I don’t participate in a lot of Catholic traditions these days, but one of my favorite against-the-US-culture-grain traditions of the Church is that of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Most of us only know of the idea from the song, and assume that it’s talking about the twelve days leading up to Christmas; but in the liturgical calendar Christmas Day is the first day of the feast of Christmas, which lasts for twelve days until Epiphany on January 6th. In many traditional Catholic cultures, the entire two weeks are a holiday, and presents are given throughout.

Not to get all First Times about it, but it seems to me that modern US society has no patience for celebrations which last over several days — it’s not economically efficient — and the logic of spectacle required by mass media requires that you lead up to a blowout and then it’s over; according to television and the marketplace, Christmas is the climax, rather than the fulcrum, of the holiday season. I prefer the Catholic version, if only because it allows the seasonal cheer to last longer, and to be more varied; you can celebrate with different family and friend sets over twelve days rather than being yoked to one place and social setting; and the dark, cold week between Christmas and New Year’s needn’t be as depressing and hibernatory as it often is. The fact that my birthday falls right in the middle of the Twelve Days has, of course, nothing to do with it XD.

All of which is to say that some of my presents, good wishes, etc. may be a little “late” this year, and every year.