Christmas isn’t over

The decorations at our house finally went up December 22, and they won’t come down until January 6.

Liturgically, the Advent season begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.

Culturally, “Christmas” starts the day after Halloween and ends as soon as the wrapping paper is dumped in the recycle bin.

Liturgically, Christmastide begins on December 26 and ends on January 6. In some circles the latter is called Three Kings Day or Twelfth Night or the Epiphany. It celebrates the visit of the Two or More Magi to the Christ child.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”—Matthew 2:1-2

magi Jesus nativity Christmas

Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico, 1424

You may have heard the old saw about the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” being a sort of catechism. It’s not. It’s actually more of a drinking song. But these are the twelve days: from December 26 to January 6, the Epiphany.

We lost that, somehow. Whether it was through the overzealousness of the Puritans ridding the New World of anything that reminded them overmuch of the Roman church, or whether it was through the overzealousness of marketers eager to sell Valentine’s Day goodies is incidental. It is a loss.

The one time of year we most need to slow down and appreciate the wonder of the incarnation is the one time we’re quick to box up the lights and nativity to make room for the New Year’s Eve buffet.

The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.—John 1:14

This Christmastide, be still long enough to appreciate that glorious truth. And have a blessed new year.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

8 comments on “Christmas isn’t over

  1. Except for Christmas carols, which get irritating after a while, I think I could deal with Christmas year long. … except that it would then lose its special-ness.

  2. Dec 22? Did you mean to wait that long or is this tradition?
    It feels pointless to me if the stuff doesn’t go up early enough in the season. Contrast that with the year we put up the tree on Christmas Eve (and therefore had an excuse to leave it up until Valentine’s Day–it was a live one, too. Let me tell you how wonderfully inexpensive they are on Christmas Eve. lol). And this year (and at least one other) I didn’t bother putting a tree up at all. Too much hassle with everything else going on.
    It’s been a difficult and yet wonderful year all the way around. Got another reminder tonight of my need for Him and of His vast mercy and love. It’ll be nice to keep celebrating Him awhile longer this season. =)

    • I used to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving or the first Sunday in Advent (which are often the same thing), but since my son moved out it’s hard to get motivated. I haven’t put up the tree in years.

  3. I love the lights! So I leave them up until the 6th. I’d love to leave them up all the time – but my conventional husband draws the line at Epiphany.

    • You know, I was looking at my lights (they’re white) and thinking how nice they look, and wondering if I could get them inside and put them on a ficus or something to have them year-round. They are pretty!

      • Still finding my way around WP and only just now seeing your reply. Funny, today my mission is to figure out a way to sneak some twinkie lights in the livingroom. I’m thinking a small strand on the mantel 🙂

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