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The 12 Days Of Christmas


There's probably no more misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions than the 12 days of Christmas.

Contrary to popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany.  In some traditions, they say that the first day of Christmas begins on the evening of December 25th but the following day is considered the First Day of Christmas (December 26th).

The 12 days and nights are currently celebrated in widely varying ways around the world. Some give gifts only on Christmas night, some only on Twelfth Night, and some give gifts each of the twelve nights. It remains constant that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25th, and it is a period of twelve days and nights following or leading to Epiphany.

The origin of the 12 days of Christmas is complicated, and it is related to the differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures. Even though in our culture we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, January 6th is often the day that we do the giving of gifts. In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the 12 days of Christmas.

By the 16th century, in some cultures they had combined the 12 days of Christmas with festivals celebrating the changing of the year. Usually these were associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the New Year.

12 Days of Christmas Song

The popular song "The 12 Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a nonsensical song with crazy christmas songs lyrics,  popular with the children. However, many have questioned the historical accuracy of this origin of the song "The 12 Days of Christmas".  Many people seem to have made an issue out of trying to debunk this as an "urban myth," some in the name of historical accuracy and some out of personal agendas.  On another level, however, this uncertainty should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas.

Originally, many of the symbols of Christianity were not religious, as with the exact date of Christmas. As vehicles of worship and proclamation, it was appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian faith. The more important perhaps is that Christians can celebrate their rich heritage.

Festive Origin f the 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 Days of Christmas as a celebration and festival is old and steeped in traditions from Christian cultures around the world. For many people, the idea of the twelve days as a length of celebration is based on a sequence of verses in the Holy Bible. Differing churches and sects of Christianity have changed the actual traditions, time frame, and their interpretations over the centuries.


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