December 25, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Everyone knows the Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It can be a fun song, but sadly most of the times it is just one of those songs that just seems to drag on forever. Even though the song is so well know, few people realize why we sing it, or even when the 12 days are. Most assume it relates to 12 days of gifts leading up to Christmas day. I remember as a youth when our youth program took gifts to a struggling family of our congregation, one gift each night for 12 days until Christmas. I don't even remember the family we shared the gifts with, but I do remember the good feeling I had for helping someone else in need. Though this is a wonderful tradition of many families, the actual meaning of the 12 days of Christmas is quite different.

The 12 days of Christmas actually starts Christmas day and goes until January 5th (the day before the day of Epiphany, or the day of the Wise Men). The 12 days are days to remember Christ's birth, each day representing a specific feast, like the feast of the Holy Innocents, or the feast of the Holy Family. The days, or feasts, are designed to help the Christmas spirit last into the New Year, not just for one day. In a way the 12 days of Christmas are actually gifts for us, 12 days that we can continue to remember the birth of Christ, even after Christmas.

In the middle ages the 12 nights were filled with feasts, merriment, and celebration. William Shakespeare even titled one of his famous plays the Twelfth Night, after the last, and most anticipated of the 12 days. Today, some Christians will give gifts each of the 12 days, some will only give gifts on Christmas and the day of Epiphany, or the day of the Wise Men (January 6th, the 13th day). It is also tradition to leave your Christmas decorations up for the full 12 days (taking them down on the twelfth night). In short, Christmas, if celebrated properly, is not to end on Christmas day, it is to last for 12 days.

In an effort to make Christmas last into the New Year and beyond, I created this calendar of the 12 Days of Christmas. I invite you to study the story of each of these individuals, or groups of people found in the Nativity story. As you study their story, look for how they responded to learning about the birth of Christ. How did they worship the Lord? How did they honor the Savior?  Most importantly ask, what can I learn from how they reacted? How can I better come and worship the Savior this year and into the New Year?

Day 1 (December 25) - Gabriel (Luke 1:11-20, 28-38)
Day 2 (December 26) - Zacharias (Luke 1:5-23, 62-79
Day 3 (December 27) - Elisabeth (Luke 1:24-25, 41-45, 57-61)
Day 4 (December 28) - Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
Day 5 (December 29) - Heavenly Angels (Luke 2:9-14)
Day 6 (December 30) - Mary (Luke 1:26-40, 46-56; 2:6-7, 19, 22-24, 33, 39)
Day 7 (December 31) - Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-5; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23)
Day 8 (January 1) - Jesus (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31; 2:21 - Jesus is named on the 8th day)
Day 9 (January 2) - Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
Day 10 (January 3) - Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:36-38)
Day 11 (January 4) - Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1-8, 12-13, 16-18)
Day 12 (January 5) - The Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the 12 days and God Bless you!


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