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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 mankind.
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.
The first day is more known for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. 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 on the first day of Christmas.
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. The second day is also known as Boxing day. It is celebrated as St. Stephens Day especially in countries outside UK.
Third day is also called as feast day of the Protodeacon and the Protomartyr Saint Stephen. It is celebrated in remembrance of St. John the apostle, who wrote the Book od Revelation.
28th of December or the fourth day of Christmas is referred to as the orthodox feast of the holy innocents. Holy Innocents here refers to the baby boys that got killed at the hands of King Herod, while he was on his search to kill baby Jesus.
St. Thomas Becket is remembered on the fifth day. The Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Thomas got killed on December 29, in the year 1170, as he had challenged the authority of the king over the Church. Hence, the day is observed on December 29 every year.
On December 30, 717, the St. Egwin of Worcester had died, who was also known as the protector of the orphans and the widowed women.
The seventh day which is the new year eve, is celebrated in remembrance of Pope Sylvester I. That is why the day is also known as Sylvester. 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.
The eighth day is celebrated in remembrance of the mother of Jesus. Falling on the new year's day, it is celebrated on January 1.
Two important Christian Saints from the fourth century are remembered on this day: St. Basil the great and St. Gregory Nazianzen. It falls on 2 January.
Jesus Christ was named on this day in a Jewish temple. The feast of this day is known as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.
3 January is the eleventh day of the feast of St. Simeon Stylites. He had spent 37 years living on a small platform on the top of the pillar on Aleppo.
Last day of Christmas celebration, January 5, 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. It is also known as Epiphany Eve, as the next day is called Epephany.