Before you say that Christmas is celebrated only on 25 December just wait for a while and think, is Christmas just celebrated on one day? The answer is No! Many of us celebrate Christmas for a day or two but do you know that Christmas is a 12-day-celebration?
Twelve days of Christmas begins on December 25 and ends just before Epiphany that falls on January 5th or 6th. Epiphany is a Christian feast that is marked to celebrate the 'shining forth' or revelation of God to the whole humankind. Twelve days of Christmas are significant as it includes the birth of Jesus Christ, the visit of the three Magi (Casper, Melchior and Balthazar). The 12 days of Christmas also tells about the childhood events of Jesus Christ, and his journey to Baptism.
Significance of 12 Days of Christmas
First Day: In the Eastern Orthodox church, the great feast that is also known as 'Nativity of our Lord' starts on the Christmas Eve that is 25th of December.The first day of Christmas signifies the Nativity of Christ. Nativity of Jesus, the Adoration of the Shepard of Bethlehem and the arrival of the Magi marks the first day of Christmas.
Second Day: The second day is referred to as the Synaxis of the Holy Theotokos. It also commemorates the role of Virgin Mary in the incarnation of Jesus' mother.
Third Day: Third day of the Nativity is also called as feast day of the Protodeacon and the Protomartyr Saint Stephan.
Fourth day: 29th of December or the fourth day of Christmas is referred to as the Orthodox Feast of the Holy Innocents.
Fifth and sixth day: The after feast of Nativity continues till 31st of December. These days are also known as the Apodosis or leave-taking of the nativity.
Seventh day: According to the Russian Icon of the Theophany, there was another feast of the Lord on January 1st. This feast is known as Circumcision of the Lord. It is also believed that on the same day Saint Basil also had feast with the common men. And thus the services celebrated on the day is also called as Divine Liturgy of the Saint Basil.
Eight to elevenths day: January 2nd begins with the Forefeast of the Theophany that lasts for 3 days.
Twelfth day: Last day of Christmas celebration is a day of fasting. The Christian mythology says that the lord has given order to his people to observe strict fast and not eat until the first star is seen at the night. The day is also known as 'Paramony' or the 'Great Blessing of Water'. On the twelfth day, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in Jordan River.
These are the 12 days celebration of Christmas.