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Christmas is worth celebrating for 12 days

Christmas is worth celebrating for 12 days
Christ's birth split time

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
December 26, 2022

Christmas Eve is the end of Advent. Christmas day is the beginning of Christmas -- 12 days worthy of celebration and joy.

But for most people in the world, Christmas 2022 is now in the rear-view mirror.

The presents have been opened, Christmas dinner is reduced to leftovers, and thoughts turn to New Year's Eve and beyond. And in America the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day decorations now take up space in the stores where Christmas decorations once sat since early October.

Crumpled gift wrapping and ribbon fills trash cans and the bare Christmas tree is being kicked to the curb, after all it has been up since the first Sunday in Advent and its dried-out needles are dropping and litter the floor beneath it.

Christmas carols once heard on the airways fall silent. Christmas is over. Employees return to work. Stores reopen devoid of Christmas displays. And Christmas is now just a fading memory.

Not so fast. Advent is a time of preparation. A pregnancy in time when the Church and the world should be anticipating the Birth of Someone Who splits time in two -- BC and AD in the Church and BCE and CE.

It doesn't matter if time is marked by the terms Before Christ (BC) and After Christ (AD) technically Anno Domini which is Latin for "in the year of the Lord," or Before Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE), the fact is the Birth of Jesus Christ split time in two. That fracturing of time exists today.

The Church celebrates Christmas for 12 days -- the Twelve Days of Christmas -- punctuated by the Feast of St. Stephen (Dec. 26); Feast of St. John the Evangelist (Dec. 27); Holy Innocents Day (Dec. 28); The Circumcision and Naming of the Baby Jesus (Jan. 1); and ending the 12th Day of Christmas on January 5.

Epiphanytide begins on January 6 when the Wisemen show up to worship and adore the Christ Child offering Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Tradition holds that the children's song The Twelve Days of Christmas was a way for Catholics to teach their Catechism lessons when it was illegal to pass on the Catholic faith in Merry Ole England.

Each stanza of the song conveyed a doctrinal truth: "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree." The Partridge was Jesus Christ in the pear tree was the Cross.

"On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves." The turtle doves represent the Old and New Testaments and the two natures of Christ -- Divine and human.

"On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens." The French hens represent the Trinity: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

"On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds." The calling birds represent the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. ...

And so, the faith was conveyed in a simple repetitive children's song.

However, the world, or at least the banking industry, is more interested in calculating the cost of each of those Christmastide gifts.

This year the Christmas Price Index explains that the price for the 12 Gifts of Christmas would tally $45,523.27 up 10.5% from last year due to inflation.

The Christmas Price Index, sponsored by the PNC banking group, has been calculating the price tag of the gifts mentioned in the Twelve Days of Christmas for 39 years. When the Index started in 1984 the total cost of the 12 Gifts of Christmas was $20,069.58.

Running the first Twelve Days of Christmas price tag of $20,069.58 through an inflation calculator shows that 1984 dollars are equivalent to $57,506.59 today.

Today the focus of the Twelve Days of Christmas is monetary. No thought is given to the theological significance behind the song.

It is truly reflective of how the world sees Christmas which is reduced to Santa Claus, his elves and Rudolph.

There are elaborate light decorations on houses and in the yards leading up to Christmas. Snowmen, Santa Claus, angels, and lighted trees are prominently displayed but very few feature a Nativity scene. When music is blaring its usually Christmas songs -- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus -- rather than Christmas carols -- Joy to the World.

I decorate for Advent using blues and purples then decorate separately for Christmas when the tree goes up.

I have created a small grotto in my front yard. A black silhouetted Joseph and Mary went out on the first Sunday of Advent. Twin Angels joined the Holy Couple on the third Sunday of Advent and the Baby Jesus made His much-awaited appearance on Christmas Day.

On January 6 the gold glittery shooting Star of Bethlehem will be added and it all stays up until Candlemas -- the time when the Christ Child was presented in the Temple and Mary revived her Churching of Women. It was also at this time that Simeon broke out into his Nunc Dimittis recorded in Luke 2:29. "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word ..."

Keeping Christmas decorations up until February 2 is a monastic custom I have long adhered to.

Christmastide is just starting. Celebrate and enjoy each day.

The saying goes: "For a thousand times in history a baby has become a king, but only once in history did a King become a Baby."

That is worth celebrating for 12 days.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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