For me and my family, Christmas has always been celebrated on the 25th of December. But did you know that the Orthodox Church actually celebrates the 12 Days “After” Christmas?
On the 12th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me…
The 12 Days of Christmas is the name of a song that children sing at Christmas time. You’ve heard it… On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree. On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. The song goes on and on, and the true love sends the singer 12 different gifts on the 12 days of Christmas. If you were to ask me about the 12 Days of Christmas, then I would immediately think about this song. Until now, I had no idea that the 12 Days of Christmas is a religious event that is celebrated in the Church.
Bob Flaherty from Our Orthodox Life, suggests that the song, the 12 Days of Christmas should not be taken literally. He says that each gift symbolic of something more religious. He decodes the symbols in his blog post: The Meaning Behind the Christmas Carol – The 12 Days of Christmas.
The 12 Days of Christmas in the Orthodox Church
According to John Sanidopoulos from the blog Mystagogy: The Twelve Days of Christmas are a festive period linking together two Great Feats of the Lord: The Nativity of Christ and Theophany.
The first day of Christmas begins on Christmas Day, the 25th of December and the celebrations continue until the 5th January. Those who follow the tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas, will wait until Christmas Day before beginning any celebrations. Often, the Christmas tree will be put up (at midnight on Christmas Eve) and then presents are given out on a daily basis on each day of the 12 days.
They say that you should leave your Christmas tree up until the 6th of January. That is the day after the 12 days of Christmas celebrations. This date is always marked in my diary (because i can finally pack away all the Christmas decorations and get the house back to normal) however, i did not know that this date was directly linked to the tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas.
Presvassi from the blog In Service and Love offers tips and inspiration about how to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas. Also, if you would like to read more about Orthodox Christmas then I recommend that you read Christmas 101: An Orthodox Christian Understanding – a very detailed article by Sylvia from the blog Adventures of an Orthodox Mom’s
My husband and I are interested in learning more about this tradition. I’m not sure if this is celebrated by all Orthodox Churches or by just some of them. I like the idea… perhaps we might try it one year.
Do you celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas?
Related posts you might love:
- Vasilopita – Greek New Years Day Bread
- Greek Mythology and the Tradition of the Pomegranate
- The History of Vasilopita