Today is actually, with reference to history, the fifth day in the Twelve Days of Christmas, which begin in the Christian calendar on December 25th and extend through January 5th. This is followed by the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th (commemorating the visit of the magi in the Gospel narratives). My wife broke the tradition and celebrated the nearly two weeks leading up to December 25th as some gift recipients named a “stealthy Christmas angel ninja.”
C.S. Lewis had an interesting thought in an essay, “What Christmas Means to Me” (in God in the Dock, a compilation of essays on ethics):
“Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business.
“I mean of course the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers.”
[Source: Q Ideas]
What happened to the “Christ” in Christmas? Which “Christmas” are we talking about?