12 days of Christmas more than just a song

Did you know that “The 12 Days of Christmas” is more than a song? It actually is the number of days that Christmas was celebrated in years past.

Believe it or not, Christmas did not always begin with Black Friday shopping right after Thanksgiving. Oh, wait? I think many stores were open on Thanksgiving already, waiting for the rush of customers to fight their way in and grab up all those so-called bargains.

A lot of people seem to enjoy that sort of thing. As you can tell by these columns, I am not one of them. To me, that has never been what Thanksgiving or Christmas has ever been about. The greatest gift I ever received was found in a manger in Bethlehem. Other things are nice but not required.

I will admit that I try to get my outside Christmas lights out prior to the deep freeze weather. Yes, I did plug them in right after Thanksgiving, but the rest of Christmas waits longer.

It seems people are always in a hurry these days. In years past, it was common to put up the tree on Christmas Eve; now people often throw them outside on the day after Christmas. But actually, the 12 days of Christmas went until Jan. 5 in years past.

That is the day known among Christians as Epiphany Eve. Also, contrary to modern thought, the Wise Men did not come until Jesus was at least a few months old. Luke 2:11 says, “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.”

Even during my own childhood, I can remember going to visit family throughout these 12 days of Christmas. I know my own mother would make food ahead to have on hand for any company that would come to visit. Of course, no one went away hungry no matter the time of year. She had an ample supply of home-canned fruits and vegetables in the basement, and usually fresh baked bread on hand.

We didn’t have a telephone, nor a computer, and could not text each other. So people just sort of dropped in on each other. I know we would sometimes plan to do chores a bit earlier so we could go to visit someone, and I am sure the others would do much the same. Of course, at times we would arrive and no one was home, but that never seemed to be upsetting to us.

Most visiting was done by going to an aunt and uncle’s house, or to visit Grandpa Nuske. There were also neighbors and friends who would visit us, and we would visit in turn. Most birthdays were celebrated in this way.

It seems, now that there is television and other distractions, people no longer visit in this manner. I admit my home is not always in a state to receive visitors. At times, it can get into turmoil. This is usually when I am cleaning through things, or getting ready for holidays.

Now that the New Year is upon us once again, perhaps at least one of our resolutions should be to recall some the traditions from the past as well.