“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.
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.