Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day, Feast of St. Stephen, December 26th

Well, I know that yesterday I said Christmas was done. It's not. We have the Twelve Days of Christmas to get through.

Traditionally, the Twelve Days of Christmas is a gift giving time, beginning with Christmas Eve, ending with a religious celebration on the day of Epiphany, the traditional day that the Magi arrived and gave gifts to the Christ Child.

Some British and Germanic cultures combined the Twelve Days of Christmas with their already established festivals celebrating the changing of the year. These were usually associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the new year. Thus, Twelfth Night celebrations became very symbolic of the winter solstace. Many traditions, such as the yule log, bonfires, candles, and evergreen, marked the celebration of Twelfth Night.

When traditionally observed, Twelfth Night is January 5th, the last day of the Christmas season before Epiphany- January 6th, and often included feasting along with the removal of Christmas decorations. Tradition says if you leave your Christmas decorations up after Twelfth night, you must leave them up all year long, or you will have very bad luck.

But, back to Boxing Day, and the Feast of St. Stephen. This is a day for giving food and alms to the poor. There are probably still Salvation Army bell ringers out. So if you are out doing your Christmas shopping, remember Good King Wenceslas who remembered the less fortunate on the Feast of Stephen.

I think that we should try to get U.S. Congress to make Boxing Day a national holiday... it's entirely unfair that the British should get this holiday, and we don't!

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