When Do the Twelve Days of Christmas Start?

Here's a hint: it's not in Advent

A partridge in a pear tree. (Stockbyte/Getty Images)
Stockbyte/Getty Images

Perhaps it's been going on my entire life, but I first noticed the phenomenon a few years ago. Starting on December 13 or 14, depending on how mathematically/calendrically challenged the particular blogger or business is, the countdown to Christmas begins: "On the First Day of Christmas [we put this on sale | I recapped the top stories of January | etc.]."

Except, of course, that December 13 is the Feast of Saint Lucy and December 14 is the Feast of Saint John of the Cross, and neither day is the "First Day of Christmas," because they both fall in Advent.

On the First Day of Christmas . . . 

The First Day of Christmas is . . . Christmas Day. Why is this so hard for people to grasp? No one thinks that the First Day of Easter is Ash Wednesday or Palm Sunday or Good Friday. Everyone knows that Easter starts on . . . Easter Sunday.

So why do so many people have such a hard time understanding that the Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day and run through the eve of Epiphany? Is it any wonder that we're all ready to take down the Christmas tree on Christmas Day, what with all the partridges, pear trees, golden rings, lords a-leaping, and maids a-milking which we've had foisted on us starting on December 13 or 14?

Keep Christ in Christmas by Keeping Advent in Advent

Here's a novel concept: Let's keep Christ in Christmas, and Advent in Advent. Let's celebrate all 12 days of Christmas—at their proper time. Let's light the Advent wreath now, pray our Saint Andrew Christmas Novena, spend some time with the Prophet Isaiah in our Advent Scripture readings, and genuinely prepare the way for the Lord to come into our souls.

And then, when Christmas comes, we can party like there's no tomorrow. Except there will be one. And another. And yet another.

For twelve whole days.

Now that sounds like a Christmas to remember.

P.S. Next time you see some blog or website refer to the 12 days before Christmas as the Twelve Days of Christmas, leave a comment and include a link to this article. We can win the War on Advent (and through it, the War on Christmas) through some well-planned guerrilla action, one blog at a time.

P.P.S. Best wishes for a blessed Advent—and, when the time comes, a very merry Christmas.

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Your Citation
Richert, Scott P. "When Do the Twelve Days of Christmas Start?" Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, learnreligions.com/twelve-days-of-christmas-3970730. Richert, Scott P. (2021, February 8). When Do the Twelve Days of Christmas Start? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/twelve-days-of-christmas-3970730 Richert, Scott P. "When Do the Twelve Days of Christmas Start?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/twelve-days-of-christmas-3970730 (accessed June 10, 2023).