Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The 12 Days of Christmas


Well the gifts are all unwrapped, the bellies stuffed and the carols sung. Now begins Christmas. A while ago someone left a comment wanting to know what Epiphany was, because I had mentioned that I leave my tree up until then, - gradually taking all my decorations down, but leaving the tree for last - for Epiphany.

Anyone who grew up in a liturgical religious tradition probably knows all about Advent, the Feast of St. Stephens, the feast of the Holy Innocents and Epiphany. I however grew up protestant and therefore only knew a little about Advent and nothing of the other 3. Over the last few years - through a variety of circumstances and books (mostly by Phyllis Tickle) - I gained exposure to what is called "the Liturgical Calender" and the additional feast, holidays and touchstones of our faith that are celebrated all over the world and all during the year.

2 years ago we began to integrate some of these new -to-us traditions into our Christmas celebrations, adding a little more to them each year since. To me, these 12 days after Christmas is when I really have the chance to soak in all that Christmas really is and what it really means - "the night that the world began again." To me Christmas Eve is the beginning of the New Year, more than Dec. 31st or Jan 1 has ever been. The gift making/buying is over, the cookies have been baked, the decorations put out, the parties held. Now is when I can sit back, turn off all the lights late at night, look at my glowing tree and reflect on the year that has just past and the year that is to come.I slowly put all the gifts away over the course of these 12 days, restoring order and rhythm to our home. We finish off the leftovers, catch up with friends back from family visits and celebrate New Years, usually quietly; maybe with friends, maybe with family, maybe just us.

By the time Epiphany has arrived the kids are usually back in school, so I have the house all to myself as I pack up the last of the ornaments and strip the tree of her finery, putting it all away until next year when Advent comes again.
It is truly my favorite time of the year.

The following excerpts are from this article which gives more even more information on the actual 12 Days of Christmas. If you are the least bit curious I would encourage you to read it...

The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and for nearly a month Christians await the coming of Christ in a spirit of expectation, singing hymns of longing. Then, on December 25, Christmas Day itself ushers in twelve days of celebration, ending only on January 6 with the feast of the Epiphany....
on Epiphany (January 6), the celebration of Christmas comes to an end. "Twelfth Night" (as all lovers of Shakespeare know) is the ultimate celebration of Christmas madness (Shakespeare's play features one of his many "wise fools" who understand the real meaning of life better than those who think they are sane). Epiphany commemorates the beginning of the proclamation of the gospel—Christ's manifestation to the nations, as shown in three different events: the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the turning of water into wine. In the Western tradition, the Magi predominate..."

4 comments:

  1. April8:34 AM

    Thank you for the information!! I will check out the books you listed and see what else I can find out about it. Thank you again!!!

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  2. Great minds think alike!!! Happy relaxing my friend, and thanks for my first comment. :)
    Love ya!!

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  3. thanks for posting that! I had actually googled "advent" earlier in the month because I had no idea what it was all about.

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  4. i just finished the winter stories book by p. tickle last night...and i loved it! a renewed love for these days after christmas, for sure...the quiet, the not needing to leave my house (or my couch)...thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

ok, really. tell me the truth... do these comments make me look fat?

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