The Christmas festivities start from 25th December. It ends on the 5th January. This time is called the Christmastide. Some even call it twelvetide. In some parts of the world the celebration goes on till 6th January. We in this article will discuss about the 12 days of Christmas.
We will try to discuss all aspects of the same so that you can understand the essence of it better. The twelfth night is followed by the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th January. The 26th December is the Boxing Day. The 12 days of Christmas are celebrated in different way all across the world. These 12 days are very significant and special to the Christians.
The 27th December is celebrated as the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist and Apostle. The 28th December is called the The Feast of the Holy Innocents as on this day male children were ordered to be murdered in Bethlehem by King Herod. The 29th December is the day of the Saint Thomas Becket. 30th December is the day for the feast of the holy family. 31st December is celebrated as the feast of Saint Sylvester. In many parts of Europe New Year eve is still celebrated as Sylvester. The 1st January the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God is celebrated on this day.
In some parts of the world it is also celebrated as Circumcision of Jesus. The January 2nd is celebrated as the octave day of St. Stephen. It is also called the St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen. The English celebrate the Lichfield Martyrs on this day. The 10th January is called the Feast of Saint Genevieve. This is one of the most holy names of Jesus. The 11th day or the 4th January is celebrated as feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who was the first American saint. The 5th January is celebrated as the Feast of St. Edward the Confessor King of England. This is the twelfth night.
You must have heard about the famous play of William Shakespeare that was called the “twelfth night”. This too was based on the concept of the 12 days of Christmas. There are many traditions that are associated with the 12 days of Christmas. On the twelfth day the Christmas tree and the other decorations done are removed. Some have gifts given on each day of the 12 days of Christmas. Some have different food items prepared on these 12 days of Christmas.
There is also a song that is dedicated to the 12 days of Christmas that you must have heard at some point or the other. We will now discuss each of the 12 days of Christmas in details for the readers to get a better idea of what the each day is about and how it can be celebrated:
1. The first day or the Christmas Eve. On this day the Jesus Christ was born. He was born at twelve in the night. On this day gifts are exchanged and it is a family time. People have good food and drink and they also visit the church on this day.
2. The second day in the list of the 12 days of Christmas is the day to celebrate the life of Saint Stephen who is also called the first martyr. This day is also known as the Boxing Day. He was the first of the seven deacons of the Christian church. He was the first Christian who was killed for following his faith. This day is celebrated to remember his sacrifice. The Christians visit the church and pray on this day.
3. The third day is the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist. He was one of the first disciples of the Christ. He wrote the five books of bible. He died of old age and was not killed. He was 100 years of age when he died. He is also known as the saint.
4. We will now move on to the fourth day of the 12 days of Christmas. This is called the Feast of the Holy Innocents. In this Herod who was the Roman king of the Jews. He killed the male children of Jewish king so that no one could take his throne. There have been many stories and paintings that have depicted this sad incident. It is still remembered during the 12 days of Christmas.
5. The fifth day of the Christmas is called the Saint Thomas Becket. Saint Thomas was a saint in London. He was murdered by the followers of the king of the Canterbury cathedral. He was canonised by the pope Alexander the three after his death.
6. We shall move to the sixth day now which is called the feast of the holy family. Holy family means the child Jesus, Mother Mary and Saint Joseph as on this day the veneration of the family started.
7. The seventh day is called as the feast of Saint Sylvester. Saint Sylvester was a great saint and he was heading the Catholic Church. Not much is known about him. He was loved by the people and so he is still worshipped on this day.
8. On the 8th day of the 12 days of Christmas the “Solemnity of Mary Mother of God” is celebrated. This is celebrated to remember mother Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ.
9. The ninth day is the feast day of St. Basil the Great. He was a great saint and he did some considerable work in the fields of theology.
10. We shall take up the tenth day of the celebrations which is called Feast of Saint Genevieve. She was a great saint. She helped a lot of poor people and gave them food. When Childeric the one besieged the city she also helped the prisoners to escape.
The 11th day is the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who was the first saint of America
The St. Edward the Confessor King of England is also the 12th and the last day of the celebrations. People party on this day and also the feast is really grand on this day as the 12 days of Christmas comes to an end on this day. Some people exchange gifts on this day too.
We have tried to cover the most important aspects of the 12 days of Christmas. We hope that this article will help you to get a brief idea of the 12 days of Christmas. There is much more to it but we just cannot cover all the traditions from all over the world in one article so we have tried to cover only some aspects of the same in this article so that the reader gets a basic idea. We hope that the points mentioned in this article will help you to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas better and have a blessed festive season.