by Mary Jo
This is the last of the Word Wench Christmastide posts, which celebrate the time between Christmas and Epiphany, so I decided to research the holiday a bit more. It might be celebrated on either January 5th or January 6th, depending on whether Christmas Day is counted as the first day, or Boxing Day, the 26th, is the first.
In some parts of the world it's called the Feast of the Three Kings because the holiday celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings or Three Wise Men as they followed the star to Bethlehem to celebrate the arrival of 'the newborn king.'
Even as a kid, I wondered about the logistics of this. They couldn't have been very far away if they reached their goal in twelve days, and how accurate would a star be for guidance? The traditional pictures usually show the star hovering over the stable like an LED lit drone. Really?
But legends have power and the religious meaning of Twelfth Night still resonates. Wikipedia has all kinds of interesting information about the holiday. One wide spread tradition says that Twelfth Night is the time to take down the Christmas decorations. This makes sense to me. Holiday greens are probably drying out by January 6th, and it's also time to get on with the new year.
I particularly liked this tidbit from Wikipedia: "The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in London has had a tradition since 1795 of providing a Twelfth Night cake. The will of Robert Baddeley made a bequest of £100 to provide cake and punch every year for the company in residence at the theatre on 6 January. The tradition still continues." Leave it to the British to keep that tradition running for over 200 years!
I also enjoyed learning that in Ireland, statues of the three kings are placed in the crib on Twelfth Night, another lovely tradition.
But one of my favorite stories is the modern meme that says if three wise women had come, they'd have asked directions so they arrived on time and could help deliver the baby. They would have brought practical gifts (diapers?), cleaned the stable, and made casseroles. And there would be peace on earth. <G> Hard to argue with that!
Do you have any Twelfth Night habits or customs you observe? I'd love to hear them!