We have all probably have heard about the 12 days of Christmas. But what are they? In the early centuries of the Christian church was common not to have unified days of celebration. This was particularly true when it came to Christmas.
Many people celebrated December 25 as the birth of Jesus. This celebration involved giving gifts as the wise men did with the baby Jesus. According to many sects of the Christian church, the wise men were not present at Jesus’s birth. These people exchange gifts on the traditional day that the wise men arrived, which is January 6.
The 2nd Council of Tours in 567 A.D. declared the 12 days of Christmas, a time for celebration between the date of observance of the birth of Jesus, and when the wise men arrived. It also corresponds to the Feast of the Epiphany, in which Jesus is revealed to be the Son of God. They declared this time to be the twelve days of Christmas, as “Holy Days.”
For those of you, like me, who get upset because people insist you say Happy Holidays, and not Merry Christmas, do not be distressed. The name Holiday is a shortened version of Holy Days. So when some political correct person comments that you say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, snicker under your breath because you know what they are exactly suggesting, even if they do not.
I want to point out something that I think is ironic. As many of American TV watchers know, it is the 50th anniversary of the debut of the Christmas classic; Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In honor of this date, CBS has been running commercials featuring Rudolf walking through the TV sets. Stars of current CBS shows are wishing him; “Happy Holidays”. The irony of this CBS shows Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer every year, and in it they must say “Merry Christmas” two dozen times in that show.
Many people celebrate Adam and Eve Day, which is December 24. It is a feast and celebration where they retell the story of Adam and Eve, and the Paradise Tree. Although, the fall of man from the Garden of Eden is a story of sin and failure, it concludes with a promise of the coming of a redeemer and savior.
I describe this celebration in my novel, “Legend of the Mystic Knights”
- It was Christmas Eve, and everyone gathered in the town square. A large fir tree was being erected. The entire town and members of the castle came to see the tree, for it was a joyful event in the dark time of winter.
People came and decorated the tree with paper flowers and apples. Many regarded Christmas Eve as Adam and Eve Day, and this was why there were so many apples adorning the tree. They referred to the fir as a paradise tree, for it represented the tree in the Garden of Eden.
We all know Santa Claus comes and brings presents to good girls and boys. Before Santa Claus became popular there was Tomte. Tomte was an elf from Sweden or Norway, who would bring gifts; he had a long white beard and wore red clothing.
Before Tomte, there was the Yule Goat. Yes, I said a Yule Goat. The Yule Goat would knock on doors handing our presents and food. Again this was celebrated in the Northern Countries in Europe. This tradition may have originated with the Nose god Thor. He rode a chariot drawn by two goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, which means Tooth Barer and Tooth Grinder. Thor once had to stay with a poor family; he slaughtered his goats to feed them, afterwards using his hammer Mjölnir to resurrect the animals.
Although Christmas has become a celebration of gift-giving and merriment, I would remind everyone what this celebration really means. As Linus, in Charlie Brown Christmas said,”…I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”
- 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Moreover, please if you can, help those who do not have the financial ability to celebrate Christmas. In regard to this, I would like to share one of my favorite lines, which is at the end of the carol, Good King Wenceslas.
- “Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”
Have a wonderful and safe Merry Christmas and Holiday Season.