Retailers love countdowns, one of them being their fake 12 days of Christmas that ends on December 25th. This helps sales, no doubt. But I cringe when I see it because it’s a marketing strategy that pre-empts the reality of the holiday.
Dear retailers: If you need to usurp a holy countdown, use Advent (November 29 – December 24.)
This brings us to December 25th, the first day of Christmas in most traditions, the days that old song refers to.
You probably sing the song at one party or another during “Twelvetide,” and perhaps you know the meaning of the verses:
The Twelve Days, of course, lead up to Twelfth night, the day when in most traditions, the greenery comes out of the house. My neighbors are used to our Christmas lights staying on through the 5th of January. The following day is Epiphany, the day the wise men visited the Christ Child.
I suppose many people sleep through Epiphany if they continue the tradition of the Twelfth Night party where everyone gets drunk:
This looks kind of expensive, so we don’t throw a party. However, if you’re throwing a party, please let us know. The first thing, though, is knowing when the Twelve Days of Christmas begin and end.
If so, you watched the winter solstice roar into the eastern time zone. Personally, I slept through it. No worries. It’s not like there was anything to see, actually. I’m just happy that tonight is as much darkness as we’re going to see and more and more light will be arriving. And we can use that, especially this year.
Growing up, my Christmas had a lot of the old Yule in it. Yule traditionally begins today and runs through January 1. The twelve days of Christmas traditionally begin December 25 and run through Twelfth Night (Epiphany). Suffice it to say, we had a Yule log, holly, plenty of greenery, and mistletoe (which I avoided). I hope some people are still carrying on these traditions.
However you celebrate the season and decorate your house, I hope you find hope and happiness in spite of the 2020 headlines. I like the older traditions, so if you were to drive by my house, you’ll find my outside decorations up until the night of January 5th. The neighborhood doesn’t mind: they just think I’m lazy.
When my wife and I lived in a townhome in a close-in Atlanta suburb, we bought a live Christmas Tree (spruce, of course). At the end of the season, we planted it in a shady spot and were surprised that the tree liked the place and was taller than the house when we moved ten years later. I hope it’s still there.
It’s nice to think that in spite of the on-going commercialization of the season that some traditions endure.
We’re always the last people in our neighborhood to put up Christmas and the last to take them down.
This began when I was in grade school and became a habit. The schools were always looking for families who would lend them Christmas lights. Once we started doing that, the teachers came to us first every year. We didn’t get the lights back until the last school day before Christmas, usually, somewhere around December 20th.
Needless to say, we waited until the lights came back to decorate the house.
After that, perhaps it was laziness to some extent. As for putting up the decorations, we rebel every year against the practice of decorating the house for Christmas on or before Thanksgiving. As for taking them down, we strongly dislike the people who throw out their Christmas trees as soon as they finish opening their gifts.
For years, we went up to my wife’s folks’ house on Christmas day. It was always disheartening to return to our neighborhood and find dozens of trees already out next to the curb for the trash truck. We leave our decorations up until Twelfth Night. That’s a rather old tradition with the twelve days of Christmas beginning on December 25 in spite of the fact that a lot of merchants try to drum up sales by claiming the twelfth day of Christmas is the 25th. (More commercialism by people who don’t do any fact-checking.)
It’s supposedly bad luck to leave any greenery, and I include modern-day decorations, up after January 5th. So we don’t.
Over the years, others in our neighborhoods have asked why our decorations go up so late and stay up so long. We’re always tempted to ask, “Why do your decoration go up so early and don’t even stay up until New Year’s Eve.” But we don’t.
Whatever you do with your decorations, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.