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An Epiphany


Is today the end of the “Holiday Season”? Is “Happy New Year!” the last cheer to offer before we hunker down to our resolutions and resume our ordinary life patterns? The NRR has its own schedule of holidays, a mash-up of several religious, cultural and political observances from around the world. But we had found no clear ending for the current season, a date when our decorations and mannerisms should change from poinsettia to snowflake. After some research and some thought, I had an epiphany.

Some hold that winter celebrations can continue until Super Bowl Sunday (it’s February 1st this year). Company Christmas Holiday parties are often delayed until sometime in January. For those companies with enough cash left to throw a party, at least. Others, perhaps weary of the retail aspect of holidays, use their New Year’s Day to take down the lights and retire the tree.

Certainly, the change of calendar is a time for many to make resolutions. Sales of cigarets and bon-bons drop, while the gym becomes uncomfortably busy. Whatever virtue in that pattern aside, it strikes me as too contrived and ungrounded. It is a function of our datekeeping system, not tied to astronomical movements or agricultural practices.

There is tradition to guide us. I was surprised to learn that the Twelve Days of Christmas are not a countdown ending on Jesus’s birthday. December 25th is actually the first day of Christmas. Or, it was, until our culture abandoned religious observances a couple few decades ago. There is one more big blowout on the ecclesiastical calendar before the season is officially over.

The truly faithful, or Shakespeare buffs, should know what it is. From 2009 forward, the Negative Railroad will be observing Twelfth Night:

Twelfth Night or Epiphany Eve is a festival in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany, concluding the Twelve Days of Christmas, and is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking"

A time of merrymaking. Perfect! An antidote to the buzzkill culture that has tamped down the joy of Christmas and castrated the celebration of New Year’s Eve. As a lost—or nearly lost—tradition, Twelfth Night has the advantage of stealth. The scowlers and the scolds will have already assumed the parties are over, leaving me free to have the kind of fun that balances the trials of living.

What’s better, in this first year of observance, Twelfth Night happens to coincide with NRR’s regularly-scheduled weekly respite. It falls on a Monday, which has been Bar Night for the past 15 or so years.

My new year is already happier!