If you have been at all interested in the liturgical calendar or Christian traditions this is great time of year to jump in. Instead of spending the day packing up the Christmas tree you are looking at another week and a half of celebrating. Sounds awesome right?
I find it sort of ironic that our culture starts fussing about Christmas in October but has forgotten that in the Christian tradition Christmas went on for 12 days.
This twelve day celebration is fun time but it is also practical. We have spent four weeks of advent meditating on hope and anticipation. Christmas Day comes and goes so fast. It can feel like a let down to have spent so much time and preparation for one exciting day only to wake up on the day after Christmas to piles of dirty dishes and crumpled wrapping paper. For me having a few days to focus on celebrating joyfully helps me to reflect more thoughtfully on the coming of Christ and also gives me time to consider how His coming impacts my life everyday even when Christmas is long past.
So here are some ideas to keep the Christmas spirit for 12 Days (by the way, I’m a total amateur here, there is plenty more to know, this is really meant to be only a quick intro):
Celebrate feast days:
There are several saints days during the Christmas season which also help to emphasize different aspects of the Christian faith.
- December 26th- The Feast of St. Stephen. Stephen is known for being the first martyr of the Church. This day is also called Boxing day in England. It is a time to remember the poor and do some act of service.
- December 27th- Feast of St. John. St John is the apostle known for teaching about Christian love. This is a good time to read from John’s Gospel and also sip on some spiced St. John’s wine.
- December 28th- Feast of the Holy Innocents. This is a day to remember the babies that were killed by Herod as he sought to kill Jesus. It is a time to honor children and do something to protect at risk children around the world.
- January 1st- Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This day remembers Jesus’ name and circumcision on the 8th day. Spend this day learning about the names of Jesus.
- January 5th- The eve of 3 Kings Day. Christmas officially ends January 6th with Epiphany and we celebrate the coming of the Magi to visit the baby Jesus. Often a party for the three kings is held the evening of January 5th. In some cultures gifts are exchanged this night to remember the gifts of the magi. You can also bake a traditional King’s Cake.
This year I have become obsessed with these little peg dolls.
On Christmas day we gave our daughter, Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. On the second day she is getting the shepherds and sheep. Then on Epiphany she will get the wise men. On the days in between she will get members of our family (I’m telling you, I am obsessed).
Consider giving a small gift everyday or saving three to open on Kings Day (to remember the three gifts that were brought to baby Jesus).
Find Your Own Special Tradition for each day:
Growing up our Yiayia used to take us out early in the morning on the day after Christmas. We would shop for Christmas ornaments at half price and each pick out one which would be set aside as our special ornament for the following Christmas. She would also take us out to breakfast. I have great memories from these outings and having this tradition always gave us something to look forward to on the day after Christmas.
Consider taking some of your favorite Christmas traditions and spreading them out over the 12 days. Or make each day into a celebration by preparing a favorite food or craft, or doing a special outing or act of service.
This year on the day after Christmas we are going to stay up and watch Little House on the Prairie Christmas episodes, eat popcorn and sleep in the living room under the Christmas tree.
Read a Favorite book:
A Child in Winter has reflections for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.
Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas gives an Orthodox perspective on this time of year, it can be found here.
Or just read one of your favorite Christmas books each day. Here are a few ideas:
(We will actually be reading this together throughout the year in the Liturgy of Life Reading group.)
Hope this helps, and I’d love to hear your ideas of how to celebrate this season.
To learn more about Liturgy of Life click here, or join us in our reading group, where we are currently reading, The Art of The Commonplace by Wendell Berry. Feel free to comment here or join in the discussion on facebook.