It’s still Christmas

We visited our niece and her family in Roanoke, Virginia, last weekend and were struck to see everyone’s Christmas tree lying on the curb on January 1.
Christmas sure ended early there.
It must be because there are few people in Roanoke with Eastern European roots, I reasoned, unable to come up with a better explanation for ending the holiday season so abruptly.
We always kept our tree and decorations up until “Little Christmas” on January 6, and still do. I’m not sure we knew exactly why except that it seemed a good idea to extend the holiday as long as possible. Why not?
It was not until I got into the newspaper business and was assigned a story on “Russian Christmas” that I looked more deeply into it. For starters, I learned that Little Christmas and Russian Christmas are not the same. As a kid I thought they were.
Christmas in Russia, and for some Americans of Russian descent, is celebrated on January 7 because of the Julian calendar which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar.
Little Christmas is a different story. It is celebrated in various countries and observed by many in America on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. That is the day the Magi, or Three Wise Men, are said to have visited the baby Jesus bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Because of this, in many cultures where Christmas is celebrated on December 25, gifts are not exchanged until January 6.
And, with advanced apologies for planting the song in anyone’s head, the Twelve Days of Christmas traditionally begin on December 25 and end on January 5, the eve of the Epiphany.
All I know is in my house we keep our tree up and our holiday spirit alive as long as we can.
No partridges in pear trees, however.

Ed Ackerman