Christmas traditions could use another

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“The holidays,” that phrase alone strikes dread into the hearts of thousands, possibly millions of people each year. It all usually starts around Thanksgiving Day, once Thanksgiving rolls around everyone knows that Christmas is less than a month away. A time for overspending, overeating, over partying, and over indulging in just about every way imaginable.

Before I get into how starting a “new” Christmas tradition could alleviate holiday stress, let’s take a look at that old Christmas carol known as the “12 Days of Christmas.” It is more than just a cute little tune to help kids incorporate counting in with a holiday song.

In Eastern Christianity, Christmas is actually celebrated over the course of 12 days. In most versions of Eastern Christianity, the count begins on December 25 and culminates on January 5 with a feast on the Epiphany, January 6, which is the day when Jesus was supposedly baptized. Eastern Christian religions hold the baptism of Jesus to be more important than his birth, whereas Western Christian religions hold the birth of Jesus to be of higher importance.

There are variations within Eastern Christian religions on how to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Some people choose to give gifts on the first day, which is December 25, while others will give gifts on January 6, while others still, give gifts throughout the 12 days.

Please bear in mind these dates are for the religions that follow the Gregorian calendar. If the religion follows the Julian calendar, then December 25th falls on our January 7th, which means the 12 days of Christmas will take up most of our version of January.

This leads me into the “new” tradition I hinted at, at the beginning of this column.

Photo provided by author
Photo provided by author

Every year in our Western culture we have been conditioned by religious beliefs, society, and more importantly the retail world, that we must celebrate Christmas on December 25th. There is much hoopla and non-stop advertising that begins around Halloween to prepare us and condition us further into not only buying into this belief, but to also overspend to please everyone on our Christmas gift list.

However, on December 26th everything in the world of retail is greatly reduced. You can find Christmas décor at 50% to 70% off, clothing that was selling at or near full price just two days before is now being sold as “clearance” merchandise, toys are marked down, and the list goes on and on.

Therefore, why don’t we start a new tradition? Friends, family, and society expect us to exchange gifts on Christmas Day. Great, no problem. Give everyone on your list a token gift or two, then on December 26th and thereafter, go to the malls, and buy everything the people on your gift list wanted, at a fraction of the original cost.

If we all started to embrace the Eastern Christianity view of the 12 Days of Christmas we could help extend the holiday season, and spend less at the same time.

This “new” tradition could even include the Christmas tree, ornaments, and wrapping paper. There are many Christmas tree lots filled with trees on Christmas eve and at that point the trees are usually sold for 50% less. You could pick up your tree on Christmas Eve, and decorate it with ornaments from years past; then on December 26 go shopping for more ornaments at 50 to 75 percent off their regular price. In addition to ornaments, don’t forget to pick up the wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows.

Now you would have until January 5 or if you prefer, January 6 to purchase and wrap all your remaining gifts. You could choose to give small gifts everyday during the 12 days of Christmas season or just wait and give all your gifts on the final day of the season.

By giving at least a small gift or two on December 25 your children would be able to tell their friends about what Santa brought to them on that day. Later when you give them the balance of their gifts on the final day of the Christmas celebration they could tell their friends “Santa loves them so much, he visited them TWICE”!  Just think! You could start a whole new tradition amongst your circle of friends and family.

Embracing the 12 Days of Christmas concept would take the stress out of the holiday season because you would no longer be “pressured” to buy things you cannot afford nor would you be pressured to have “everything” done between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

This “new” tradition would add 12 days to your holiday calendar. You would have more time to schedule parties and family gatherings. There would be no more fighting over whose house to visit on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. There would be time for everyone, which would be the best gift of all.