Many people think Christmas is celebrated only on December the 25th, but for many peoples around the world, in different countries and in different Christian traditions, Christmas lasts for a lot longer than that – and it’s even celebrated at different times.
Traditionally, Christmas celebrations started on Christmas Day and lasted for 12 Days – so they were known as The 12 Days of Christmas, finishing on the evening of 5th January, better known as Twelfth Night.
Some churches, mainly Orthodox churches, use a different calendar for their religious celebrations. Orthodox Churches in Russia, Serbia, Jerusalem, Ukraine, Ethiopia and other countries use the old ‘Julian’ calendar and celebrate Christmas on January 7th.
Most people in the Greek Orthodox Church celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but some still use the Julian calendar and celebrate January 7th – as do some Greek Catholics – while in Armenia, the Apostolic Church celebrates both Christmas and Epiphany on January 6th.
Epiphany or Twelfth Night is celebrated by the western branch of the Christian church as the day the Wise Men visited the Christ child while for the eastern or Orthodox branch is marks the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.
Epiphany/Twelfth Night is also the time when it was traditional to take your Christmas decorations down – although some people leave them up until February 2nd.
That’s Candlemas, which celebrates the infant Jesus being taken to the Temple for the first time and, in Catholic churches, the purification of the Virgin Mary.