Today is officially the end of Christmas – here’s why
It’s time to pack away the Christmas decorations because today is officially the end of Christmas.
Christmas ends on the Twelfth Night (January 5th) after December 25th, with the day following that known as Epiphany, which falls on January 6th.
The reason for this is because in the old days Christmas was celebrated for 12 days right up until the evening of January 5th.
Each day was celebrated just as much as families celebrate Christmas day now, a tradition that lasted from the medieval period up until the 19th century.
Nowadays things have changed a bit and instead the Twelfth Night is when we are meant to put away our Christmas decorations to avoid bad luck for the year ahead.
If you miss the date, some say to avoid bad luck you need to keep the decorations up until Candalmas on February 2.
What is the Epiphany?
The Epiphany signals the official end of Christmas and marks the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
The name ‘epiphany’ is actually Greek and means ‘manifestation’ with the date itself being a celebration of God coming to Earth as a human in the form of his son.
Did you know?
Frankincense and myrrh are both fragrances. Frankincense is a milk-white resin extracted from Boswellia trees and myrrh is a reddish resin from the Commiphora myrrh tree.
The date is also when the Three Kings (aka the Three Wise Men) arrived to meet the baby Jesus after following a bright star to Bethlehem. This is also when they handed over their gifts of gold (to symbolise his royal standing), frankincense (to symbolise his divine birth) and myrrh (to symbolise his mortality).
The Three Kings, known as the ‘Magi’, were called Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. Some suggest they are meant to represent Europe, Arabia and Africa.
The Epiphany is more than one day for some
While the Catholic Church marks the Epiphany for one day, many protestants mark ‘the season of the Epiphany’ from January 6 up until Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
When marking the Epiphany season, the last day of the Epiphany is called ‘Transfiguration Sunday’.
Some celebrate the Epiphany on different dates
Orthadox Christians celebrate the Epiphany on January 19 rather than January 6.
The name of the celebration also depends on where you are. If you live in the Spanish speaking world, the Epiphany is known as Three Kings’ Day – or – ‘Dia de los Reyes.
Pope Francis is expected to hold the annual Holy Mass for the Epiphany in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome but elsewhere there are some more curious traditions.
In some countries, like Mexico, a baby Jesus figurine is hidden in break and whoever finds it must throw a big party on Candlemas.
And New Yorkers hold an annual parade with camels, puppets and floats at El Musea del Barrio.
Meanwhile in Europe, children have been known to leave their shoes outside to be filled with gifts and leave straw out for the Kings’ camels.
Eastern Orthodox priests throw a cross into the sea in Bulgaria with men competing to dive in and fetch it.