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When Are the Twelve Days of Christmas?

The tradition of gift giving at Christmas comes from the gold, frankincense and myrrh given to baby Jesus.
The twelve days of Christmas mark the time between the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Wise Men.
Epiphany is a more traditional date for giving gifts than Christmas day.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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“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 13 December, 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, 6 January, 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, who were 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.

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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.

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.

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anon236373
Post 4

Thanks. I intend to refer to this page,as an excuse/reason for the alleged "late" arrival of any xmas related present(s).

Pragmatically, xmas cards, etc. are surprisingly significantly cheaper, saves resources and probable climate destruction, avoids recipients' psychologically diminishing returns of too many presents at one time, etc.

anon139747
Post 3

You are both incorrect in thinking the 12 days of Christmas refers to literal gifts. They are all symbolism for God (He is "my true love") and the gifts he has given. Each "gift" is a reference to Books of the Bible, spiritual gifts, Jesus, etc.

DentalFloss
Post 2

The Twelve Days of Christmas lyrics to the original song are a lovey reminder of many antiquated phrases and traditions; the concept of anyone finding that many maids-a-milking, for example, might require a long search for many of us. Similarly, the Calling Birds from the fourth day of Christmas are often thought to be a reference to a specific breed of bird, traditionall used as carrier pigeons, which are now extinct.

olittlewood
Post 1

A financial company always releases the "True Cost of the Twelve Days of Christmas," which lists the true costs of each item in the Twelve Days of Christmas song. This year, if you buy every item, in order (and remember, all the items are repeated several times) you'll pay over $19,500.00!

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