Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

Celebrating Old Christmas Day (links post)

In my house we’ve always kept our Christmas tree up until January 6th, or Old Christmas Day. This is the last of the twelve days of Christmas, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany. Traditionally, people stopped work for the 12 days, putting aside time to socialize and have some fun.

The song The Twelve Days of Christmas was inspired by this tradition, as well as the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night. (Twelfth Night is actually January 5th, when you had one last feast to finish off the Christmas food, before taking down all the decorations and getting back to normal the next day.)

Outside of Newfoundland, people don’t seem to follow this tradition, and I had always thought that we were just old-fashioned. But it seems that other people also celebrate the last day of Christmas in various ways, so I”ve pulled together some links to show the diversity of Twelfth Night.

Old Christmas Day

The date for Christmas has always been celebrated at different times. By the fourth century CE, Christians in the western half of the Roman Empire had Christmas on the the 25th December, while the easterners had theirs on January 6th. Since the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men met Jesus, was also on January 6th, that became Old Christmas Day.

Twelfth Night (Wikipedia)
Twelfth Night Customs: a Cake, a Bean, and a King
The Tudor Society’s Twelfth Night
And have your own Twelfth Night feast
Little Christmas Day
And how to dance Little Christmas

Feast of the Epiphany

Epiphany: the Feast of the Three Kings
The Catholic Feast of the Epiphany


Christmas Customs in Newfoundland
A video clip about Old Christmas Day
Counting From Christmas Day (Scroll down to the bottom for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Ireland – Women’s Day

The Roots and Traditions of Noilig na mBan
Women’s Christmas in Ireland
On the woman’s day of Christmas
Darina Allen’s recipes for Noilig na mBan

Spanish-Speaking Countries – Tres Reyes Magos

Celebrating El Dia De Los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Day) at Church
Dia des Reyes in Mexico
Alex Cox’s Three Businessmen

Italy – Befana

Befana in Italy
Befana and Other Italian Christmas Traditions

North Carolina

Past Times: How Outer Banks carried on old Christmas traditions
North Carolina and Old Christmas

Orthodox Rite

Orthodox Christmas Day (January 7th)

Photo Credit

Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “Celebrating Old Christmas Day (links post)

  1. Faye

    Here in our house (I cannot speak for our wider family) whether it is tradition or not we honour for the whole 12 days of Christmas to make the time and space to remember, Indeed to give thanks for a long ago-baby but for the two of us here to give thanks for what we have as we continue to journey through life with Him as our companion. Yesterday was the 6th but finally this morning all the gentle evidence of Christmas has been lovingly put away. Maybe we will still be alive to unpack at the end of 2020. (I wont say it wasn’t a struggle to ‘get it all’ resorted. It was so HOT! unusually so. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. solsdottir Post author

      Faye, I hope you’re doing well, staying safe, and will be enjoying many Old Christmases yet!


  2. ceridwensilverhart

    Ah, I wondered where the 12 days of Christmas ended! I’m glad there are still people who celebrate the full 12 days. It gives more space to enjoy the holiday time, unlike the rushing that leads up to commercial Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. solsdottir Post author

      I know – I work in retail, where Christmas begins right after Halloween. I try to keep that in the store and not in my life.

      Liked by 1 person

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