The History Behind the 12 Days of Christmas
Even if we get the order a bit mixed up after a few sherries, we all pretty much know the words to The 12 Days of Christmas. But what are the 12 days of Christmas? When are they? And where can one even buy turtle doves??
Before we even get on to all those lords a-leapin’, we wanted to know exactly what the 12 days of Christmas are and where they come from.
Dating back as far as 567, the 12 days of Christmas was a Christian religious festival designed to mark and celebrate the days surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. The 12 days were originally Christmas Day and the 11 saints’ days that followed, ending with the Epiphany – a Christian feast day that takes place on January 6th. Also known as Twelvetide, this was a time for celebrations and feasting as well as religious observation.
Throughout time, this Christmas period has remained one of merrymaking, even for the non-religious. Secular feasting and partying during this time started as early as medieval times as people began blending pagan winter traditions with the existing Christian holiday.
Although we don’t still tend to celebrate each individual day anymore, lots of Twelvetide traditions can still be seen today such as eating roast goose and fruit pudding. It’s also become superstition to avoid bad luck in the new year by taking down Christmas decorations on or before January 6th – the Twelfth Night.
A Peacock in a Juniper Tree
What’s Yuletide without a rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas? Brits have been singing this fun festive folk song since the eighteenth century and it’s seen some interesting changes over the years!