Wednesday, December 26, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th)

You count the 12 days from December 25th until January 6th

December 26, Feast of St. Stephen
December 27, Feast of Saint John
December 28, Feast of the Holy Innocents
December 29, Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
December 30, Feast of the Holy Family
December 31, Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
January 1, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
January 2, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen
January 3, Most Holy Name of Jesus
January 4, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
January 5, St. John Neumann
January 6, Solemnity of the Epiphany

The origin of the Twelve Days is a bit complicated, and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures.

  • In the Western church, Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the time the three Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus.
  • In some cultures Epiphany is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the Day of the Kings. Even though December 25th is celebrated as Christmas in these cultures, Epiphany is often the day for giving gifts.
  • In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Prayers & HymnsActivities & CustomsDuring the Twelve Days of Christmas and Christmastide the Church also celebrates other major holy days including those of St. Stephen, the Holy Innocents, St. John, (Stephen and the Innocents were martyred for their faith and St. John suffered for his)
On the first Sunday after Christmas the Church celebrates the Holy Family (The Holy Family was eventually driven from their homeland into Egypt).

These feasts stand in the midst of the season of the Incarnation to remind us that the Incarnation is about more than just the birth of the Christ Child: it is also about the suffering and death of him who is also our Savior. And, as his followers, the Christian life is much more than the celebrations associated with Christmas.

Source: Catholic Culture


Anonymous said...


Soutenus said...

Thanks, Jackie! We (my family and I) are still referring back to this post. I was so happy to have this to guide us through the 12 days of Christmas.
God bless you and yours!

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