The last days of Christmas

In Hispanic and Latin culture, as well as some places in Europe, it is known as Three Kings’ Day — el Dia de los Tres Reyes, la Fiesta de Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos. in the Netherlands it is known as Driekoningendag.

Here in Trinidad and Tobago, January 6 also marks Lewah, the end of the parang season. It is also the date on which all Christmas decorations are taken down and put away.

Because of differences in church calendars, mainly between the Eastern Orthodox and the western Catholic and Protestant traditions, both Christmas and Epiphany have been observed at different times in the past. While most Eastern Orthodox churches follow the western church calendar, in the Greek, Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches and locally, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church still follow the older calendar and will celebrate Epiphany as the Theophany on January 19.

Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25 until the morning of January 6, which is the Twelfth Day.

In following this older custom of counting the days beginning at sundown, this evening is regarded as the Twelfth Night, an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King’s Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany.

In Tudor England, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve—which we now celebrate as Halloween. A King or Lord of Misrule would be appointed to run the Christmas festivities, and the Twelfth Night was the end of his period of rule. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition can be traced back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.

In some countries, after Twelfth Night the Carnival season starts, which lasts through Mardi Gras. The Shakespeare play Twelfth Night, or What You Will was originally written to be performed as a Twelfth Night entertainment.

In many Protestant churches, the season of Epiphany extends from January 6 until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter. Some other Christian religions, especially the Roman Catholic church, observe Epiphany as a single day, with the Sundays following Epiphany counted as Ordinary Time. In some churches, the last Sunday of Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday.

The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal”. It commemorates the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing “reveal” Jesus to the world as Lord and King. In some Central and South American countries, Three Kings’ Day, or the night before, is the time for opening Christmas presents. In some eastern churches, Epiphany or the Theophany commemorates Jesus’ baptism, with the visit of the Magi linked to Christmas.

Little Christmas, or Nollaig Bheag in Irish, is one of the traditional names in Ireland for January 6, more commonly known in the rest of the world as the Epiphany.

It is so called because it was, until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the day on which Christmas Day was celebrated. It is also called Ukrainian Christmas.

It is the traditional end of the Christmas season and the last day of the Christmas holidays for both primary and secondary schools in Ireland. The name Little Christmas is also found in other languages, including Slovenian, where it is known as Mali Boi, and Galician, which refers to it as Nadalinho.


"The last days of Christmas"

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