Wednesday, January 05, 2022

On the twelfth day of Christmas


When is Christmas?

That’s not as daft a question as it may sound. Obviously, Christmas Day is 25th December. But for many people in our impatient society, Christmas Day is the culmination of Christmas, or at least the summit before a rapid downhill through Boxing Day and the relief of taking down the decorations and collapsing in a heap.

In the Church of England the season of Christmas runs, essentially, from sunset on Christmas Eve until sunset on 5th January, with the season of Epiphany (the Feast of the Epiphany is 6th January) taking up the baton. The Christmas cycle then carries on until Candlemas, on 2nd February. Many churches will take down most of their decorations now, with the crib remaining until Candlemas. I think, though I am not certain, that in the Roman Catholic church the season of Christmas runs until this coming Sunday, the Baptism of Christ, with the Christmas cycle also lasting a little longer into the Sundays before Lent. But small variations aside, what both share in common is that Christmas Day is not the end of the matter but the dawn.

Does it matter, when and how we celebrate Christmas? Well, yes and no. I really don’t think that it matters in terms of when we take down decorations, and even friendly arguments about whether that should be 5th January or 2nd February tend to miss the point.

But I do think that it matters that we, collectively, can’t bear to live in the moment. That we rush to bring the trappings of Christmas into Advent, because it is too stark; that we rush to put away Christmas, because it is too much; that we look for ways to transform our dark and dismal January lives with New Year’s Resolutions because we (think that we) need a New Me. It bothers me that we are, collectively, in such a rush.

It is still Christmas. Joy and peace be with you this day.


No comments:

Post a Comment