Most people begin celebrating Christmas right after, or around the same time as, Thanksgiving. The tree goes up, the houses are decorated, lights, Santas, reindeer decorate houses and yards, and generic Christmas songs blare in the stores.
What a lot of people don't realise is that Christmas doesn't begin until... Christmas. The days before it are all days of preparation, the season of Advent. Christmas, and the season of Christmas, begins ON Christmas.
In my family, we celebrate Advent. We prepare for the coming of Christ, and we listen to the traditional Christmas songs, like O Holy Night, Silent Night, Adeste Fidelis, The Wexford Carol, What Child is This?, and others of a similar nature. It's about Christ. It's not about what presents we're going to receive, or what sort of deserts and cookies we're going to make for Christmas.
That doesn't mean we DON'T look forward to all that. We are human, and God wants us to enjoy life. But the real focus is on our little baby God, born of a virgin and laid in a manger. Our twelve days of Christmas doesn't start on thirteenth of December and end on Christmas. Our twelve days start on Christmas, and end on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men brought their gifts and humbly offered them to our God.
In my family, it is traditional to save one present we receive on Christmas day, and leave it under the tree until the Epiphany, when we celebrate "Little Christmas." Then, the Wise Men come and bring one gift, and we celebrate another Christmas, on the twelfth day of Christmas.
How do you celebrate Christmas? Is it back to front, like ours, in the traditional Christmas way?