If you are friends with Bobby on facebook, you've seen him post everyday what "day of christmas" it is. For example, today he says, "Happy 12th Day of Christmas!" I've never celebrated the real twelve days of christmas so I was unfamiliar, as you probably are too. So like a good GenXer, I went to wikipedia.
The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning Christmas Day (25 December). This period is also known as Christmastide and Twelvetide. The Twelfth Night of Christmas is always on the evening of 5 January, but the Twelfth Day can either precede 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.
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.
See, it's more than a song!
So why don't we celebrate this in America?! One word: Commercialism.
I love it all! Except for the part of taking down the decorations on January 5th, it's family tradition to wait until closer to February 5th. :)The traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely forgotten in the United States. Contributing factors include the popularity of stories by Charles Dickens in nineteenth-century America (with their emphasis on generous gift-giving), introduction of more secular traditions over the past two centuries (such as the American Santa Claus), and the rise in popularity of New Year's Eve parties. The first day of Christmas actually terminates the Christmas marketing season for merchants, as shown by the number of "after-Christmas sales" that launch on 26 December. The commercial calendar has encouraged an erroneous assumption that the Twelve Days end on Christmas Day and must therefore begin on 14 December.
Celebrants observing the Twelve Days may give gifts on each of them, with each day of the Twelve Days representing a wish for a corresponding month of the new year. They feast and otherwise celebrate the entire time through Epiphany morning. Lighting a candle for each day has become a modern tradition in the U.S. and of course singing the appropriate verses of the famous song each day is also an important and fun part of the American celebrations. Some also light a Yule Log on the first night and let it burn some each of the twelve nights. Some Americans have their own traditional foods to serve each night.
For some, Twelfth Night remains the biggest night for parties and gift-giving. Some households exchange gifts on the first (December 25) and last (January 5) days of the season. As in olden days, Twelfth Night to Epiphany morning is then the traditional time to take down the tree and decorations.