Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Twelfth Night

When I was a lad we observed January 6th as the last day of Christmas. Mother's people called it "Old Christmas." The church calls it Epiphany and celebrates it as the commemoration of the visit to the Christ-child by the Magi. The Eve of Epiphany, January 5th is Twelfth Night.

The Appalachian people to whom I referred had very strong beliefs and traditions surrounding Old Christmas. It was considered inappropriate to lend anything on this day, for the lender would never retrieve the item. Also, they believed that no matter how hard the ground might be frozen the elderbushes would sprout on the eve of Epiphany. If you were to sneak out to the barn or stable on the night of January 5th, at the very stroke of midnight, you would hear the animals praying.

Happy Birthday, son Mark.

3 comments:

Grace said...

My family is Italian and they called it "Little Christmas". If there were any traditions associated with it, I don't remember. All I know is that the Christmas tree was purchased on Dec. 23rd, decorated on Dec. 24th and was taken down on January 7th. The best part? We would gather all the fallen pine needles and make little pine "bean-bags". I guess they were the fore-runners of a hacky-sack. Love those pine bags.

Secondary Roads said...

it's not a family tradition, but one that we've picked up as we've been in contact with other cultures. We recognize the day as "Three Kings Day," (día do los tres reyes magos). Our Christmas tree and creche will come down tomorrow.

Lin said...

I always heard that the animals could speak on that night. Sweet thoughts--I wonder what my two would say??