Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas is a festive Christian season to celebrate the nativity of Jesus. In most Western Church traditions Christmas Day is the First Day of Christmas and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January.; but for others, the twelve days begin on 26 December and end on 6 January.
Because of the 13-day difference at present existing between the Julian and the Gregorian calendar, those who follow the Julian calendar have Christmas on what for them is 25 December but for others 7 January. Similarly, their 6 January is what users of the more widely prevailing Gregorian calendar call 19 January.
Traditionally, the Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on 6 January, which is either the last of the Twelve Days or the day immediately after them. But now, in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the rule concerning the date of the Epiphany feast is: “The Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated on 6 January, unless, where it is not observed as a holy day of obligation, it has been assigned to the Sunday occurring between 2 and 8 January.” For the Church of England also, the celebration the Epiphany is “on 6 January or transferred to the Sunday falling between 2 and 8 January”.
For some Christian denominations, such as the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church, the Twelve Days period is the same as Christmastide; for others, such as the Catholic Church, Christmastide lasts a little longer; the Twelve Days are different from the Octave of Christmas, which is the eight-day period from Christmas Day until 1 January.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English Christmas carol that enumerates in the manner of a cumulative song a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. The song, first published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme, is thought to be French in origin. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 68. The tunes of collected versions vary. The standard tune now associated with it is derived from a 1909 arrangement of a traditional folk melody by English composer Frederic Austin, who first introduced the now familiar prolongation of the verse “five gold rings”.
Wikipedia contributors, “Twelve Days of Christmas,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 24, 2014).
Wikipedia contributors, “The Twelve Days of Christmas (song),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 24, 2014).
“David Teniers (II) – Twelfth-night (The King Drinks) – WGA22083” by David Teniers the Younger – Web Gallery of Art: Image Info about artwork. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
By Xavier Romero-Frias (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.