Today is Twelfth Night. It is the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which began on the 25th of December.
It is literally the twelfth night after December 25, so it is celebrated on the night of January 5th, the night before the Epiphany, or the coming of the Three Kings, Wise Men or Maggi to visit the new born baby Jesus on January 6.
Traditionally, it was, and still is, on this night that the Christmas tree and decorations are taken down, supposedly to avoid bad luck during the year ahead.
In Victorian England, Twelfth Night was celebrated with parties and festivities. Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol did much to reinforce popular Christmas traditions, as did Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert, who brought many customs from his native Germany.
As early as 1849 (six years after A Christmas Carol was published) it was reported that Queen Victoria and the royal family celebrated Twelfth Night with an evening at the theatre and a famous twelfth cake made especially for the occasion. Yet in the 1870s, Queen Victoria banned Twelfth-Night festivities because they were becoming too rowdy.
More about the Victorian Twelfth Night Cake here:
There’s more information about the origin of Christmastide celebrations and the Epiphany in another blog post I wrote last year.
As you know, My second novel is called Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, because the action revolves on and around that date. There’s a very important event that occurs on that day at Eyre Hall, but I’m afraid I can’t include a full extract because it contains a huge spoiler, but I can offer a few paragraphs for your entertainment.
Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall
The morning after Twelfth Night, Eyre Hall woke up to an alarming blizzard. I had risen and was looking out to the vast whiteness where no shape, human, animal or natural, could be discerned due to the snowy curtain pouring down. I pitied anyone who would have to leave the house in such weather.
I turned my thoughts to Michael, in London. No doubt, the weather as always, was kinder there. I wondered if he had found Helen, and how soon he would return. He had said by Twelfth Night, so I was looking forward to his arrival shortly. The snow might slow down his journey, but it was a small impediment for such a tenacious person. I wondered wistfully as Nell helped me dress, if we could ever be together as any couple who are in love, but we were not any couple. There were so many obstacles in our way, although now, more than ever, I was sure our future was entwined, and we would find a way to overcome all the complications.
I was shaken by cries coming from Mr. Mason’s room. Seconds later Annette rushed in ….
So, tomorrow Christmas is over, the decorations are taken down, the Christmas lights are turned off, and the New Year begins in earnest. Short, chilly days and long cold nights await us.
Plenty of hard work to make our New Years’ resolutions become a reality await us…
I wish you all good luck, good health, happiness, and success in your projects for the year ahead!