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The Twelve Days of Christmas

by Marina Michaels

The twelve days of Christmas are not the twelve days before Christmas, but are instead the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6th), which is when the wise men, traditionally, arrived on the scene.

In some families, it was and still is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of those twelve days, much as gifts are given to children on each of the days of Hannukah.

Speaking of these days, the number of wise men isn't mentioned in the bible, nor is the exact time they arrived, though it wasn't right after Jesus' birth.

For that matter, although Jesus's true birth date is not known, it almost certainly wasn't in December. (More on how the date became December 25 here.) Most likely it was in July, according to some scholars, who have researched when the Romans were doing their various tax collections and so on. The Romans kept pretty good records. The December date was probably an overlay to supersede winter solstice celebrations.

And for that matter, the furor over whether the millenium started in the year 2000 or 2001 was moot, as Jesus was not born in the year 0 or 1, as the millenium numbering would imply. That was a mistake. He was, in fact, born several years earlier, during, of course, Herod's time, which was 37 to 4 BC, and so Jesus had to have been born no later than ca. 6 BC. (Remember, Herod sent out men to kill all infants under two years of age.) Some say he might even have been born as early as 120 to 117 BC, while others say he was born later than Herod's time. The debate continues.

If you want to do more research, there are a lot of sites online that relate to biblical information. It can be an eye-opener, especially when you get into the topic of translations.

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