The Twelve Days of Christmas

Many of us might think, living in the Consumerist Circus of Victor Lebow as we do, that we are now in the midst of the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.

This would be incorrect.

Good News for those who feel that they are Way Behind and the Twelve Days have already begun:

They have Not.

We are now, in fact, some seven days from its beginning at all…

When I was a Kid, we celebrated all Twelve Days of Christmas.

Growing up in an Italian-American Roman Catholic Family, my parents being First Generation Americans, we were not so removed from the Italian and European Tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, or “Little Christmas,” as it is sometimes known — January 6th — the Day we celebrate the arrival of the Biblical MAGI.

As the story goes, the Three Magi, Melchior, Balthasar and Caspar — three Astrologers, Eunuchs, Shaman-type Men, many believe to be Gay as the Shamans are in many cultures, and as the term Eunuch would indicate — arrive at the stable in Bethlehem some Twelve Days after the Birth of Jesus. They are dressed in Fabulous Outfits — Very Colorful — and HeadDresses, even Tiaras. They bring Fabulous Gifts for the Child. The Twelve Days between the Day we Celebrate the Birth of Jesus and the Day we Celebrate the arrival of the Magi are the Twelve Days Of Christmas. (n.b.: I say “the Day we Celebrate” the Birth of Christ because it is widely believed that His real Birthday would have been sometime in September or October, and Christian Leaders over time moved the celebration into late December to compete with the Pagan Festival of Solstice which had lots of pretty lights, festivity and dancing at the Beginning of the Winter Season, and was attracting away a lot of potential customers.)

See? We really are all quite connected.

But all of that occurred well before the time I was growing up.

Christmas was a Time Full of Wonder — not just a Day, but some two weeks off from school when we celebrated friends and family with Decorating, Making Gifts, Entertaining, Visits, Festive Music, Cooking Traditional Holiday Dishes (Stroufeli, Manicotti, Fish every Christmas Eve, Little MeatBalls every New Year’s Eve, and Pork every New Year’s Day), and Treats (Egg Nog, those Hard Ribbon Candies with the striped design, and some other Fruit Flavored Hard Candies with soft centers.) There were colorful decorations, and a Tree (I Love Trees! And that Love has only grown more profound with the years, as I have come to appreciate how they symbolize Life.) right in the middle of the Living Room! It was a season of Joy!

Sometime in the Eighties — Yes, it would have to have been during the REAGAN Administration — the Season seemed to lengthen, beginning earlier. Sometime during that period, I remember the Christmas Day when the radio stopped playing Christmas Carols by around noon. My brother and I were convinced there must be some problem at the radio station. How could this be?
Why would they stop playing Christmas Music so early on Christmas Day? And who wanted to listen to regular music? It was Christmas Day!

The Twelve Days of Christmas were about to begin the very next day!

We did not understand then that the neocon approach to the Christmas Holiday had commenced.

In the years that followed, Christmas Lights, Carols, Festivities, and the like would abound all the way through the Purchasing Season (which would come to include stores being open on Christmas Morning, and some now open throughout Christmas Day.) The season would extend back earlier and earlier toward the start of December, and rapidly work into its official beginning the Day after ThanksGiving, termed “Black Friday.” This term, now in common usage, refers to the relentless promotion of mass consumerism which has resulted in sales potential on this one day being high enough to bring retailers, whose books may be in the red by late November, into the black by year’s end — hence, “Black Friday.”

I heard a Catholic Priest say years ago in his sermon, “Think about it. Even the Commercialism of Christmas that sometimes feels so frustrating — isn’t this great lift to our economy Jesus working in our World?”

Perhaps he was right.

But The Grinch said,

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”

And I’ll go with that.

In 2008, the insane proportions of this Black Friday madness would culminate in the murder of JDIMYTAI DAMOUR as early morning Shoppers at the Walmart in Valley Stream stampeded the young clerk to death; then when asked to leave the store, they kept shopping.

Hmmm…. What would Jesus do?

I expect he might side with the Grinch.

Most recently, that most Beautiful Holiday of ThanksGiving has been desecrated by some (perhaps the very murderers of JDIMYTAI DAMOUR) with the appellation, “Black Thursday,” and in the past twelve or fifteen years I have seen Christmas Displays in Department Stores as early as August.

It is all so stressful.

We need look no further than the Buddhist Belief in letting go of attachment to things as the path to Spiritual Enlightenment, and it is easy to see why it has become so difficult in recent years to connect with that feeling of Christmas Spirit that seemed so prevalent in the Sixties and Seventies.

As I remember TONY KUSHNER saying somewhere in ANGELS IN AMERICA,

“You are all the children of RONALD REAGAN. And God Help You!”

Somewhere in the midst of the Holiday Season’s starting earlier and earlier, it had begun, at first imperceptibly, to end earlier and earlier too.

Years ago, when I worked in a HallMark Card Store (ADRIENNE’S in the Bronx, for those of you who remember), I noticed the Wall Calendar sent out from the HallMark Corporation printed with “Important Reminders” for its retailers, such as, on Christmas Eve, “Remember that Half of your Annual Sales will take place Today.” Wow! Who could blame the Corporate Giants for wanting to extend that kind of profit from a day to a month or longer? …whatever they can get.

But then, something was lost.

