Treasures on Tuesdays: December 25 to January 6
Dear Diva Readers,
love the holiday season with the days between Christmas and New Years being my favorite days of the year. This is when I’m gathered with those closest to me during my annual sejourn to America. But did you know that December 25 hasn’t always been Chistmas Day? Even the date of the celebration of the birth of Christ has fluctuated. Until the Roman church adopted December 25 in the 4th century, January 6 was the day of celebration — the day we now celebrate Epiphany or Heilige Drei Könige – the German name for the “3 Wise Men”. To this day, the initials of the Three Kings — C+M+B (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) — plus the year are inscribed in chalk over doorways in German-speaking countries on the eve of January 6 to protect house and home. Historically, the three letters are supposed to come from the Latin phrase for “Christus mansionem benedicat” (Christ Bless This House) – few of the people practicing this custom are aware of this fact.
In many parts of Europe, including Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, the Christmas celebration does not end until this date. How fitting that January 6 is the day I will return home to Europe after spending a month in America. Today, January 6 is considered the arrival of the three “kings of the orient” in Bethlehem — and the end of the “twelve days of Christmas” between Christmas and January 6.
In Germany, Christmas lasts for 12 days: from Dec 25 to Jan 6. Each of The 12 Days of Christmas has special meaning, with the final day celebrating the gifts of the 3 Wise Men. On this day, people celebrate by lighting incense & placing them in German smokers to mark the end of the Christmas season.
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