Nugget of Knowledge: 12 Days of Christmas origin

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Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – When are the 12 Days of Christmas? Is it a countdown? Is Christmas the 12th day or does it work some other way?

In Western Christianity, “Christmas” actually begins on December 25 and ends on January 5.

According to liturgy, the 12 Days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, January 6th.

That’s when the Magi came with their gifts. This is also called “Twelfth Night.”

So there are your 12 Days, but what about the song itself?

It appears to come from France and was first printed in England in 1780. A first edition sold at auction for $23,000.

Most historians believe that the song was meant as a memory game for children.

When it’s your turn, you repeat all the previous lyrics, and add the next one. If you can’t remember a verse, you owe your opponent a “forfeit,” which is usually candy or a kiss.

You may have heard this theory: during a time when Christians were punished for worshiping openly, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song was used to secretly pass on Christian theology

You may have heard the theory that during a time when Christians were punished for worshiping openly, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song was used to secretly pass on Christian theology.

However, there is no historical document we’ve found to confirm this and we only started mentioning it in the 1990’s.

Sing it for what it is: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with images of gifts and dancing and music.

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