The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season to celebrate the nativity of Jesus. In most Western Church traditions Christmas Day is the First Day of Christmas and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January.
25th December: First Day of Christmas – Nativity of the Lord
26th December: Second Day of Christmas
27th December: Third Day of Christmas
28th December: Fourth Day of Christmas – Feast Day of the Holy Innocents
Malcolm Guite: ‘The poem from my Anthology Waiting on the Word reflects on the fact that today, the fourth day of Christmas, is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. It is the day the Church remembers the story, told in Matthew’s Gospel of the appalling cruelty and wickedness of Herod in ordering the massacre of innocent children, in a bid to protect his own power-base. Appalling, but only too familiar. What Herod did then, is still being done by so many present day Herods. This scarred and wounded world is the world into which Jesus was born, the world he came to save, and amongst those brought by his blood through the grave and gate of death and into the bliss of Heaven are those children of Bethlehem who died for his name without ever knowing him. But he knows them, as he knows and loves every child in Syria, and he says of them, to every Herod, ‘Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these, ye do it unto me.’
Refugee (click on link for sound file of this poem)
We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,
Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
But he is with a million displaced people
On the long road of weariness and want.
For even as we sing our final carol
His family is up and on that road,
Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,
Glancing behind and shouldering their load.
Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower
Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,
The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
And death squads spread their curse across the world.
But every Herod dies, and comes alone
To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.
(Lyrics to Steve Bell’s version of this poem here, and music on soundcloud here.
A commentary on his blogsite about the song and the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman here).
29th December: Fifth Day of Christmas
30th December: Sixth Day of Christmas
31st December: Seventh Day of Christmas
1st January: Eighth Day of Christmas
2nd January: Ninth Day of Christmas
3rd January: Tenth Day of Christmas
4th January: Eleventh Day of Christmas
5th January: Twelfth Day of Christmas
This is but the beginning of the birthpangs. Mark 13.8
Seriously – January 5th, and we’re still on Christmas?
Can’t we move on, now?
We follow a different path than the rest of the world.
They are rushing on to the next thing. Let them go.
This, today, this is the moving on.
This is the movement, the birthing,
which takes as long as it takes.
Justice unfolds slowly.
There’s no shortcut to the Realm of God,
no beginner’s luck to repentance.
Give thanks for a God who walks with us,
and with us, and with us.
And pack for a long trip.
But stop counting and be present.
Abandon escape. Renounce the desire
to be perennially elsewhere.
The One who Was and Ever Shall Be
Is. Now. Here.
That is enough.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
6th January: Epiphany
After the 12th day of Christmas comes Epiphany which is used to mark and celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men, the Magi, The Three Kings, who brought their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus, indicating that He is the true King of The World. This is why many of us who follow this calendar and custom do not take our Christmas tree down from within our homes until January 6.
“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body.” St Peter Chrysologus