The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a song most who are familiar with Christmas know at least part of. However, confusion exists as to when those days actually begin. Some people start their count on December 13, but this is inaccurate. The twelve days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas day.
The significance of the twelve days of Christmas is that they mark the time between when Jesus was born and when he was visited by the Wise Men. This date, January 6, is typically called Epiphany, or Little Christmas. In some countries, Epiphany is a more traditional date for giving gifts than is Christmas day. This is because giving gifts on this day symbolizes the gifts brought by the Wise Men, also called the Three Kings, or Magi.
The twelve days are often used to mark the journey of the Magi’s travel to Bethlehem for the Epiphany, the revelation of Jesus Christ as the savior and the son of God ("epiphany" is from the Greek word for "revelation").
The Magi had been told by Herod to bring back information to him regarding the birth of a child who would threaten his rule. Instead of informing Herod, the Wise Men bowed to Christ and recognized his sovereignty according to most tales.
For many, the day after Christmas signifies an onset of the blues. Christmas is over, and all the fun is done. It can be helpful to remember the twelve days of Christmas, as many Christians still consider this the Christmas season. Christmas day doesn’t end Christmas but merely begins the holiday celebration.
Though most people don't typically receive gifts for each of the twelve days of Christmas, many do have a small gift giving ceremony on Epiphany. For those who are already missing Christmas, celebrating Epiphany can extend the season.
The Twelfth Night, often celebrated on the night of Jan. 5, is considered the end of the Christmas season, before the Epiphany the following day. The Twelfth Night was a time for feasting in England (partly inspired by Shakespeare's play of the same name) in centuries past.
Some cultures, like the French and Spanish, celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany with a king's cake, a coffee cake with purple, green and yellow icing to commemorate the visit by the magi to the Christ child. In western cultures though, the King's Cake is associated with Mardi Gras, and the season of Carnival.
Churches also vary in their celebration of the Epiphany; some Protestant churches celebrate it for an entire season, lasting until the season of Lent, while many Catholics celebrate it as a single day.
Unfortunately, many have already discarded their Christmas trees long before the twelve days are over. (It is wise to do so if the tree has become exceptionally dry.) However, the Christmas tree is not a traditional Christian symbol, so Epiphany can be celebrated with or without one.
But just because the song is associated with the holiday season, that doesn't mean you can't sing it the rest of the year. So.....Merry First Day of Christmas!! Many blessings to you all.