Why do we celebrate Twelfth Night?
Twelfth Night - January 5 - the day before Epiphany. Since long celebrated in Western Christianity the Eastern stjärnskådarnas arrival of Jesus on this day. Twelfth Night, however, ends up a bit to make way for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
If we start with the thirteen days that falls on (as the name suggests) on the thirteenth day of Christmas. Christmas day is counted as the first day of Christmas and Boxing Day, we celebrate still. The third day and fourth day of Christmas were removed in the calendar reform under Gustav III 1772nd Epiphany is thus always January 6.
The day before a holiday is called evening thus Twelfth Night, January 5.
Far back in ancient times the Church celebrated Jesus' birthday on January 6. The day is called Epiphany, which is Greek for revelation party. But the 300's, it was decided that Jesus was born on December 25. At Epiphany January 6 is celebrated arrival of the Magi to Bethlehem and their adoration of the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They represent, according to legend, Europe, Asia and Africa, which were the three continents were known in the Middle Ages. They are a symbol of the worldwide acclaimed child.
During the 1000's, grew church games with star singers and they soon fell in more secular contexts. In Sweden we have had a lot of pranks during Christmas with young people who dress up and walk around the farm and sing, clown, up the small tableaux, and begging together food and drink at Christmas Youth guilds and playhouses.
On Twelfth Night dressed man consistently up as the three wise men and carried around a big shining star. Judas was more or less obvious and sometimes it was Joseph with his staff and sometimes with Mary with child, angels, Herod and his soldiers. Star singers' visit was more or less atmospheric and burlesque and has varied in different areas and at different times.
During Christmas night (the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) had the dead returned from the cemetery to their homes, but now it was considered to be high time for them to go back to their graves. Therefore was the name of thirteen days in Småland, in the past such as "farängladagen". "The angels go back"....)
This photo above is from: Kulturlagret/ Vänersborgs museum.
Karl Johansson, Hjärtum 1888-05-14,
Johan Jonsson, Hjärtum 1880-11-01,
Abraham Jonsson, Hjärtum 1875-01-13,
They are posing in their fine Sunday clothes on Epiphany 1909 in front of the timber to the new barn on Arnstorp as "laftats up" before it is installed in its place.