Sunday, January 5, 2014

Twelfth Day of Christmas

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas! Traditionally (and I mean wayyy back in the day), this was the biggest party night of the year that brought to a close the 13-day long non-stop party that was Christmas (from Christmas Eve through the Twelfth Night).

Nowadays, it is the Feast day of St. John Neumann, who is, I believe, the first American saint, and definitely the first male American saint. He was the Bishop of Philadelphia in the 1800s.

Unfortunately, Americans have gotten pretty lazy, and to encourage that, American Catholic bishops decided that instead of making everyone go to church on the Epiphany of the Lord, which is supposed to occur on January 6th, they shifted the holiday to the second Sunday after Christmas, occurring between the 2nd and 8th of January. This is because everyone already has to go to church on Sunday, so this way they don't have to go to church more often, but what really happens is that most people don't make a big deal about it anymore. This is just one of the many stupid things about the Christmas holiday today.

We've gone from fourteen days of parties (and really, the festival season is supposed to start with All Hallows' Eve) with presents, feasting, trick-or-treating and merrymaking (i.e. drinking) to getting all of the presents on the first day of Christmas and only having parties on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and maybe the weekend before or after with another party on New Year's Eve.

Anyway, on Twelfth Night you're supposed to take down the edible portions of your Christmas decorations and eat them, such as fruit in your Christmas wreaths, and obviously anything that you've stripped bare to eat you should take all the way down, and this is probably where we now have the idea that you take down all of your decorations on or after the Twelfth Night/Epiphany. (Traditionally though, it wasn't bad to leave up your Christmas Decorations until Candlemas on February 2).

Twelfth Night is also when you should drink the most wassail, but it's OK to drink wassail earlier in the Christmas season. If you'd like to come a-wassailing today, I'd guess you're going to meet with pretty staunch rebuttals by Grinches that think Christmas only occurs on Christmas Eve and Day. Personally, I don't keep ready pennies, wassail or figgy pudding for wassailers, but this is more because of my situation than it is that I wouldn't like to.

Twelfth Night is also when you are supposed to put the magi into your nativity scene (since that is one of the things that is epiphanic about the Epiphany: it's the revelation of the divine nature of Christ to the Gentiles, at least in Western Christianity).

Anyway, a very sincere Merry Christmas to everyone! Whether you stopped celebrating two weeks ago or not.