A friend of mine grew up in the Appalachian mountains, which in those days was pretty isolated from the rest of the country. She told me that they always celebrated what she called
They didn’t decorate the tree until Christmas Day. Unlike the rest of the families I knew, who tore into their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, her family didn’t celebrate the holiday until January 6th. The significance of that day is that it is the Twelfth Day of Christmas–The Epiphany.
In Christian tradition, that is the day that the Magi found the Babe in the manger and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It seems only fitting that this would be the day gifts were exchanged. I marveled at what I considered the beauty of carrying on an old tradition.
My friend assured me, though, that from a practical standpoint exchanging gifts that late was very economical. She didn’t have to shop until after the Christmas holidays, and could take advantage of after Christmas sales. At least, that worked very well until the kiddos got big enough to demand specific gifts from Santa Claus — read that “popular” toys — the ones every other kid on the planet wanted, too. After the holidays, such gifts were difficult to find.
My kids are grown now, and scattered across the continent. I’ve thought I might like celebrating “Old Christmas,” thinking that perhaps it would be less hectic. The holiday calendars get so packed full with parties, and such (for everybody in the family) that even settling a date for the extended family to get together has become a major undertaking. Maybe celebrating would be more relaxed in January?
Ah well. It won’t happen this year, but perhaps that’s what we will try next year. I’m not sure, though. I don’t know if I can stand to look at Christmas decorations from August until mid-January!
What about you? How do you juggle all the calendars and commitments? Do you celebrate on Christmas Day? Christmas Eve? The weekend after? Do you have any special traditions? Maybe you can give me some ideas for “new traditions” for my family.