What Happened to Little Christmas ?

Before Halloween is over, the stores are filling up with Christmas decorations, leaving only a very small mention of Thanksgiving to be seen. People decorate for Christmas right after the Thanksgiving day meal has been cleared from the table and then by the day after Christmas they are sick of the decorations, sick of the Christmas music and down comes the tree and the manger scene on December 26 th. When Emery and I first got married and for most of our early years, we never decorated for Christmas until around the 8th of December, in keeping with how it was in my parents home. Now, we have caved in to the mass marketing and get the decoration up right after the turkey has been eaten. However, in the midst of this rush to get Christmas out of the box, something has been lost. We called it "Little Christmas" growing up, and others refer to it as Epiphany, celebrated on the 6th of January. My mother would always share with us the story of the Magi and how it is by their bringing of gifts to the baby Jesus that we now share gift giving on Christmas day.
So here many people are in this modern time, sick to death of Christmas decorations by the time Christmas rolls around, anxious to pack them away and have the house back to "normal" and forgetting all about this "Little Christmas" where the wise men came to see the baby Jesus.
One more spiritual aspect of Christmas thrown out the door or lost in the commericalism and the Santa aspect of the holiday. I guess its easy to want to be done with a holiday that has become so much about shopping and spending money, the day its over, but we have lost something in the glitter of fancy packages and decorated trees, to coin a phrase, we have lost some of "the reason for the season" ! My vote is to keep Christmas alive until Epiphany, Christmas is a season and not just a day.

Comments

Yes, Yes, Patti, you are so right. We always followed Hungarian traditions while my kids were growing up and Baby Jesus brought the tree and gifts on the 24th. Epiphany is 12th Night and we never took the tree down before that. Often after, in fact. And even now, I didn't finish decorating my little tabletop potted Norfolk Island Pine until Christmas Eve....I think Advent should be for anticipation. But it isn't that easy to swim against the tide......Still, things do change, and you may be part of bringing about that change, Patti.
Carole said…
Epiphany ! We celebrate it here by eating a "pie" (galette des rois) where a little ceramic object is hidden. The person who gets the piece with it is the King of the day and gets the paper crown that is sold with the pie.
Isn't there any such tradition in the US ?
Marci said…
The Amish around here celebrate that day instead of the 25th of December. They call it Old Christmas.
Amy said…
One of the great things about being a Catholic is that we celebrate Christmas until Epiphany - we even have a holy day of obligation on January 1 (Mary, Mother of God).

My birthday is today, so that also makes it feel like our celebrations extend from Christmas until Epiphany.
We decorate right after Thanksgiving - which gives us lots and lots of time to share the season with our friends and family. Decorations go down right after christmas - or when the last out of town guests leave - but it has nothing to do with commercialization. Many of us like the look of a clean house and sparkling windows to celebrate the new year - bringing in good cheer and more family and friends time. We can celebrate on January 6th - with or without decorations. I grew up in Alaska and we always had the January 6th celebration with our Russian neighbors and friends. The most celebrated event was the holiday tea, lots of hot tea in samovars, Russian teacakes, visiting friends, having tea together at home and in other houses - there was lots of celebrating, but they did not insist on the christmas decorations from the 25th in order to celebrate Jan. 6. We found it to be a special celebration with its own decorations of snow and ice - blue and silver - and lots of other sparkly bright decorations. Children always cut out delicate and intricate snowflakes for the tables and to hang from the ceilings, and glitter adorned everything - ocassionally the teacakes caught a bit of the glitter - it was a special time and we still celebrate with our grandsons. There are many ways to celebrate during the season of holidays, and even buying gifts is a celebration of our love for friends and family.
Rosemary said…
We celebrate Little Christmas, or the Epiphany. We do not take our tree down until after the 12th night. We do put up Christmas decorations early in December, but not the tree. The tree is done Christmas Eve. Of course, I am 63 and "old-fashioned", but it suits are family just fine.
Joanie said…
We didn't celebrate this in my "growing up years" nor had we ever heard it in the many different Christian churches we've attended over the years ~ however, when I mentioned on facebook that I was ready to take the decorations down and clean up the house, my husband's former boss asked why when the season isn't over until January 6th? He explained and I was stunned... Why hadn't I heard of this before? The 12 days of Christmas had just begun and now it was the season to celebrate the birth of Christ! So, I'm rejoicing in learning of Epiphany and a new tradition begins for our family...
Linda said…
I don't do any decorating until the first Sunday of Advent. I think it's terrible that Thanksgiving is ignored in the rush for Christmas decorating--and then it's all about eating and football! I put up the tree on my birthday (2 weeks before Christmas) and the decorations stay up through Epiphany. We always have a Twelfth Night party on the Saturday nearest to January 6. It also irritates me how advertisers make people think the 12 days of Christmas are the 12 days before Christmas.
Deanna said…
Our son's birthday is January 10th and ever since he was very little he has requested that we leave the tree up for his birthday. We always oblige. Sometimes I take down some of the other decorations before that but I always have at least the tree still up. That is one of the reasons I refuse to decorate until at least a week or two into December. Plus, I like Thanksgiving to really have some focus and not just rush into Christmas. I do plan to observe Epiphany in some way this year but haven't decided exactly how. And I'm going to host a "after the holiday craziness" party on the 8th...another reason to leave the decorations up. I do love to thoroughly clean and declutter after I put the decorations away but I'm willing to wait a bit for that.
swedishcowboy said…
We Swede's officially start Christmas on December 13 -- Lucia Day and end it on January 13 -- Knutsdagen -- when the edible ornaments on the tree are finally all eaten and there is much dancing and singing and the tree is cleared and then traditionally thrown out the window.

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