January 6 -- The 12 Days of Christmas officially ended yesterday. Now, most of us in this century have left Christmas behind long ago (or so it seems), around the 26th or 27th of December. So what's with these 12 days? Well, in the Medieval Church calendar (back when there was only one church in most of Europe--the Roman Catholic Church--and by the way "catholic" merely means "universal") the Christmas Season began on Dec. 25 and extended through Jan.5.
In fact, Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night" was written for a celebration of the last day of Christmas. In our modern world, we can't take 12 full days for Christmas (usually). Another story I've heard is that as long as the Yule Log burned, the masters had to serve their servants, in observance of Christmas (the way Jesus came to be a servant, right?). No wonder they went out and got the hugest log they could find! The longer it burned, the longer the celebration--and service from the master!
So now what? Well, Jan.6 marks the beginning of The Feast of the Epiphany. What does that big word mean, you ask? Well, it's like an enlightenment or a revelation. Remember the old cartoons of a person with a light bulb over their head, showing they had a idea? That's an epiphany. And so, this feast on Jan. 6 marks when the Magi came to worship the Christ Child. They had "seen the light" of His star in the east! (By the way, in some countries, like Spain, children had to wait until Jan 6, The Feast of the Epiphany, to open their presents!)
Throughout the 6 weeks of the Epiphany Season (which ends at Ash Wednesday, by the way--more to come on that later...), the Bible lessons traditionally focus on ways we "see the light" of the promised Messiah in Jesus. For example, when he turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana, Galilee; or when his true glory was revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration; or when he was baptized in the Jordan River, and the Holy Spirit came down on him from heaven, in the form of a dove.
Actually Epiphany has become one of my favorite seasons of the traditional church year. It is a good way to focus on how special Christ is, and how much he can change our lives, when we let him. It also helps me get over the Post-Holiday Blahs!
So there you are: why I've been such a 'bean counter' these past couple of months. It's one way to make winter seem more pleasant, I think. What better way to get through the long, dark nights of winter! Have YOU seen the light?
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Okay, it's almost Midnight here, so I can go ahead and put in my plug for the Eleventh Day of Christmas, which is (according to my favorite version) eleven Pipers Piping. Now I think that could be musicians OR plumbers, don't you think? The first would be more melodious than the second, unless the musicians were fourth graders just learning to play recorders! I think 12+ years of that are what has given me Tinnitis, constant ringing in my ears. Oh well, some of them actually learned to play the things! I prefer to think of all the lives I touched with music. It was worth it!