What are the 12 days of Christmas?

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]o, not the song about golden rings, true loves, and turtle doves. The history of the 12 days of Christmas.

Today the 12 days are equated with a song about buying gifts, but it has not always been so. Nor do the 12 days of Christmas lead up to Christmas as is most commonly understood. Initially, the 12 days were a calendar bridge for the differing dates of the Christmas celebration, December 25 in the West vs January 6 in the East.

An article in Biblical Archaeology on dating the birth of Christ states:

By the fourth century, however, we find references to two dates that were widely recognized—and now also celebrated—as Jesus’ birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor). The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; for most Christians, however, December 25 would prevail, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.

So there you have it. There is still time to organize your geese, french hens, leaping lords, milk maidens and the rest of it.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.