So the other day I was all, “Bah! Humbug! Let’s not start celebrating Christmas too soon!”
Well, today my house is all decked out in Christmas decorations.
It turns out, I have small children.
Christmas Is Irresistible to Small Children
The lights! The decorations! The colors! The traditions!
It was all I could do to keep our kids from writing their letters to Santa and los Reyes Magos before Thanksgiving.
(Quick aside: in Spain–and many other countries–the Three Kings bring gifts on January the 6th. Since our Bug’s birthday is January the 8th, we put in a special request to their majesties to come on New Year’s Day. They’re very obliging.)
And so, we pulled out the box of Christmas decorations. We took one look at it and decided it was too meager.
Thankfully, Trader Joe’s had pretty table wreaths. And Target had adorable decorations. And the Bear needed his own Christmas stocking! (Shockingly, I haven’t made him one until now…)
What About the Humbug??
Believe me, there’s still plenty of humbug in me!
But it is true that the kids’ excitement for Christmas is infectious. As we put up our mix of sentimental old decorations and new mass-produced ones, I felt a bit of that humbug melt away.
I was reminded of my favorite Christmas decorations growing up. The beautiful glockenspiel. The brass angel candle holders. My parents’ modern wooden nativity scene.
I remember how magical they seemed to me. How taking them out and polishing them each year sparked the magic of the Christmas season.
So I let a bit of the humbug go.
But not enough…
To put up the tree yet! DARN IT, I WILL NOT YIELD!
Okay, I knew it was early here, but WOW! That is VERY early, indeed!
The boys were surprised (and delighted) to find Christmas decorations in the stores practically the day after Halloween.
I, however, was dismayed.
First of all, I LOVE Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.
I love how it’s all about food (something I can get behind), getting together as a family, and being thankful together. There’s very little commercialization.
It seems to me to be the only unadulterated (read: un-merchandized) holiday left.
So what do companies and retailers do?? Why, SKIP OVER IT ENTIRELY, OF COURSE! The only money-making part of Thanksgiving is Black Friday!
Bring Back the Twelve Days!
I think, even in a year as crappy as 2020, it’s such a shame to rush so early into Christmas, at the expense of Thanksgiving.
People still celebrate it, of course, but with their Christmas trees up!
And I can totally understand that lots of people need it this year. But here’s what I propose:
Yes! That’s right! Christmas celebrations used to begin on the evening of December the 24th and lasted until January the 6th (Epiphany). That’s twelve days of partying! Merry-making! FUN!
WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT??
If you go to church, you know there’s the “Advent season” (the four Sundays before Christmas), and there’s the Christmas season.
There is some debate as to whether or not the “Christmas season” lasts this long, but in some church calendars, the Christmas season actually lasts until Candlemas! (That’s the 2nd of February, in case you didn’t know.)
But at the very least, Christians can all agree that the Christmas season lasts through January 5th and ends with the celebration of the Epiphany on January the 6th.
(As an aside, Epiphany is the celebration of when the three wise men came and presented gifts to the baby Jesus. In Spain and in many other Latin cultures, presents are actually given on Epiphany, not on Christmas–all the more reason to KEEP PARTYING UNTIL EPIPHANY!)
There’s a little history for you! This is where the carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” comes from.
Historically, since this was a dark and rather unproductive time of the year (nothing’s growing, not much doing…), it was a time when people made merry.
Christmas trees (introduced to English culture by Queen Victoria’s German husband, Albert, in the 19th century) weren’t traditionally “trimmed” or lit until December the 24th.
In our house, we never put up the tree before Christmas Eve. But we kept it up through Twelfth Night (not just a Shakespeare play! Also, the 12th night after Christmas).
But fun and games were had during these 12 dark, cold winter days. And the tradition of lighting things up continues, as we try to dispel the cold, dark and gloom of winter with artificial lights.
Why The Twelves Days Matter in 2020
This has been such an epically awful year. I can understand that people are especially anxious to get into the Christmas spirit ahead of time.
But it’s such a shame for it to come and go in one day on December the 25th.
I say we should go back to some of the old traditions: feasting, pranking, singing, dancing, exchanging gifts and (yes) drinking over the course of 12 days.
We’ve waited so long for Christmas, and for 2020 to be over. It only feels right that we should see it off with a bang.