Every year I have the same argument with some knothead who insists I'm wrong because they counted back twelve days from the 25th and so the 13th was the first night of Christmas and it's all over now.
Well maybe it's over for retailers and knotheads, but not for the Church or the pagans just getting geared up for mid-winter celebration at Imbolc (around Groundhog Day for you anti-pagans). This also marks the beginning of Carnival culminating on Marti Gras.
I'm a stickler about this stuff not because I'm especially religious but because I'm a traditionalist ... and this is another excellent excuse to party. And partying is healthy for those who get all depressed and SAD because of short days.
From theological site, The Voice:
Epiphany is the climax of the Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from December 25th until January 5th. In most traditions, the day before Epiphany is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the evening of which is called Twelfth Night. This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King's Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany (a King's Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA). ....
In some households it's considered bad luck to take down your Christmas decorations before this date or to leave them up beyond it. From Wikepedia:
Twelfth Night is when all Christmas Decorations should be removed so as not to bring bad luck upon the home. If decorations are not removed on Twelfth Night, they should stay up all year.
And you thought that was just about being lazy! Coco