January 5, 2016
It’s arrived. Approximately.
I say that because the 12th Day of Christmas is January 5 for some and January 6 for others. It depends on where you start counting. History’s slightly jumbled on that.
Using the full day of December 25 as the First Day of Christmas, then here we are at the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Now begins Epiphany. Did you know that? And if so, did you know some in the Church observe Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter Sunday (what I and some of my Christ-following friends prefer to call Resurrection Day – although every Sunday is Resurrection Day).
People who observe the 12 Days typically take down their tree on this day or the next. That’s not bad, if your Christmas celebration began less than two weeks ago.
Generally Epiphany is connected with the account of the arrival of the wise men in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. (Side note: Why on earth do we call them the wise men? Is it normal to accent the adjective rather than the noun in our speech? Blue house. Cold day. Wouldn’t it be more normal to say “wise men“? Just wondering. I think I will emphasize the “men” from now on.)
These written reflections the past 11 days have emphasized to me that we in the evangelical stream miss a lot of meaning in the HolyDays we celebrate. In fact we miss entire HolyDays. They don’t bother to intersect our thoughts. We may be the poorer for it.
There are so many more opportunities for celebrating the Incarnation.
Look what one family does. They wrote this account in response to this article about the 12 Days of Christmas:
For several years now, the Walchek family has enjoyed stretching our Christmas celebration through the 12 Days of Christmas through Epiphany. (The girls used to put grass by their beds for the Magi camels!)
During our annual Twelfth Night party friends gather for food and fellowship followed by a time around the fire pit where we share hopes, dreams prayers and aspirations for the new year. The fire is kindled with the trunk of our Christmas tree and each participant is invited to share a prayer and then toss a branch from the tree onto the fire. The sap filled, dry evergreen boughs elicit abundant sparks, crackling and flames which serve as a heaven-bound punctuation—a multi-sensory “amen”.
Joy and beauty abounds in this family’s Twelfth Night party. I particularly like how they use the Christmas tree to kindle their Epiphany fire. Let’s see – how would you pull that off in a townhouse community? Try it and we could have an epiphany of another sort.
Can you tell I am looking ahead to next year and Advent, followed by Christmastide? (The real stuff, not necessarily the glitter.)
But meanwhile, remember God Incarnate. We’ll never grasp the full gravity of that supernatural event as long as we live.
Remember Who the real Star of Christmas is. Hint: He doesn’t wear a red suit.
PS: Did you know white and gold are Christmas colors in Christian worship? Red and green came sometime later.