Your RDA of Irony

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Why are there twelve days of Christmas?  No, Mary did not have that difficult a delivery,  despite passing a halo through the birth canal.

In fact,  it was a brilliant compromise by the Council of Tours in A.D. 567.  At the time, Western Europe was engulfed in barbarians and the Church there was eager to convert them.   It loved the marketing appeal of December 25th.  Just combine the Winter Solstice with Christmas.  “Hey, who said Christianity isn’t fun!  You can have eternal salvation and a birthday party for the Savior!”

However, the Byzantine Empire, thoroughly Christian, preferred January 6th and the more dignified Epiphany:  Christ’s official debut to the World.  (The umbilical cord should have dropped off by then.)  So the Council of Tours declared that both days—and every day in between—should be celebrated as Christmas!

There were to be 12 days of Christmas, and it was left to time, habit and locale to decide how to celebrate the ten day gap.

The Council of Tours also established conjugal rules for bishops and their wives.  So, the Council was not a complete success.


  1. Ed bedermanthanks says:

    Bad enough for presents for eight days of Hannakah…one could be bankrupt for twelve days of Christmas

  2. Mark Blitstein says:

    Interesting story. I guess they wanted the tree to stay alive for 12 days, to top the candle oil lasting only 8.
    A secular L’Shana Tova to you

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