Many people think Christmas is to be celebrated on December 25th, and it ends there! But many people worldwide celebrate this joyous holiday with their own special traditions.
Christmas is to be enjoyed for more than one day – and even at different times!
The (12) Twelve Days of Christmas & Epiphany
The Twelve Days of Christmas is a Christian tradition that marks the period from Christmas Day (December 25) to the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6). The Epiphany is a Christian feast day commemorating the Magi’s visit (the three wise men or kings) to the infant Jesus. The Twelve Days of Christmas are counted from December 25 to January 5, with January 6 being the Epiphany.
Here’s a brief overview of each day and its significance:
- December 25 – Christmas Day: Celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
- December 26: St. Stephen’s Day. Honors the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen.
- December 27: St. John the Evangelist’s Day. Honors the author of the Gospel of John.
- December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents. Commemorates the infants massacred by King Herod in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus.
- December 29: St. Thomas Becket’s Day. Honors the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was martyred in 1170.
- December 30: Feast of the Holy Family. Celebrates the family life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
- December 31: New Year’s Eve. Often a time for reflection and celebration.
- January 1 – New Year’s Day: A day of celebration for the beginning of the new year.
- January 2: St. Basil’s Day (in some traditions). Honors St. Basil the Great, a fourth-century bishop.
- January 3: Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Commemorates the naming of Jesus.
- January 4: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Day (in some traditions). Honors the first American-born saint.
- January 5: Twelfth Night. The evening before Epiphany, often associated with the end of the Christmas season.
- January 6 – Epiphany: Commemorates the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus, symbolizing the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
Throughout these twelve days, various cultures and Christian denominations may have different customs and traditions, including special prayers, feasts, and activities. The song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a well-known English Christmas carol that playfully enumerates gifts given on each day of the twelve-day period.
CANDLEMAS – The End of the Christmas Season
Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, is a Christian holiday that occurs on February 2nd, marking the end of the Christmas season. This feast commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary, as recounted in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22–40).
The primary events associated with Candlemas include the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, where Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to fulfill the requirements of Jewish law, and the encounter with Simeon and Anna. Simeon, a devout man, recognized Jesus as the Messiah and uttered the famous prayer known as the Nunc Dimittis.
The name “Candlemas” is derived from blessing candles on this day. In some Christian traditions, candles are lit and blessed during church services, symbolizing the light of Christ coming into the world. This custom represents that Jesus is the “light of the world.”
Candlemas also have some cultural associations, particularly in some European countries, with predictions about the end of winter. In some regions, it is believed that if Candlemas Day is sunny and clear, there will be six more weeks of winter. This tradition resembles the more well-known Groundhog Day in North America.
The celebration of Candlemas varies among Christian denominations, but it generally includes a church service, the blessing of candles, and the procession of candles. The liturgical color for Candlemas is often white or gold, symbolizing purity and the light of Christ.
Learn More With the Help of Video
It’s important to note that the birth of Jesus Christ was not on 25th December. Some do believe it, but it is not 100% true. However, Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus.
The Churches that follow Julian calendar, observe Christmas on 7th January.
There are quite a good number of countries around the world that are Orthodox and follow the Julian calendar.
Word Cloud for Christmas on 25th December
The following collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas on 25th December. This should help you recall related terms as used in this article at a later stage.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.