What are the REAL 12 Days of Christmas?
You know the song – but do you know when it starts or ends and why? What are the real 12 Days of Christmas?
Everyone knows the song and it has been sung by groups as diverse as Relient K and the Muppets. First mentioned in a children's book published in London around 1780, it has been a catchy tune ever since. But do you know the meaning behind it? What are the real 12 Days of Christmas? Europe and the USA differ in their celebrations.
The Fresh Toast – You know the song – but do you know when it starts? What are the real 12 Days of Christmas?
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The 12 days of Christmas are the period between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Three Wise Men, the three wise men. It begins on December 25th (Christmas) and lasts until January 6th (Epiphany, sometimes called Epiphany). Advent and commercial Advent calendars, which offer everything from Legos to chocolates to buzz, are a different date. The four weeks before Christmas are collectively known as Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24th.
The 12 days of Christmas end on Epiphany (called Old Christmas in the Old South). Epiphany is a Christian holiday that falls on January 6th. Many Christians believe that the Maji (also known as the Magi or the Wise Men) followed the star to visit the newborn baby Jesus. Epiphany was declared a holiday because it comes from the Greek word “to reveal” and is the day on which the baby Jesus was revealed to the world. It is also called Epiphany.
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In the 6th century, the Catholic Church declared the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany (i.e. until shortly before midnight on January 5th, since Epiphany begins on January 6th) a holy and festive time and led to the preparation for the feast Compulsory Advent fasting. Nowadays, Advent is best known for calendars with small gifts.
In the United States, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the major holidays. There is still a lot of excitement in Europe on the 24th and 25th, but Epiphany is also a great occasion for celebration, family and joy.
In Italy, good children receive gifts not only at Christmas, but also on January 6th, to celebrate the Epiphany. They are usually sweets and small toys, said to be brought by La Befana, a friendly witch who rides a broomstick. All she leaves for naughty children is a lump of coal.
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In France, the visit of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus is commemorated on January 6th with “l'Epiphanie” or “la journée des rois”. In France it is traditional to eat “la Galette des Rois”. The French go to the bakery to buy this king cake or bake it themselves. Games and a crown are part of the cake party and laughter should be a generous part of the evening.
Both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Catholic Church celebrate January 6th, in contrast to their feud over Easter.