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On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

Updated on December 26, 2013

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas - Twelve Drummers Drumming

With the twelfth day we have reached the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas carol and have arrived at the last day of Christmas which is known in England as Twelfth Night on which the partying and feasting continued.

Twelfth Night is the night before Epiphany which is the day the three Wise Men, also known as the Three Kings or Magi, from the East arrived in Bethlehem bringing gifts to the Christ child.

By the Middle Ages the drum, which was probably introduced to Europe from the Middle East by knights returning from the Crusades, had become a common instrument.

Among the drum's other uses was to combine it with the trumpet to get people's attention when making a big announcement such as the arrival of the king or the reading of an important proclamation. In this case the drum was used to announce the serving of the next course of the feast.

Other customs in England as well as France and other West European countries was the making and serving of a special Kings' Cake for this twelfth night celebration (the practice of making and serving a special King's Cake survives today in the U.S. as a part of the Mardi Gras celebrations.

The song and the twelve day celebration have now come to an end. But it is not the end of the season. For the day after Twelfth Night is the Feast of the Epiphany, another religious holiday associated with Christmas. While mainly just a religious observance in the U.S., Epiphany is also a day of both religious and secular celebrating in other countries.

While the solstice having passed and the days slowly beginning to lengthen again, winter still held the land in its grip.

The work of the peasant and noble at this time was light as it was still too early to begin planting while the the cold and short days remained. These provided an incentive to stay inside and party.

While the twelve days of Christmas celebrating may have been over, the party season continued, with Epiphany and beyond through the season of Mardi Gras up until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas - Twelve Drummers Drumming

Twelve Drummers Drumming
Twelve Drummers Drumming

© 2006 Chuck Nugent


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    • mel22 profile image

      mel22 6 years ago from ,

      well i havnt read the other eleven days but its interesting none the less!

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 11 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed it. Now that I have finished that series I will try to find time to write a hub describing my five hour career as a professional shopping mall Santa which is where that picture was taken.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 11 years ago from San Francisco

      This was a fascinating series, Chuck....uhh, I mean Santa. ;-)