Ever been confused about when we should celebrate 12th Night, and how to count the 12 days of Christmas? Maggie Dawn reflects on this question today, the 12th Day of Christmas.
By Maggie Dawn at her blog
there is always some confusion about which day is 12th night – the 5th or the 6th of January? Is it the night before Epiphany or Epiphany itself?
The confusion, as I understand it, comes from the fact that pre-modern calendars regarded sundown as the division of one day and the next, rather than midnight. Add to that the fact that traditions vary as to whether they count Christmas Day (beginning on evening of 24th) as the first day, or the evening of Christmas day, lasting through the day time of boxing day, as the first day.
You might, then, count 25 december as “the first day of Christmas.” on that reckoning, the last night of the Christmas festivities is the 5th January. However, if you start day one at sundown on 25 dec, twelfth night falls on Epiphany, the 6th January.
And the twelve days, in any case, were only invented to cover a prior set of confusions about when Christmas Day was – formerly 6 January in the Eastern Calendar, and later 25th December in the West. What they definitely are NOT is the last twelve shopping days before Christmas