December 28 is the fourth day of the twelve days of Christmas
which begin on Christmas Day and end on "twelfth night,"
the night before January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany.
Some families observe the tradition of the twelve days
by keeping the Christmas tree and the nativity up until the 6th,
which is sometimes referred to as "Little Christmas."
photo courtesy of morguefile.com
Celebrating the twelve days of Christmas has a long history.
The web site Hymns and Carols of Christmas has some of the most comprehensive
and well-researched information about Christmas traditions that I've found.
The site has some interesting information about the origin
of the twelve days celebration.
According to the Hymns and Carols web site,
observing the twelve days of Christmas
was first described by Ephraem Syrus,
also known as Saint Ephrem the Syrian,
a 4th-century Turkish priest of the Eastern Orthodox church.
Later, King Ethelred (991 - 1016) of Britain mandated the twelve days of Christmas
as a time of peace and accord among all Christian men.
Hymns and Carols speculates that
this mandate and the tradition of the twelve days of Christmas
may have been in part responsible for the WWI Christmas truces.
I'll describe those remarkable stories of Christmas tomorrow.