Part of a series on the traditions of Christmas
The twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas day and end on January 6th, which is called the Epiphany, the day we remember the visit of the Wise Men to Jesus. Earlier generations wouldn’t have seen Christmas as a day but season of twelve days, which would certainly take the pressure off Christmas day itself.
The period between Christmas and Epiphany was the time to celebrate. It was a time of feasting and a time when the rich were supposed to share what they had with the poor.
December 26th is St Stephen’s Day, in Britain known as Boxing Day. It got the name from the day that the poor boxes in churches were opened and the Christmas gift or Christmas box was given to the servants in rich households. The carol Good King Wenceslas tells of one action of kindness to the poor on Boxing Day. Although there was a King Wenceslas, or a least a Prince of Bohemia of that name, the story is totally fictional, made up by the Victorian priest John Mason Neale to promote charitable action.
The end the twelve days is Twelfth Night, a night for a final party and the traditional time to take down the decorations and get back to the real world.