The Twelve Days of Christmas, is a festive Christian season to celebrate the nativity of Jesus.
The commercial calendar has encouraged an erroneous assumption that the Twelve Days end on Christmas Day and must therefore begin on 14 December.
In most Western Church traditions the day after Christmas is the First of the Tweve Days. The last is Celebrated on the Epiphany – January 6th.
Hence the 12 Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas
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The Twelve Days of Christmas Explained
The traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely forgotten in the United States. Contributing factors include the popularity of stories by Charles Dickens in nineteenth-century America (with their emphasis on generous gift-giving), introduction of more secular traditions over the past two centuries (such as the American Santa Claus), and the rise in popularity of New Year’s Eve parties. The first day of Christmas actually terminates the Christmas marketing season for merchants, as shown by the number of “after-Christmas sales” that launch on 26 December.
Many Christians still celebrate the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas according to their traditions.
Celebrants observing the Twelve Days may give gifts on each of them, with each day of the Twelve Days representing a wish for a corresponding month of the new year. They feast and otherwise celebrate the entire time through Epiphany morning.
As in olden days, Twelfth Night to Epiphany morning is then the traditional time to take down the Christmas tree and decorations.
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