Dec 27, 2011

When Do You Count the 12 Days of Christmas?

Three Wise Men
photo by Kate Elliot
From Wikipedia: The traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely forgotten in the United States, where the public generally tends to equate the Christmas season with the Christmas shopping season and its attendant commercial marketing campaigns. Contributing factors include the popularity of stories by Charles Dickens in nineteenth-century America (with their emphasis on generous gift-giving), introduction of more secular traditions over the past two centuries (such as the American Santa Claus), and the rise in popularity of New Year's Eve parties. The first day of Christmas actually terminates the Christmas marketing season for merchants, as shown by the number of "after-Christmas sales" that launch on 26 December. Widespread experience with the commercial calendar has encouraged a popular (but erroneous) assumption among consumers that the Twelve Days must end on Christmas Day and must therefore begin on 14 December.

Does anyone (in the US) pay any attention to Epiphany anymore?

When do you take your decorations down? Here is a web site with some suggestions.

Me? Usually New Years or right after. But not for any specific reason. In the US that's probably kind of late. I'd love to hear from people in other countries.


  1. My son's birthday is December 10th, so I never decorate before that. This is in keeping with how I was raised, however, as my father never wanted the tree up before the 15th. I can't really remember when my parents un-treed, but b the time Christmas gets here, I'm over it. I often start taking stuff down on December 26th (but it's a 2- or 3-day process). :)

  2. We always celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of Jan-usually included Mass-and then the weekend after to the 7th we removed decorations---The Manger was taken apart, each statue wrapped in tissue paper and put in the old trunk for the following year--the Infant was not placed in the manger until the 25th of December--If kids today and their parents could experience a Christmas like in 1950-they would be so amazed at the simplicity, and probably upset at the lack of sparkly stuff and animation,,,but we loved it then and remember it with happiness now that we were there...But back then we did not know any different-the manger was center of the celebration of Christmas and a few Santa's-some tinsel on the tree and homemade decorations were all we had-or needed...

  3. Yes, times do seem to have changed things.

  4. Our tree never goes up before the 20th. The manger sits under the tree but is empty until Christmas Eve, with the infant Jesus added right before bed. The magi are added some days after. I begin taking things down after Epiphany. The Catholic religious traditions are important to us. When I was a kid, my mother always celebrated Epiphany (Little Christmas) with a special meal and small gifts.