The Twelve Days of Christmas
|12 Days of Christmas|
The Adoration of the Magi. Fresco in Lower Church, Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi
|Date||25 December–5/6 January|
|Observances||Varies between countries and cultures|
|Related to||Christmas Day, Twelfth Night, Epiphany|
The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days which begin on Christmas Day (25 December). This is also known as Christmastide and Twelvetide. The Twelfth Night of Christmas is always on the evening of 5 January. The Twelfth Day can either be before or follow the Twelfth Night according to which Christian tradition is followed. Twelfth Night is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. In some traditions, the first day of Epiphany (6 January) and the twelfth day of Christmas are the same.
Over the centuries, differing churches and sects of Christianity have changed the actual traditions, time frame and their interpretations. St. Stephen's Day (or Boxing Day), for example, is 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. 28 December is Childermas or the Feast of the Innocents. Currently, the twelve days and nights are celebrated in widely varying ways around the world. For example, some give gifts only on Christmas Day, some only on Twelfth Night, and some each of the twelve nights. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is about this giving of gifts.