Friday, December 28, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

The United States is one country that no longer celebrates the 12 days of Christmas as a whole. But there are families that do so in a small way, either through their church services or as a obscure family tradition that they no longer know the reason for. Epiphany, sometimes known as 3 Kings Feast, means "manifestation" and ends on January 6th, 12 days after Christmas. You can google Epiphany and find many sites to research it. It's meaning is that Christ was manifested (or revealed) to the Gentile world because of the visit from the Gentile Wise Men. That is also why we light festive candles during the Christmas season, Christ's coming means to us as Christians that He is the Light of the Gentile world. It may not be the day of the Wise Men's visit, just as December 25th probably isn't the day Christ was born, but these are the days that were chosen to celebrate them. It can be a nice tradition to mark a special event if you don't get caught up in any of the superstitious traditions that can be associated with it. Since Stevie will always be living with us, the 12 Days stocking gifts will always be fun to do.

In my childhood I grew up Lutheran, being descended from German stock. Our Christmas decorations stayed up until January 6th. I loooved this because our tree didn't get decorated until Christmas Eve. Also, when Christmas vacation ended, the slump of going back to school was lessened when I'd come home and still feel like Christmas wasn't over quite yet, at least for a couple more days.

I started a tradition with my kids of putting a small gift in a Christmas stocking each of those 12 days. When school started, looking in the stocking was the first thing to do when coming home. Sometimes it would be a regular gift that I forgot about because I hid it too well and would come across it after Christmas. I thought this helped to ease the let-down of Christmas being over, and extend the festivity in a small way.
The small gifts were just things I might find at the dollar store, or a cute novelty candy, hair accessory or cosmetic, a plaster figure to paint, a fast food coupon, or even a dollar bill.

I for one enjoy the ambiance of tiny colored lights til way after Christmas. I don't put them up right after Thanksgiving like a lot of households, more like 1 week before, so I enjoy them staying up, but sometimes it's just because I procrastinate. One time I didn't feel like taking them down until February, but I would have welcomed someone taking them down for me earlier. Steve's not into the whole decorations thing so he leaves it in my hands and I don't like to bother him with any of it, unless I need help with something tough, so as I get older there are less being put up.

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