The Twelve Days of Christmas is a song that you either love or hate. But what most people don’t know is that The Twelve Days of Christmas is actually a historic Christian tradition. In some Christian circles, the celebration is referred to as Christmastide and last longer than twelve days.
Some people think that The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days leading up to Christmas, when in fact they are the days after Christmas.
The Twelve Days of Christmas commences on December 25 (Christmas Day) and lasts through January 5. The next day, January 6, is Epiphany. Epiphany is the celebration of the Magi’s visit to the Baby Jesus. This visit is seen as the Gentile introduction to the Jewish Messiah and the opening of the Way of Salvation to all people. Therefore, The Twelve Days of Christmas are celebrated as an increasing giving celebration which culminates with the giving of Salvation to the Gentiles.
The symbolism of the number 12 probably isn’t lost on anyone who has spent time reading the Bible.
The lyrics of the song that we are familiar with was introduced in 1780 as a chant, however, the author is anonymous.
The tune we now use was composed by Englishman Frederic Austin in 1908.
Christmas is a busy, one-day celebration for many people around the world. But for Christians, the observance of The Twelve Days of Christmas, in addition to the 24 days of Advent, allows for 36 days of remembering and celebrating God’s goodness to us. These 36 days are the first 36 days of the Church calendar.
I think The Twelve Days of Christmas is an excellent time to reflect on God’s gifts to us.