Christmas Is NOT over just yet.
I know for many many people Christmas seems to begin on the evening of Thanksgiving and ends on the evening of Christmas. If I started celebrating Christmas that early, I’d be way past done with it, too!
What amazes me though is that so many people seem to think that the 12 days of Christmas begin 12 days before December 25 and end on December 25. Nope. Lots of people do Christmas countdowns (we do!) but the actual 12 days of Christmas begins on December 25 and ends on January 5 and Theophany (Epiphany) is on January 6th.
When I was growing up we put the Christmas tree up a week to 10 days before Christmas and it stayed up at least until the Saturday after New Year’s Day. We didn’t exactly celebrate for 12 days but there was the acknowledgement that this wonderful feast was longer than just 1 day and that it didn’t begin until December 25. (Though I will point out that liturgically it begins at Vespers, the evening service, on December 24 because liturgical days begin at sun down)
When my husband was active duty military, he often experienced MORE time off at Christmas. And we now have a tradition in our family that daddy takes off from Dec 24 until at least January 2nd. This becomes family time. Being able to stretch out the holiday keeps the stress levels down.
We’ve been blessed for the last several Christmases to be able to spend time on Christmas day with family (some relatives, some church family). Because Christmas doesn’t have to all be squeezed into one day and my husband is home we can do our own little just us Christmas.
So what does it look like for us to celebrate for 12 days? What does celebrating for 12 days mean? Well it doesn’t mean fancy dinners every day or opening presents every day. Though we’ve been known to have a couple of nicer meat rich dinners (traditionally Orthodox Christians abstain from meat, dairy and wine during advent, so we tend to make sure we have lots of stuff like cream cheese, whipped cream, beef and pork around here. Oh and butter. REAL butter )
Having 12 days means we don’t stress out if all the cookies aren’t baked before December 25. It means that we listen to Christmas music while we hang out and munch on Christmas goodies. It means hanging out in comfortable clothes, or jammies. (I’m typing this up in my jammies. It’s late afternoon and I still haven’t got dressed.)
It means taking time to remember and reflect that only one human being was ever born to die: Jesus Christ. Death is part of the curse. By being born to die, the little baby, the incarnate Word of God will trample down death by death. Christ is born! Glorify Him!
(For some interesting reading about the 12 Days of Christmas you can check out this 12 Days of Christmas article.)