Since there was no profit to be gained in the days after Christmas, these days became increasingly ignored. And as the Music and the Lights and the Festivities ceased Christmas Day, or now give way to Announcements of BlockBuster After-Christmas Sales beginning two days before Christmas (Whoops! There goes Christmas Eve!), subtly, without an official announcement, the Twelve Days of Christmas came to be thought of as the Twelve Days leading Up To Christmas. Those were, after all, the important days for making sales.

But important to whom?

What of the Fun that begins on Christmas Day?
What of the Twelve Days of Christmas?

What of Simple Joys without the stress of shopping?

What of Time to EnJoy our Life?

Days “Of” something begin After the something.

In the Christian Liturgical Calendar, the “First Sunday Of Pentecost” is the Sunday After Pentecost Sunday.

The “First Sunday Of Easter” is the Sunday Following Easter Sunday.

“Days Of Mourning” are the days that follow a Death and Mourning has begun.

Black Friday, then, could be thought of instead as the First Day Of ThanksGiving, inaugurating an entire Season of Giving Thanks and Gratitude, leading all the way to Christmas.

What a BEAUTIFUL Thought!
Let’s Go with that!

Let’s Have Twenty-Five Days of Giving Thanks!
Let’s have 365 and ¼ days of Giving Thanks Every Year!

And the “Twelve Days Of Christmas” are the Twelve Days that follow Christmas Day.

When we chart this out, what do we discover:

December 25th: Christmas Day

December 26th: The First Day of Christmas

December 27th: The Second Day of Christmas

December 28th: The Third Day of Christmas

December 29th: The Fourth Day of Christmas

December 30th: The Fifth Day of Christmas

December 31st: The Sixth Day of Christmas

January 1st: The Seventh Day of Christmas

January 2nd: The Eighth Day of Christmas

January 3rd: The Ninth Day of Christmas

January 4th: The Tenth Day of Christmas

January 5th: The Eleventh Day of Christmas

January 6th: The Twelfth Day of Christmas is the Feast of the Epihany

Merriam-Webster defines “epiphany” as “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way”

How Poetically it all works out!

We Get to Celebrate Christmas Day!

And then, with no urgency to shop, no excessive preparations, no pressure to buy gifts, or decorate or ship, we get Twelve Days More just to CELEBRATE and Enjoy our Friends, Loved Ones, and Family — Make time for the things that give us Pleasure. Hang around with People we Love; and Delight in the Great Gift of One Another, and the Greatest Gift of All: Time Together.

Of course, this would help us to begin the New Year with new understanding, and in a very clear way…

It appears that no one makes money off this idea, so our Culture has shifted away from the Twelve Days of Christmas. To who’s Benefit is this? Certainly not our own. And in New York City, one sees Christmas Trees out on the curb for trash pick up on December 26th (The First Day of Christmas), and Lots and Lots of Trees curbside by the Sunday After Christmas. On both New Year’s Day Night (Only the Seventh Day of Christmas), and the Sunday After New Year’s, discarded trees are a common sight. Most Years, mine is still up, in it’s stand, decorated and Lit. My Partner and I celebrate with Loved Ones, Family, and Friends. I am still wearing my Christmas Socks. I am still Holiday Baking. And I am working on my Christmas Card which usually goes out in mid-January, once all of the MerryMaking has subsided and I have time to make some 300 Cards.

It is a Good Life!

And So, I invite you to join me this Year in the Twelve Days of Christmas!

I invite you to reject the notion that because it is today Seven Days until Christmas Day that the Twelve Days of Christmas have already begun. In actuality, there is not yet any Partridge. No PearTree. No Turtle Doves. No French Hens. No Calling Birds… None of it is begun yet. This is merely the season of Preparation for the Blissful Enjoyment that lies ahead.

It is still now the season called Advent, and it is about Preparing for Joy.

Next Week, December 25th is Christmas Day!

And Then, on December 26th begins Twelve Days of Celebration and Merrymaking and JOY and Fun and Laughter and Delight — Time to try out Favorite Recipes and get together with Friends we never seem to have enough time to see…




Dance with Glee!

Nurture SugarPlum Dreams — in our Children and in Our Own Inner Child.

Love One Another!

Be Kind!


ReCreate a Traditional Holiday Recipe from our Childhood!

Embrace Tradition!

Love EveryOne!

Light Up the Christmas Tree Every Day!

Take our Partner’s Hand, sit on a blanket beneath that still sparkling Christmas Tree, and share our Dreams, Wishes, Hopes, and Desires for the New Year!

Figure out how we can Support One Another in the Days, Weeks and Months ahead.



Create Something.

Open to Understanding.

Listen for a very clear way.

Tell Someone You Love Them.

Tell Them Again.

And Again.

And Again.


I invite you to share your own plans for the Twelve Days of Christmas this year…

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  1. Maggie Maes

     /  December 18, 2013

    Wonderful tradition Arnold – Great info – I look forward to enjoying the ACTUAL Twelve days of Christmas. Thank you. Maggie

  2. revajm

     /  December 18, 2013

    I don’t get to enjoy Christmas personally until the second day of Christmas so I for one am grateful we get twelve days!!!

  3. What a beautiful reminder. The consumerist approach steals the spirit of Christmas, but this notion, this forgotten truth can most certainly restore that. Thanks for the inspiration


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