Twelfth Night ~ The Eve of Epiphany

"Now Christmas is Past
Twelfth Night is the Last
To the Old Year - Adieu

The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" refers to the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and is not exactly what it appears to be . . .
The songs "gifts" are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith - in a time when it was a crime to be Catholic.  The "true love" mentioned in the song refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person and the partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The other symbols mean the following:
  • 2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
  • 3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
  • 4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
  • 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
  • 6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
  • 7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
  • 8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
  • 9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • 10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
  • 11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
  • 12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
- from The Origins of The Twelve Days of Christmas
 

". . . in many Catholic homes, it's not Christmas Day that is for giving presents to children, but the Feast of Epiphany, when the gifts are given in a way related to the Magi. So today will have a "feel" of Christmas Eve, and because of the Epiphany's association with the Magis' gift-giving, tomorrow is often referred to colloquially as the "Little Christmas." It is today that the Three Kings should reach the creche (heretofore, they should be kept away from it) and that Baby Jesus should be adorned with signs of royalty, such as a crown, ermine, and gold or purple cloth. Set up golden candlesticks around the manger where He lies. Along with the crowns, scepters, gold, and royal purple, peacocks are also a symbol for the day. They are more generally a symbol of immortality (and therefore a good symbol for Easter, too), but also a symbol of royalty and of the glory revealed by Christ today. The most profound symbols of all, though, are light as a symbol of theophany; wine in memory of the miracle at the wedding in Cana; water and the dove in memory of Christ's Baptism by St. John; the Three Kings, their gifts, and the Star of Bethlehem . . . " -fisheaters

Waverly Fitzgerald writes on The School of the Seasons website . . . "Children who awaken to find a charcoal mark on their face are said to have been kissed by Balthazar. Since the twelve nights of Christmas are a liminal time, when evil spirits, like the Greek kalikatzari, can roam the earth, people protect their houses by chalking the Three King’s initials C (or K), B and M (for Caspar, Balthazar and Melchoir) on their doors. . ."

O God, you once used a star to show to all the world that Jesus is your Son. May the light of that star that once guided wise men to his birth, now guide us to recognize HIM in the daily experiences of our lives.  As we go about our work, our study, our play, keep us in its light and in your love.  Bless this house and all who inhabit it. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness and the keeping of your law. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.