Sunday, December 14, 2008


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. We welcome you back to our 25 Days Of Christmas, and today I shall share with you the origins of the Twelve Days Of Christmas. Many people think of Christmas as being only one day, but history has shown that the Christmas season was actually celebrated for a much longer period than just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as it is now. The end of the year is a special time, and in my opinion, it does deserve a bit longer.

The Twelve Days Of Christmas is the period from the evening of December 25th, Christmas Day, to the morning of Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. The Christ child is reputed to have been born on the 25th, with the Magi, or Three Wise Men, arriving twelve days later to present their gifts to Him. Over the centuries, different sects and strains of the Christian faith have changed the traditions and timeframe, causing several other holy days to be celebrated during this time as well. December 26 or 27 (depending on whether your church is Western or Eastern) has been known as St. Stephen's day, or the Feast Of Stephen, in which the first Christian martyr is celebrated. In other countries, the 26th is also known as Boxing Day, which stems from the tradition of feudal lords giving boxes of useful goods and food to their serfs after Christmas celebrations, as well as the tradition of masters rewarding workers with a "Christmas box" which was filled with money through the season and then shattered after Christmas Day, with the contents being shared among the workers. December 28th is known as Childermas, or the Feast Of The Innocents, which commemorates the massacre of innocent children by King Herod in an attempt to rid himself of the threat of the Christ child. These children are considered the first martyrs of Jesus Christ.

The Twelve Days have been celebrated in different ways through the centuries. In the Middle Ages, the period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, climaxing on Twelfth Night, the end of the Christmas season. In Colonial America, the colonists brought some of these traditions to their new country, such as the making of evergreen wreaths decorated with available fruits for Christmas Eve, which were hung on the doors of houses as a decoration. The colonists would also bake a special cake for Epiphany, which is now known as the "King Cake" that we see around Mardi Gras.

There is, of course, the song called "The Twelve Days Of Christmas," which lists a long series of repeated gifts for Christmas on each of the Twelve Days. The specific origins of this song are not known, but it is thought to have some relation to a Twelve Days celebration. It is considered that perhaps it was a counting-game played during the Twelfth-Night celebration, in which a leader would recite a verse and others would repeat it, with the leader adding a verse each round. Those who failed to recite the verses properly would be required to pay a forfeit, such as offering a kiss or a sweet. At any rate, PNC Financial Services has maintained the yearly custom of calculating the cost of the gifts given by the True Love over all twelve verses of the song, including all repetitions and hiring costs of the various lords, ladies, drummers and so forth involved. In 2007, the total cost of this little twelve-day gifting spree was a whopping $78,100.

The Twelve Days are not celebrated widely today, due to more Americanized and secular traditions taking hold. But some people still celebrate them, giving gifts, feasting and celebrating the entire time through to the Epiphany. These days, the Twelve Days and Epiphany also serve to mark the coming of another important festival--that, of course, being Mardi Gras. Perhaps you may wish to mark this holiday season by reflecting, upon each of these Twelve Days, what good things may be found that day to celebrate, and what good things the future shall hold as you approach the Epiphany.

We wish all of our readers the best in this holiday season, and do join us tomorrow for more holiday surprises within The MonsterGrrls' 25 Days Of Christmas.

Warmest Regards,
Bethany Ruthven