Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the winter holidays. Give me a seasonal celebration around food, family, lights and merriment and I’m IN. I hope everyone has a reason to celebrate something around the solstice, and I love learning about and celebrating other cultural and religious traditions that also happen this time of year.
My default happens to be Christmas, and every year I get a little bug up my arse about how badly most people have screwed up the timing around it.
Jesus doesn’t need to be the reason for the season, but if you’re going to co-opt part of the Christian ritual, at least understand what it really means, so you look like less of a dummy next year.
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS START ON CHRISTMAS DAY!
The time we’re in now? Leading up to Christmas? It’s called Advent, and it’s 24 days long, counting down from the 1st of December to Christmas Day. For Christians, it’s a time of anticipation and preparation to celebrate the birth of Christ.
For everyone else, it’s a time to open the doors on your little chocolate calendar one day at a time.
It is entirely separate from the twelve days of Christmas.
Then, Christmas Day! I think everyone is pretty clear on that.
But! Christmas Day is also the first day of Christmas! See how that works? All neat and tidy and easy to remember?
I can see how people might be confused, since the last verse of the famous song lists gifts in reverse, but it does start with the “First Day of Christmas.”
It’s a count up, not a count-down, ending in Epiphany on the 6th of January.
The traditions around Epiphany get a little messy at this point, depending on which flavour of Jesus-freak you might be, but it’s usually tied to celebrations around the baptism of the Christ-child, and the origins of things like The Feast of the Three Kings, and the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
So, clear as mud? Really, if you’re excited enough about the holidays to start talking “12-days,” you should be pleased with this news, since it means I’ve just extended your celebration season nearly an entire fortnight!
But if you like to cease the celebrations as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 25th, put the talk of the 12-days away. You don’t get to have your King Cake and eat it too.
And seriously, if you insist on continuing to screw this up, behind my holly, jolly eggnog mustache and candy cane smile, I am totally judging you.
The best possible mixy-mash-up of the 12 Days of Christmas.