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12th Day of Christmas

The Christmas decorations are meant to come down on Twelfth Night, which is on the evening of the 5th January. But when was the Twelfth DAY of Christmas?

From doing numerous searches in Google and on Wikipedia, there seems to be disagreement about when the 12 days of Christmas start and end.

My understanding was always that Christmas Day was the first day of the Christmas season in the church calendar and, by counting forward, the 12th day of Christmas would fall on 5th January. The twelfth night would be on the evening following the 12th day – on 5th January.

However, some other sources suggest that the First Day of Christmas isn’t Christmas Day itself – they say the First Day is on Boxing Day (or St Stephen’s Day) on 26th December – and thus the 12th Day of Christmas is actually the 6th January (the feast of the Epiphany). However those sources (including the Oxford English Dictionary) place the Twelfth Night as the evening before the Twelfth Day – on the 5th January.

But how can you have the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany overlapping like that? Surely that can’t happen. The seasons of Lent and Easter don’t overlap. The seasons of Advent and Christmas don’t overlap. So how can the 6th January be the last day of Christmas and the first day of Epiphany?

Richard

Richard has been blogging since 2000 about technology, cycling, singing, and life in general. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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