Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Hello, Friends and Visitors,
If it is the custom where you live to count down the Twelve Days of Christmas then you will know that tonight is known as Twelth Night (yes, Shakespeare titled a play after the custom). Following is a small description from the Farmers Almanac about it:
Twelfth Night, the eve of January 5, is in English folk custom the end of Christmas merrymaking and in ancient Celtic tradition the end of the 12-day winter solstice celebration.
On this night, it was customary for the assembled company to toast one another from the wassail bowl. In Old English, wassail means “Be in good health,” but the term also was applied to the drink itself (usually spiced ale).
When I was a little girl, my mother use to tell me about the tradition of "Old Christmas", which was on January 6th. She would tell me about the old tradition of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus coming on Christmas Eve, but the opening of at least some of the family presents would be on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, or the day that was celcbrated as the visit of the Wise Men and the bestowing of their gifts on the baby Jesus.
There are many different Christmas Traditions throughout the Christian world. How one celcbrates this season depends to a great extent on where one's ancestors lived. Mine all come from the British Isles, mostly from Scotland and this idea of "Old Christmas" hearkens back to the old ways and celebrations of our ancestors.
So, tonight my family will do a little toast (a very mild one, as we do not imbibe any alcohol in this very LDS house) to the end of a wonderful Christmas season. If we were a little richer, then we would open a gift, but that will have to wait until next Twelth Night. Tomorrow, I take down our tree.
Why the heck do we do this, now that our family is very American? It allows for the very special Spirit which accompanies the holidays to linger a little longer in our hearts and in our home. That Spirit transforms us just a little, refreshes us and sets us on a better course for the New Year.