one-day holiday.

5. Since Christmas has historically been celebrated as a festival, bringing back the full Twelve Days is retro, old school and all hipster cool-like.

4. That sad, let-down, over-too-soon feeling that many of us experience on the evening of December 25 is replaced by a grateful, satisfied sense of completeness on January 6.

3. Once you get your house cleaned and all those cookies baked for the 25th, why not relax and enjoy your hard work for as long as possible?

2. You know all those packages and cards you neglected to send before December 25? As long as they arrive by January 6, they are now on time.

And the Number One reason why you should celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas:

1. Eleven more days to watch this ridiculously silly yet earnestly heartwarming version of the classic song.

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P.S. If you still need some inspiration, check out all the Twelve Days Of Christmas images I'm posting over on beautiful!

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