27 Dec Merry Christmas!
I love Christmas! I love the tacky Christmas lights, which we have all over the front lawn. (It actually looks like a Christmas tree threw up on our house.) I love the Christmas music, both what we hear on the radio and the special arrangements of songs Austin and the band did for us during worship. I love the way this season feels.
It’s not about the presents. I learned a long time ago that the spirit of giving was what I liked best about Christmas Day. December 25 is technically the only day we give presents, but Christmastide actually lasts more than one day.
Epiphany is the day when the traditional church celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem to see Jesus. To get from Christmas Day to Epiphany takes 12 days. This is where the 12 Days of Christmas comes from.
The song, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” was developed over the last 240 years. This familiar song describes the giving of presents over 12 days, starting on Christmas Day. Half of the gifts are birds, and there are different combinations and versions of the last five days. I always heard there was some deeper meaning to the gifts, but that doesn’t seem to be true.
The best theories suggest the song began as a game for children to play. All 12 days had to be recited in order as part of the competition. Only in the last 30 years have people tried to turn the song into some form of catechism for the Christian faith. This approach designated the days to be symbolic for important parts of the Christian faith (e.g. The “Four Colly Birds” were for the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.) As good as that sounds, the song was not written about Christian beliefs.
Many in the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions, attach the 12 days of Christmas to a specific period. Whether you do this or don’t, the idea of Christmas being about more than one day is an important belief. With Christmas as only one day, it is easier to move on without fully embracing its value.
Christmastide comes to a close far too fast. Many have already moved on, but the miracle of Christmas is not a one-day celebration. We make a mistake when we only associate receiving gifts with Christmas. Giving is what Christmas is about. Christmas is something that goes with us throughout the year when we love and care for others in the name of Jesus. The gift of Jesus is something we can celebrate every day. That makes Christmas a true miracle!