Christmas is now two days behind us, and life is beginning the process of getting back normal. But, as I read through a devotional book geared specifically toward the Christmas season, I am reminded that it has not always been so. This particular devotional begins with the first day of Advent (which, by the way, is not the December 1 of many advent calendars but is rather four Sundays before Christmas), but does not end with Christmas Day. Instead, it acknowledges Christmas Day as the first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5) and ends with Epiphany on January 6.
It’s hard to go through the Christmas season in our culture without hearing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in some form. But, the observation of the Twelve Days of Christmas has all but disappeared in our culture, leaving behind nothing other than a goofy song that we just can’t seem to make it through Christmas without playing or hearing at least once.
Tradition has a strong impact on our lives, but so often – like with “The Twelve Days of Christmas” – we have no clue why we cling to a tradition. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are clinging! We have just always done it that way, and questioning our actions never seems to even cross our minds.
Traditions are not bad. They serve as reminders and challengers, if, that is, we move through them consciously. There are so many things we do traditionally, both as Americans and as Christians, without ever considering the root reason for observing said traditions.
It might serve us well to stop now and then and contemplate the traditions we keep, both of our daily lives and of our celebrations. Why do we do them? What significance do they hold? What is their foundation? Are they well-grounded? Why do we maintain them? What can they teach us and our children? Are they worth maintaining? If so, why, and how can we be more conscious and meaningful in keeping them?
May we grow increasingly mindful of the traditions we keep. May they be genuine rather than simply the empty repetition of a silly song. And may they serve the high purpose of making us more committed followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.