The stockings hang limp and empty. Wrapping paper liters the living room floor. The little Jesus figure sleeps quietly nestled in his little manger. Christmas is over. Or is it? Traditionally, the Catholic Church sets aside the twelve days after Christmas as a period of celebration, leading to the arrival of the Magi on the feast of the Epiphany. Christmas is not a feast day to simply make it to and move on! It is a HUGE celebration to mark the beginning (or almost the beginning) of the liturgical year and the coming of our Lord!
You may have heard of the twelve days of Christmas, but if you’re short on some turtledoves, maids a’ milking or french hens and leaping lords, you may be wondering how exactly you can celebrate this time and set it apart. Here are a few tips on how to keep the Christmas spirit going for twelve more days.
Keep Your Tree Up
Don’t pack up the ornaments just yet! Leave your Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations up through the twelve days after Christmas. Make a point to sit by the tree and take in the glow of the lights. Think about Jesus, the Light of the World, who is still with us. It’s the best Christmas gift for which we could ever ask!
Do you have a nativity scene in your home? Are all the players—Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, ox and the lambs, the three kings—there together at the birth of Christ? Try taking your kings and setting them across the room from the nativity scene and every day (for twelve days after Christmas) move them a little bit closer until they reach the creche on the feast of the Epiphany. This can be fun for kids too! Every morning they can search to see the progress the kings made while moving ever closer to the Lord. A great example of how to stay focused on our Lord and always seek to be by his side.
The radio stations may have stopped the Christmas music on December 26th, but don’t let that stop the beat! Continue to play Christmas music throughout your house and sing carols in the car. St. Augustine said “When you sing, you pray twice” so keep the harmonies (regardless of how melodic they are) coming and sing with the choirs of angels in praise for the birth of Jesus.
King cakes can take many different forms around the world, but the concept is the same. A round or crown shaped cake (bunt cake or similar) is baked and in the dough is a tiny baby Jesus figurine. Depending on the region or family tradition, King Cakes can be covered in dried fruit (common in Latin America), filled with fruit (common in France), or covered in purple, green and gold frosting (known as The New Orleans King Cake). Once you choose your preferred type of cake and it is ready to serve. Choose one family member to cut the pieces of cake while everyone is in the other room. Place the pieces at each spot around the table and invite the rest of the family in. Everyone picks their chair and their piece of cakes and seeks to find Jesus. In our house, if you find Jesus, you get to pick what’s for dinner the next night, and there’s no complaining allowed from the rest!