Conservatory’s Church Music Department: What are “The Twelve Days of Christmas?”

Everyone knows that Navidad/Christmas begins on 25 December, correct?  No, unfortunately many, if not most, people don’t know that based on society’s behaviour and silly traditions.  Advent — which is most of the month of December — is ignored except in churches of the Anglican Communion, (Roman) Catholic, Lutheran, and maybe some Methodist traditions.

Hola a todos.  Talking by email with some of the organ majors in the Conservatory’s Church Music Department, this topic came up.  They remember what they played in 2019 for Advent — they’re playing nothing this year due to the COVID pandemic — and then for the Navidad Liturgy and then for Epiphany.  I said that from my experience, most people don’t even know what Advent is.  The same for The Epiphany.  And in the public’s mind, Christmas is the entire month of December for the most part.  This thinking isn’t helped by some Anglican Choirmasters programming some — what are technically — Christmas carols in the Advent Procession of Lessons and Carols, such as “Hark, the Herald.”  That’s not an Advent hymn.  Yet that hymn sometimes gets sneaked into the Advent Procession maybe so that the trebles (boys and or girls) can practise their (hopefully) glorious descant.  Mi amigo/My friend asked:  Do the Southern Baptist sing  “Hark, the Herald?”  Yes they do, but they sing it during Advent leading up to Christmas.  But to them Christmas is really only one day or at most a week to some.  They think of “the Christmas Season” rather than The Twelve Days.  I can hear them now, “those Twelve Days are some of that Catholic stuff.”  And I’ve never heard a descant sung in a SB church on that hymn.  And I probably wouldn’t want to.  Who wants to hear Mabel and Theodosia wobble and flutter and quiver their way through a descant that’s way beyond them.  One should not use descants unless one has a soprano section of the caliber that’s needed for a descant.  And a descant should be sung with perfect intonation; no noticeable vibrato.  There’s nothing worse than a descant sung by a soprano section that has one or two wobbling sopranos ruining the whole thing!

When I was growing up, the above paragraph applies to most of the people I knew.  Especially Southern Baptists because they don’t honour the Twelve Days of Christmas.  They know nothing about The Liturgical Year, yet they would sing that carol about “The Twelve Days of Christmas” — “On the first day of Christmas my true love said to me….” — but none of them had any idea what they were singing about.  The Southern Baptists would be critical of their neighbours who were Roman Catholic who had their holiday decorations on until 6 January.  I remember hearing, “Why does she still have her Christmas decorations on?”  Well, it was because the neighbour was honouring The Twelve Days of Christmas.  The Southern Baptists would sing that carol although not in church, but they had no idea what they were singing about.  Hypocrites.  And that seems to be the case with many people. I don’t know when people think Navidad/Christmas begins.  They seem to think it begins during Advent.  WRONG.  Although with some shopping networks, it begins at the beginning of October.

So for example, el 31 de diciembre/the 31st of December is the Seventh Day of Christmas (of the Twelve Days). Did you know that? So contrary to the thinking of many people, Christmas is not over on New Years’ Eve.  But that’s what the Southern Baptists thought.  It seems that many so-called “christians”/faux-christians and other people never learned what the Twelve Days of Christmas really means. Yes, people proceed to rip down their tree on or before New Year’s Day (which is only the Eight Day of Christmas) and they take down their holiday lights, and they go into hibernation the rest of the Winter and their butts never see a church pew until Pasqua/Easter.  I call these people the phony “Christmas and Easter Christians” because they’re so transparent.  Those two High Holy days are the only time they set foot in church as they try to “buy their way into heaven” by doing the very minimal.  Their Floating Cloud Being is not fooled by their deceptive behaviour.  These are also the same people who never bow to the processional cross(es) or genuflect in Anglican, Roman Catholic or Lutheran liturgies.

In conclusion, the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Christian Liturgical Calendar run from December 25 until January 6 (The Feast of The Epiphany).  Got it?  Oh by the way, the Russian Orthodox Christmas is on 7 January.  Hope this helps. Chau.— el barrio rosa

[Note: Then there are people like myself who use coloured light sets year-round because they’re pretty and I think it’s silly to have them stuck in the closet for 11 months a year when they could be used and enjoyed all year].


What Are the Twelve Days of Christmas?
“The First Day of Christmas is, of course, Christmas Day—the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (It is not December 13 or 14, as so many “12 Days of Christmas” countdowns incorrectly assume.)”

The Holidays:  Cancel the Whole Thing.

2 comments on “Conservatory’s Church Music Department: What are “The Twelve Days of Christmas?”

  1. D8

    Exactly right and today (New Year’s Day) is the 8th day of Christmas.

    I have colored lights up all year too. I think more people are doing that and I think they should for a couple of reasons. 1. they’re pretty to look at and 2. when I read reviews about lights that people have bought in past seasons and put away after the holidays there seems to be this pattern (built-in obsolescent?) that when people get them out of the closet the next year to put them up half of them or all of them don’t work. Something happens to them by being stored for months and not used. Maybe the wiring degrades by being in a hot closet over the summer months? Regardless, I’ve had mine up and on for years without any problems. I bet if I took them down and put them in the closet they’d stop working when I try to put them up again. I’m not going to test that but I’ve read that from so many people in their reviews of light sets.

    1. rosa_barrio Post author

      Hola D8, I’ve read the same thing you have from reviews of LED light sets which is all that I buy. I think there’s something to that. For example, there’s a company that makes a set of LED lights with a 5-minute light show. Up until recently, there was a bar-restaurant in The Castro that had 4 of those light sets connected on their awning and on every night of the year. They’ve had them up for years. Over time, they only had to replace 2 of the sets because they got out of sequence from the other two sets but all the bulbs were still working. I’ve read online reviews of the same light sets and people talk about them not working from one year to the next or there were no problems one year but after they took them down and they sat in the closet for months, something got fucked up about them when they went to put them up again for the holidays. I thought: Why not leave them up? If you don’t want them on all the time, you could leave them up and turn them on for a short time occasionally to let them run then turn them off. The ones on this bar’s awning in The Castro worked far beyond their intended life expectancy indicated on the box they came in. They’d been up for probably 5 years and on every night and sometimes they were on during the day. And they were still working when they took them down recently to renovate the place. Gracias for your comment. Chau.

Fin. The End.