I know it is hard to believe, but tonight is the traditional Twelfth Night after Christmas. Unless you say it’s tomorrow night. There’s still that strange counting issue that occurs among different religions and cultures. For some cultures, this was the night to close the Christmas festivities. In other cultures, the Christmas season continues through the end of January, so don’t worry if you are not ready to be done with Christmas. Here are some traditional and not-so-traditional ways you can observe the day today.

  • Tradition was to bake a Twelfth Night cake and include a dried bean and/or dried pea, or a coin, tiny baby doll favor into the cake. Whoever finds the bean (etc) is King or Queen for the day. Make sure to tell your guests to be on the lookout for the bean or baby! You don’t want anyone choking! The recipe is as variable as the cultures around the world, so just have fun with it.
  • Watch a production of Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. Contemporary movies with references to Twelfth Night include Shakespeare In Love (1998) and She’s The Man (2006). Alternatively, try Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame because the Topsy Turvy song has an interesting reference to the “Feast of Fools” occurring on the “6th of Januervy”. Although most historians say that this particular medieval festival had nothing to do with Christmas/Epiphany, the similarities to later Twelfth Night festivals are still remarkable, particularly the idea of the crowning of the King for a day.
  • Announce that it is game night and get out some board games to play, or do hide and seek with human players or just hide a small object (like a dried bean?)
  • If you will be retiring your Christmas decorations this week, read this poem with your family. It was printed in The Winter Solstice by John Matthews, and translated by R.L. Gales.

Noel is leaving us,

Sad to say,

But he will come again.

Adieu, Noel.

His wife and his children

Weep as they go;

On a grey horse

They ride through the snow.

The Kings ride away

In the snow and the rain;

But after 12 months,

We shall see them again.

(Image credit: amarosy)

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