The unfortunate thing about Christmas is that it all seems completely over so quickly. In this fast-paced, impatient society, fake trees are in the attic on the 26th, and real trees are on the curb by the 27th. However, this is wrong. We are doing this wrong. In the song "The 12 Days of Christmas," the 12th day is not December 25th; it is January 5th, January 6th being the Feast of the Epiphany. Since the Middle Ages, the Western world has celebrated Christmas through the 5th, creating wreaths, feasting and making wassail. Christmas isn't over, and the decorations aren't traditionally taken down until the twelfth night of Christmas. The 12th night is also, in fact, the night of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
In between Christmas and Epiphany (the arrival of the Wise Men), there are plenty of activities to help stretch out the season. The 26th, needless to say, is Boxing Day. Sadly, it has already past, but I hope everyone played in the boxes left over from the gift unwrapping. (Yes, I realize this is not what it is all about.) Today, the 28th, is the day Spaniards celebrate as the Feast of Innocents, and it is essentially the equivalent to April Fool's Day. So prank away. New Year's Eve is on the 31st, obviously. New Year's Day is a national holiday and, luckily, a Friday this year, thus the 2nd and 3rd fall on Saturday and Sunday. Finally, the 6th is Epiphany. Fill in the space in between with all of the post-Christmas/New Years sales. And here's the schedule: play in boxes, shop, trick people with silly jokes, shop, plan/prepare for New Year's Eve, party, recover from the party, shop, shop, shop, take down Christmas decorations and get pumped for the Wise Men on Epiphany.
I'm always sad to pull down the decorations. I actually hide or leave the house for a few hours so that I don't even see the tear-down process. But if we follow age-old tradition, Christmas is only beginning. Stateside has become so secularized and immersed in its own American customs that many time-tested, ancient Western traditions are lost - the 12 days of Christmas being one of them. The media incorrectly pushes the 12 days of Christmas as beginning on the 14th and ending on the 25th. Instead, fight the media and heed the tradition, keep on celebrating and leave the tree up. Wait for the Wise Men; they aren't here until Epiphany.