What about the other 11 days of Christmas?

If you have a nativity scene featuring the wise men, you may already know it’s not exactly historically accurate. Although the shepherds got to see the newborn Savior, magi may not have arrived for quite some time after Jesus’ birthday. In Western Christian traditions, we commemorate their arrival on Epiphany (January 6). This means the Christmas season does not end, but begins, on Christmas Day, and it lasts until Epiphany Eve–that’s twelve days![1] So what about the other 11 days of Christmas? How are we supposed to celebrate?

Of course, you can think ahead to next Christmas and take advantage of discounted seasonal items. You could go out and spend that gift card you got to your favorite store. But that all seems a little hollow when we think about the significance of the incarnation.

I tried playing Christmas music, not just sentimental favorites like “Let it Snow,” but also some theologically rich carols too. But I’m new to this Twelve Days of Christmas idea. So it still seems a little forced listening to Christmas music in January.

It would have been nice to have left our Christmas tree up until at least Epiphany Eve. But this year we forgot to water our tree for the first day or so, giving it time to sap up, keeping it from drinking in any water whatsoever. We finally took it down the day after Christmas, even though, given its droopy, brittle condition, that was probably at least a week overdue.

I’ve been wondering what sort of traditions my family and I could adopt to keep the Christmas party going all Christmas long. As I attended services at two different Christian fellowships on Sunday and began to read what many Christian friends and ministries have been chatting about online, a common theme emerged.

Just as the magi sought out the Messiah by following the star, so too can we use this season to commit our hearts anew to seeking Jesus this year through scripture, the ever-radiant “lamp unto our feet.”

Jesus, on one occasion, addressed His opponents, saying, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”[2] Simply hearing, reading, knowing and understanding God’s Word will not make us spiritual nor gain for us a place of honor in God’s kingdom. What it can do, as we yield to the Spirit’s wielding of this powerful sword,[3] is connect us to the One Who is eternal. And in that abiding relationship Christ shares His life.[4]

The Word is an effective tool in the hand of God.[5] Through it He reveals Himself to us and through us as He chisels at our hearts until His image is unveiled in us again. “The one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” When we draw near to God in faith the reward we receive is Christ Himself. And those who have the Son have life.[6]

As this Christmas season comes to an end, I hope we will not miss this opportunity to keep the tradition of starting the new year by renewing our resolve to seek Immanuel, submitting to His Word and allowing Him to be born in us again.


[1] The weeks leading up to Christmas, which we popularly call the Christmas season, is traditionally the Advent season, which is generally a time of fasting in preparation for the Lord’s coming culminating in a feast time that starts on Christmas and ends on Epiphany Eve.

[2] John 5:39-40

[3] Hebrews 4:12

[4] John 15:7-10

[5] Isaiah 55:9-11

[6] John 5:25-26; 1 John 5:11-12

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