The 12 Days of Christmas

Comments: 5

I thought today, I would deviate from some of my usual posting subjects and talk a little about Christmas.

How many of you (all 1 or 2 of you can raise your hands) know where the "12 Days of Christmas" idea came from?

Most of us think the 12 Days of Christmas begins on December 13 and goes through the 25th. I know I've participated in "12 Days of Christmas" activities by bringing gifts to the less fortunate. It's fun and exciting to see the smiles of unsuspecting children as they open their front doors on a frosty evening to see a box of gifts and goodies and food from some anonymous giver. It's also fun to find ways to be deceptive as we ring the door bell and run to some pre-determined hiding place before we get caught. I love it all - giving. It's a great tradition.

But that isn't how the "12 Days of Christmas" began. Historically, the 12 Days of Christmas actually began on December 25 and ended on January 6. Huh? I know you all (all 1 or 2 of you) are thinking, where did that idea come from?

In the Catholic tradition, January 6th is the Day of Epiphany. So, what is that, you might ask. Again, according to Catholic tradition, it is the day the Wise Men had an epiphany, or that "Ah, hah!" moment, when they realized Jesus was the Christ, and brought him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It's supposedly the day they visited, and worshiped, the Christ Child, again, supposedly, in the stable.

Realistically, however, we as Latter Day Saints, don't necessarily believe the Wise Men visited Jesus in the stable. I think Joseph and Mary would have moved him by then, even if it were only 12 days later. More realistically however, is that the Wise Men probably visited him nearly two years later. The scriptures tell us of Herod, King of the Jews, killing all children in Nazareth (not Bethlehem, two years of age and younger in an attempt to destroy his competition -- Jesus. When the Wise Men visited Jesus, the scriptures tell us they entered the house, Jesus' house, where he was living as a child with his mother Mary and step father Joseph, and it says he was a child, not a baby.

Still, the story is basically true. Wise Men did come to the realization that Jesus is the Christ and brought Him gifts. Today, wise men still have an epiphany and come to the realization that Jesus is the Christ, and they still bring him gifts: "broken heart and contrite spirit." We also give him gifts when we help the less fortunate.

Let's hope at this Christmas season we all remember who we are, sons and daughters of deity, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we're all in this mess, called mortality, together. We need to help each other, we're expected, even commanded to help each other, and come before our Savior with a broken heart and contrite spirit so we can inherit ALL He has -- the Celestial Kingdom of God.

I pray you all will have a wonderful Christmas.

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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, December 18, 2008

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  1. Thanks Dad. That was a beautiful thought. These things have been on my mind lately as well as we seek the Lord's will in Joel's job search. Faith is also something we all should work on. Thanks again. Love ya!

  2. We all need to exercise more faith. You are always in my prayers too, kid. Especially at this time when Joel is seeking the right position in the right place (town). I'm praying the Lord's will be done. I know (have faith) that He will direct your paths.

    Love you too,

  3. I believe the same, that Jesus was not visited in a stable. Beautiful post!

  4. Thanks Rene. I appreciate your posts too.

  5. Nice Paul. I'm glad to know the story behind the story. I thought you'd be interested to know what one BYU professor said about the gifts the Wise Men brought. He believed that they were expensive gifts, designed to help finance the new born King's coming kingdom. Very interesting. It does make one wonder what happened to those gifts over the years. Being the Christ child's family it wasn't wasted, I'm sure.