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The song “The 12 Days of Christmas” is a mainstay of the holiday season, but the practice of celebrating Christmas as a twelve-day festival fell out of fashion long ago in most cultures. In Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, author Chris Marchand explores the history behind the season and individual feast days from December 25 to January 6, and then offers suggestions for how you can celebrate it with your family, church, or community. Along with this, he provides answers to many of the nagging questions surrounding the holiday, such as the history behind the twelve-days song, why December 25 was chosen as the date, and what to do about its supposedly pagan origins. The challenge before us is to first help people see Christmas as a holiday that begins, rather than ends, on December 25, and then to together figure out how to reinvent Christmas in the present by learning how it was celebrated in the past.
|Title: Celebrating The 12 Days of Christmas: A Guide for Churches and Families
By: Chris Marchand
Illustrated By: Blair E. Clark
Number of Pages: 196
Vendor: Wipf & Stock
|Publication Date: 2019
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 X 0.42 (inches)
Weight: 10 ounces
Stock No: WW655333
Author: Chris Marchand
Located in: Peoria
Submitted: October 28, 2019
Tell us a little about yourself. I am an Anglican pastor and church music leader from Peoria, Illinois. I was also a Classical Christian school headmaster and teacher for eight years. My wife and I have four kids, I love to discuss anything related to music, film, and literature, and I try to play some tennis when I can. I have also started the podcast and blog PostConsumer Reports, which contains interviews and articles surrounding art and faith.
What was your motivation behind this project? I have always been perplexed by the song "The 12 Days of Christmas." To start with, other than it being about giving out a whole lot of presents, I didn't really understand how the song related Christmas. On top of this I never knew anyone who celebrated a "12 days of Christmas," so I didn't have any conception of what the song might be referring to. A few years ago I heard a church leader being interviewed on a podcast and on it he discussed many of the individual days during the season as well as a number of ideas for celebrating it in our churches in families. Listening to the interview made me want to finally go off and research about the season in order to understand what it was all about and how I should be celebrating it..
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? To start with, I hope they get many of the historical questions plaguing them about the season answered—questions that have plagued me for years. But more importantly I hope they will be encouraged to transform what their Christmas season looks like, whether it is within their own family or in their broader community. My goal was to intrigue people by suggesting we rediscover the traditions of the past while also adapting them to a modern context and creating a few new ones of our own.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? I think about Christmas year round now! Along with that, all of my research has caused me to see the deeper meaning of the season and how it should continually point us to Christ. It has also shown me how difficult it is to change culture, as well as coming to the realization that some of the suggestions I make in the book might be a challenge for some people to implement into the holiday season. I know this because I don't do 100% of the things in the book with my own family. Changes in how we celebrate something so central and emotionally attached as our holidays will happen gradually and with lots of discussions with the people in our lives!
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? In many ways the work of C.S. Lewis was a big influence on this book. His lifelong tasks were to both make the Christian faith understandable in the modern world and to help contemporary people understand the pre-modern way of viewing the world. Much of his writing, both fiction and non-fiction were an inspiration to me, as I had to continually re-interpret all the Christmas customs I was unearthing in a way that makes sense to modern sensibilities. Also, like Lewis, I hope I was able to inject some humor into my writing!
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: I believe the Church has the potential to not only influence but also remake culture and I hope my book can contribute to that to some extent. Christmas is a seemingly immovable cultural institution, and yet how it is celebrated has changed quite a lot over the centuries. My hope is that we can learn how to celebrate Christ's birth in such compelling ways that others will begin to pay attention to what we are doing and will eventually want to join us!
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