Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nights Before Christmas

The twelth day of Christmas, nightfall, my neighbor had just turned on his snowman.



Ben P. DaSalt said...

I’m confused as to when you’re counting to or from for this (the 17th of 18th) to be the twelfth day of Chrstmas. Even if Christmas Day was the countdown as day one, wouldn’t the twelfth day have been the 14th? Is this picture from then, or from last year?

I always understood it that the twelve days of Christmas started with Christmas Day, as day one, and counted onwards from there into January.

Not that it’s the absolute authority of everything, but Wikiepdia seems to concur with my understanding and more importantly has a few citations to back it up.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning Christmas Day (25 December). This period is also known as Christmastide. The Twelfth Day of Christmas is 5 January, with the celebrations of Christmas traditionally ending on Twelfth Night and is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January”

“With the onset of more Americanized and secular traditions throughout the past two centuries (such as the American "Santa Claus"), the rise in popularity of Christmas Eve itself as if it were also an actual holiday, and of New Year's Eve parties, the traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely forgotten in the U.S. This is also heightened by the commercial practice to have after-Christmas sales begin on 26 December and run usually until New Year's Eve. Indeed, contemporary marketing and media tend to espouse the (erroneous) belief that the Twelve Days end on Christmas and thus begin 14 December.”

I’ve noticed that some immigrants to the United States with Christian backgrounds are often perplexed to witness Christmas trees on the trash-curb the weekend after Christmas Day because in their minds Christmas has just started and the tree should stay up during the twelve day celebration period.

I guess it doesn’t really matter, if a historical Jesus even did exist, he probably wasn’t born on the celebrated day anyway nor would he have much to say regarding decorated evergreen trees or plastic illuminated snowmen.

Ronald said...

And what does Ben do for Christmas? Drive around and kick over Christmas decorations for fun. You're a jolly guy Ben. Have you thought of vacationing, out of the country, so the rest of us can enjoy the holidays.

Ben P. DaSalt said...

The final sentence of my last post came off sounding hostile; I should have thrown in a winky emoticon at the end.

Like so:

It was more of an attempt to muse at the variations of holiday interpretations that we hold personally sacred and immutable, especially my own, than to criticize anyone’s particular celebratory activities.

My mother was an immigrant to the United States, and always held certain ideas about when Christmas decorations should go up or come down. She was the first one to tell me that the twelve days of Christmas started on Christmas Day. Oddly, she made Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays, and it was an American holiday that she adopted and went all out on. That’s funny, because the American Thanksgiving tradition is a very recent compilation that's easy to trace. “It must be on this day, and we must eat this!.” Pure fabrication!

My partner is an immigrant to the US and the cultural tradition is to pick up a Christmas tree just before Christmas Eve, if not ideally on Christmas Eve. Dinner, gift giving and much of the Christmas celebrations are on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day. This also coincides with the idea that the twelve days of Christmas starts on Christmas Day.

Apparently, Santa Claus or Father Christmas or whoever, comes during dinner on Christmas Eve in other countries and it doesn’t take a whole night, he drops off presents by time children finish desert. Try arguing how that doesn’t make any sense when debating the qualities of a supernatural figure, “No, he can’t possibly get to every house during dinner, he needs at least a night and people need to be asleep, otherwise how can he possibly sneak in?”

I was also thinking about the tinkering of the Christmas season over the centuries to have it lines up with pagan winter celebrations and how our modern day calendar is an arbitrary hodge-podge. It’s why months like September, October, November, and December originally named for latin roots for seven, eight, nine, ten correspond with the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth months.

It’s always funny when people, especially myself, get superstitious over dates when they really are just meaningless numbers. Who really knows what day today is, you’ll get different answers from a Hebrew calendar, a Chinese calendar, an Islamic calendar, or a Hindu calendar; let’s not even get into “forgotten” calendars like the Mayan one and the alleged implications.

Christmas is celebrated in various forms outside the US but even within the country there are plenty of variation of tradition and people who don’t celebrate at all. I have spent Christmas in the United Kingdom once. Among those who celebrate the holiday, I still don’t quite understand the British satsumas and paper crowns and Boxing Day and all that. I was just excited to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special on the telly while it was broadcasting. I guess that’s my idea of a good Christmas, along with eating way too much food than I normally would.

With all that said, I’m still curious where Bix was counting to or from in the original post.

This is all my very clumsy and awkward way of saying Happy Holidays!