Many people mistakenly believe that the 12 days of Christmas take place before Christmas, but they're actually the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6). Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the day the three magi presented their gifts to the baby Jesus.
Day 1 (December 25) is Christmas Day when we celebrate the birth of Christ by feasting and the giving of gifts.
Day 2 (December 26) is Saint Stephen's Day, the feast day mentioned in one of my favourite Christmas Carols, Good King Wenceslas. Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr.
Day 3 (December 27) is the feast day for Saint John the Apostle. He was the only one of Christ's apostles who did not forsake Him.
Day 4 (December 28) is The Feast of the Holy Innocents, the day which is used to remember all the infant boys killed by King Herod.
Day 5 (December 29) is Saint Thomas Becket's feast day. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, murdered on this day for challenging the King’s authority over the Church.
Day 6 (December 30) is the feast day commemorating the death of Saint Egwin of Worcester, who founded the Abbey of Eversham.
Day 7 (December 31) is New Year's Eve, also known as Hogmanay. The life of Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day.
Day 8 (January 1) is the feast day for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Day 9 (January 2) is the feast day for both Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen.
Day 10 (January 3) is Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which celebrates the naming of the baby Jesus, and his circumcision - a memoriam of the first shedding of Christ's blood.
Day 11 (January 4) is the feast day for the first American saint, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the American Sisters of Charity, which was the first sisterhood native to the United States.
Day 12 (January 5) is the feast day for Saint John Neumann, who was the first Bishop in America.
And there you have it. The real twelve days of Christmas.
And for those of you who are superstitious, it's considered bad luck to leave your Christmas decorations up after Epiphany, so make sure you take them down on January 6.
For more Christmas superstitions, join me here next week. :-)