It’s January 13th, and we still have Christmas lights blazing every night outside our house. A pine tree scents the living room, and a turkey’s sharing space with roast potatoes in the oven: Christmas dinner, again!
We have a good excuse though. Our oldest son’s a doctor and he worked through the holidays. But now he’s home and it’s time to celebrate. Still, d’you suppose it’s really okay to have Christmas in January?
I know the Christmas season starts on the night of December 24th (’cause it’s Advent before). But when is the first night, and when’s twelfth night, and when do the decorations have to come down? Is Epiphany still part of Christmas? Is “after Epiphany” too? I turned to Google to figure it out.
Google is my friend, of course. I ask Google lots of questions when I’m editing my stories: When did people start using cell-phones, for example, so I can decide how they’ll contact each other in my novel. I ask what cars they drove in the States in the 70s–since I grew up in England it’s not much good trying to sift through my memories. I let Google tell me how far it is to drive from A to B, and what the weather was like in early spring of 1963. Google helps me fact-check those details so my stories can grow. It also let me know that:
- Christmas really does begin with a first night on Christmas Eve (in the West anyway)
- which means twelfth night ends on the morning of January 6th
- when the season of Epiphany starts. But Epiphany’s still part of Christmas, which continues on until
- the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, on the first Sunday after Epiphany (yesterday), or, in older traditions,
- on Candle-mass, known as the Festival of Light, or feast of the Purification of Mary (40 days after the birth of her son) and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
40 days (ah, dreams of Lent and Easter here) takes us to February 2nd, which means I’m perfectly (or anciently) traditional, still celebrating my Christmas for weeks to come. That said, I’ll probably take down the tree when our son goes back to work–it’s shedding needles far and wide, and they’re getting pretty hard to sweep off the floor.
So… When did you take down your tree if you had one? When did all the Christmas lights go out in your neighborhood? Which season are you most looking forward to celebrating next? And is Google your friend?
Happy Christmas, New Year, Epiphany, Candlemass and more!
Sheila Deeth is the author of three contemporary novels, Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and Imaginary Numbers, all coming soon from Second Wind Publishing. She loves numbers, writing, reading, cats and dogs, amongst other things, and calls herself a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. She rather likes Christmas too! And Google is her friend.