Thursday, January 06, 2022

ChristmasTide, Twelfth Night and Epiphany

I've always loved the beautiful idea and celebration of the Epiphany, or the magical day of revelation and celebration when the unknown becomes known.

But there has always been such confusion between the dates of The Twelve Days of Christmas and whether they end on January 5th or 6th depending on the country and religious beliefs.

In the UK there is the belief that the Christmas tree must come down on January 5th which is both known as 12th or Twelfth Night and the Epiphany, or the day the three Magii  (Three Kings or Wiseman) visited the Nativity. The nativity or the birth place of the Christ Child. This dating is based on counting all consecutive 12 days without adding in a transitional day some countries add in between. 

In the US and many other countries the dating adds in that transitional day and Epiphany falls on January 6th.

Historically, the dating is the result of an early religious proclamation.  In 567 the Council of Tours proclaimed that the entire period between Christmas and Epiphany should be considered part of the celebration, creating what became known as the twelve days of Christmas, or what the English called Christmastide

On the last of the twelve days, called Twelfth Night, various cultures developed a wide range of additional special festivities. The variation extends even to the issue of how to count the days. 

If Christmas Day is the first of the twelve days, then Twelfth Night would ondeed be on January 5, the eve of Epiphany. If December 26, the day after Christmas, is the first day, then Twelfth Night falls on January 6, the evening of Epiphany itself.

But then it became even more complicated as some Christian religion follow additional beliefs.

My head is spinning. I took down all of my Santa Clauses and all of my snowmen but left my tied burlap love knots and Tibetan bells and the always mystical little strands of light. 

But I got out my dozens of homemade strip pieced calico hearts in my woodsy colors of dark greens, rusts, blues and creams with tiny black bows and cream and tortoise shell toned baby buttons and added them to the tree as I often do with my Blessings Tree in November. I also have ripped calico love knots that match my pieced hearts. Hmmmmmm.

I have my bowl of gold, Frankinsence, and myrrh to represent the Three Kings. And I always light a candle in the window to light the way. And sometimes in the sewing nook as well!

For me Epiphany is January 6th. 

But now about that ChristmasTide Tree? Do I take it all down just a week later as my 12th Night/Epiphany Tree or call it Love and Blessings and leave it up into February?

Decisions, decisions, decisions. What do you do? Is your tree still up,  long gone or in the process? 

I love it all. I get out my laces and ribbons and antique Valentine hearts in preparation for February. 

And how much is based on personal beliefs or preferences? Hmm Holiday "holi-days" might be every day for me!

Oh joy! 

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands


  1. I never learned about the 12 days of Epiphany growing up, so have never celebrated it! I was raised in an Episcopal Church too. Hum.m.m.m my decorations are still up though.. it never seems right to me to take them down so soon after Jesus's birthday... I like to continue it on into January, usually until the 15th or so. That seems to be the magic day for me! I always contemplate leaving my tree up all year, with just the lights, and then decorating it for the various holidays, but my house is small and it takes up alot of room, so I usually take it down. No one here but me now so guess I can do what I want, right??? xoxo Marilyn

  2. Thank you so much for sharing Marilyn. So many readers have had similar experiences that it truly creates a connection for others to know they're not the only ones! That's the beauty and gift of sharing as well as commenting!


  3. I always take my decorations down on the Epiphany, for me that's 12th Night! I have to leave them up on the 5th as it's my birthday. Have to have the tree & lights up for that!

    I love the Spanish way of giving their presents on the Epiphany just as the Magi gave their presents. Makes more sense and is less dependent on the secular Santa Claus story.

    Why on earth people take their lights & decorations down after Boxing Day beats me. It always looks so gloomy when you take the tree & lights down especially on these dark mornings. I would love to leave it up all year. Maybe I should get a little tree that I could leave up in the conservatory

  4. Happy Belated Birthday dear Winifred!

    I so agree with your comments on my post. I ended up taking my tree down on our Epiphany the 6th.

    The decision based on my difficulties in moving large bins of garlands down the stairs and into storage without help. I get it out alone and up alone but somehow the last undoing seems sadder and therefore more challenging.

    I want it to stay and I miss the lights and the wonderful spirit of the holidays so much once everything is put away.

    As my husband said "it sure looks empty in here!" My 4 year old granddaughter says "Grandma your living room is too dark now!"

    And promptly moved her bin of toy dishes and doilies and little animals into my more brightly lit but much smaller kitchen.

    We all miss Christmas! It's about so much more than presents!

    May January have bright days of joy for all of us and not just cold and wind! We will find our own ways to create and bring in a little light!