So this year was going to be the year that our household went full throttle on Advent traditions. I planned the advent calendar. I planned the advent wreath. I planned the advent meals and fastings and weaving in all sorts of historic advent traditions.
And then we did none of that.
I was so busy and stressed (a good kind of stress) from getting used to new work hours, the commute and the job itself that I just couldn’t work up the energy to go gangbusters on Advent. The opportunities passed us by. We didn’t even have time to go to but one small Christmas party.
As far as Christmastide (i.e. the 12 days of Christmas which begin Christmas day and go through January 5th) and the Epiphany, we typically celebrate on Christmas day with the traditional presents and meal with family/friends and then hold an epiphany dinner on the 6th of January. The Epiphany Feast celebrates the coming of the Magi to the Christ Child.
This year I indulged in more research on the traditional celebrations of Advent & Christmastide in our Christian faith heritage and found out to my delight that celebrating over the *entire* Christmastide period is called for. As advent is traditionally a time for preparing for Christ with fasting, solemn prayers, etc, Christmastide is a time for celebrating Christ. You need more than just one day for such a glorious occasion, especially to balance out the quiet preparations of the heart over the advent weeks. Hence the TWELVE days of Christmas.
We are celebrating the 12 days of Christmas with a dinner party each evening in our home. On the second day of Christmas, we had two people at our table in total. Today is the third day of Christmas and we will have three people. And so it will continue through the 12th and final day of Christmas. Each meal will be fun and fabulous with a casual celebratory ambiance. We will still hold our traditional formal Epiphany feast on the 6th of January with the fine china, fancy food and high ceremony.
The older I get the more I find comfort and peace in Christian rituals such as these. Rituals should not substitute for faith but can add to our faith practice, pointing us toward God as we engage in them joyfully.