No doubt many of us are familiar with the popular Christmas song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” where special gifts are given each day from that “one true love”. While there is much information to read about the origin and true meaning of this song, it has nevertheless captured the imagination of many of us who have enjoyed singing it. Although the lyrics describe gifts which today would be very odd to give, it also proposes a “specific number of days” for the celebration of Christmas. Coincidentally, our Catholic Church celebrates this blessed season from December 25th, Christmas Day, through to January 6th, the Epiphany of the Lord- thus encompassing twelve days for this holy time of year! Most Catholics would not know this, but some feasts are honoured in our Church with eight days of celebration (called octaves) which date back to Old Testament times. This was done to help the faithful more deeply understand what was taking place and apply it to their lives. For this reason, Christmas is not just one day… it is a season. So what has happened to the Christmas season?
I suspect that part of the problem for many during Christmas time is that we frantically decorate, shop, bake, wrap, put up the tree and plan everything to celebrate the one day. Why? We simply do not “know” that there are still 11 more days left in this beautiful season and within it contains some very important Feast days and Solemnities which we are missing. For some people, the tree is taken down and out the door a few days after the birth of Our Lord and we haven’t even celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family! This year, that special day is celebrated on December 29th to help remind us that Jesus was born into a family with His father and mother and how this union would come to show us the very nature of God. Now, after all that time and energy is spent getting ready for Christmas, isn’t it more exciting to know that you’re being asked to celebrate for more than one day? So the next time you’re trying to “fit in” all those Christmas festivities… remember, you have twelve days to work with.