Thursday, January 5, 2023

The 12th Day of Christmas


Today is the 12th Day of Christmas. Bring on those 12 drummers drumming! 

Even without such competing distractions as the Republican leadership meltdown on Capitol Hill, secular society has long since left Christmas behind, its legacy lingering only in the sad sight of cast-off Christmas trees in the city's streets awaiting garbage pickup. It is one of the curious characteristics of modernity to have reversed the classic sequence of Christmas celebration. In place of 12 days from Christmas until Epiphany Eve (or 40 days until Candlemas), the celebration of Christmas is anticipated in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas (or even earlier) and ends (instead of begins) on Christmas Day, with a modest postscript preserved in the celebration of New Year. 

Around 1601 or early 1602, back when Christmas was still kept as Christmas, William Shakespeare composedTwelfth Night, or What You Will a romantic comedy believed to have been written as entertainment for Twelfth Night, at that time usually the big end-of-holiday party. (The play's first documented public performance was actually for the last of the Christmas season celebrations, Candlemas Day, February 2 1602.)

The title of that play is just one of the very few remaining cultural links left that remind us that there was once a different way of keeping Christmas from the secular consumerist model (which we have largely all collaborated in). For what it is worth, it is a memory worth holding onto.

So, take a break from the chaos that envelopes us. Happy Twelfth Day!

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