Merry Christmas! Today is the second day in Christmastide, a wonderful season that begins on Christmas Day and continues until the eve of Epiphany. Freya Jaffke, in her wonderful book, “Celebrating the Festivals With Children”, writes:
During the twelve or thirteen Holy Nights that follow Christmas, the events of Christmas continue to resonate; and it is a lovely custom for children if candles are lit each day, with singing, music making and perhaps a reading. This period is set apart from the rest of the year, and can be a time when we gather our strength for the year ahead. Nothing urgent needs to be done, and we can really take time for things. Children are deeply satisfied if mother or father sits down beside them with some craftwork, or perhaps join in a game now and then. In contrast to the summer when we like going outdoors, we feel very comfortable at home in the warmth – apart from winter walks and the fun of snow when it comes.
We can celebrate the twelve days of Christmastide with children by using candles or a ring with twelve hearts or a simple Advent type calendar adapted to the twelve days of Christmas. This becomes a nice way to bring children down gently from Christmas and to continue the joy and wonder society too often associates with just a single day.
Instructions to make a Christmas ring can be found in both “All Year Round” and “Celebrating Irish Festivals”. There are instructions to make a “postcard” calendar for the twelve days of Christmastide, each window representing a month of the year, ie, the first card would represent January and be opened on the first day of Christmastide, the second card would represent February and be opened on the second day of Christmas. I would like to do this and follow the Church Year calendar to be represented on these cards. Maybe I can do this in time for next year!
Today is also St. Stephen’s Day, and in Ireland and other places this is a time of fasting, a day to visit friends, a time to walk and feed the birds. “Celebrating Irish Festivals” talks about the custom of the Wren Boys in Ireland and the mummer’s play. Today is a wonderful day to make treats for our feathered friends in honor of St. Stephen!
If you are careful to celebrate Advent as a preparation, this time of Christmastide in its fullness can hold such incredible joy and fun. Each day the family can gather around the Christmas tree for singing and readings and to play old-fashioned games. Some families like to craft window stars, rose windows and transparencies during this sacred time. Many families also spread out their gift-giving and acts of generous kindness to other family members amongst the twelve days of Christmas, which is another wonderful tradition.
Many blessings to you as you celebrate these days,