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
Ireland – Women’s Day
Spanish-Speaking Countries – Tres Reyes Magos
Italy – Befana
Orthodox Christmas Day (January 7th)