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Friday, December 28, 2012

Let the Christmas Festivities Begin!

While many people have already kicked their Christmas tree to the curb and darkened their doorsteps by removing the Christmas lights, Christmastide is just getting started.  Traditionally, Christmas celebrations began on Christmas Day, December 25 and did not end until Candlemas, February 2.  Can you imagine how crazy retailers would be if they had to clear out Christmas after February 2 and get Valentine's Day up immediately??

Personally, we don't take down our Christmas decorations until after Epiphany, January 6.  You might recall that Epiphany celebrates the day when the three wise men (aka kings) brought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh to the infant Jesus.  I really enjoy Christmastide because I just don't want Christmas to end at midnight on December 25.  I'm so relieved that Christian tradition supports me on this.  Want more interesting Christmas fun facts that will keep you celebrating beyond December 25?

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas was written for the time between Christmas and Epiphany.  The first day of Christmas is Christmas Day and you get the 12 drummers drumming on January 5, the eve of Epiphany.
  • After the Reformation, some Protestant groups disavowed the celebration of Christmas.  During a Calvinist reign in England, Parliament forbade the celebration of Christmas
  • In Massachusetts, with its Puritan roots, up until the 1830's anyone who missed school or work on December 25 was subjected to a fine.
  • Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, but it's the same day as Christmas in the Western church - December 25.  How?  The Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar and Western churches follow the Gregorian calendar.  By calculating the difference (about 13 days), January 7 is December 25.
  • December 26 is Boxer Day in Canada and England.  The feast celebrates the day the priest emptied the "poor box" which was full after Christmas.  Boxer Day is the day when many people give gifts to people who serve them during the year - mailmen, barbers or stylists, etc.
  • In many parts of the world, some or all of the gifts are not opened until Epiphany because that was the day the Magi brought gifts to the Christ Child.

Still ready to take down that tree now?  Leave it up - celebrate a bit more!  Think about moving your "tree calendar" next year.  Don't put up your tree the day after Thanksgiving.  Wait a little longer and then you won't rush to get it down on December 26.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed Christmastide.