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Home UK Christmas World Archive The Holiday Known As The Twelfth Night

The Holiday Known As The Twelfth Night

We're all familiar with the '12 days of Christmas' traditionally beginning on Christmas day, a celebration of Christmas is carried out for 12 days. However there are underwhelming amount of people who have not heard of the history behind what is called the 'Twelfth Night' or the conclusion of the 12 days of Christmas. 

Woman carrying Box of Christmas Decorations

The actual definition in the dictionary for the "Twelfth Night" is "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking"

In many English speaking countries several superstitions regarding leaving any decorations up in or around your home after the 'twelfth night' is considered to be bad luck. 

As with Christmas as a whole, there are many traditions that accommodate the twelfth night many of them revolving around various types of foods. Here in the UK a common tradition is to drink a special punch called Wassail which is consumed throughout Christmas but especially on the twelfth night. 

glass mug of mulled christmas punch with plums

Scanning the globe you will find several countries consuming special pastries such as the Tortell and the King Cake. These are generally baked on the twelfth night and then consumed the day after during the feast known as the Epiphany Celebrations. 

Traditionally in colonial America, it was a common tradition to leave a special Christmas wreath up on a door which was then to be taken down at the end of the 12 days of Christmas or on the twelfth night. During the 19th and 20th centuries fresh fruit were a luxury and hard to come by. Therefore they were commonly used as decorations on Christmas trees and wreaths to decorate the home. 

Over here in the UK 12 days after Christmas is commonly known as 'time to take the Christmas decorations down' day. However there is a lot more history to it than that as we have just discussed. Christmas time is a fascinating time of year, full of beautiful traditions, colour and wonderful decorations celebrated differently all over the world.  

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