The Thirty-Third Day of Christmas

A night drive around these parts reveals that some homes still have their Christmas lights up. This may be for two reasons: a) laziness and b) oooh pretty!

There is a third reason: Christmas isn’t officially over.

Most people appreciate that Christmas doesn’t end on December 25 (Christmas Day) or December 26 (Boxing Day) or even December 27 (Pitch the Tree Day). They might even say that Christmas ends on Epiphany, January 6, which marks the arrival of the Magi at the Nativity.

But that’s not the case.

These guys get all the best tables.

These guys get all the best tables.

An aside: Besides its religious meaning, the word “epiphany” also means “moment of clarity,” that “aha!” moment, stemming from the fact that when Jesus was born, people didn’t realize he was kind of a big deal until he was endorsed by the Magi, who were like the Oprah of their day.

In modern times, nativity scenes tend to include the Magi among the Christmas Day gathering, along with the angels, shepherds and unsanctioned donkeys. But those three kings, they travelled afar. How afar? Afar enough that it took them 12 days to get to Bethlehem. Today, they would have caught the Orient Air red-eye or, worst case, just Skyped and sent some gift cards from Myrrh ’N Stuff. But in biblical times those three kings had to bear their gifts by camel, which was slow, smelly and unpleasant, like a Greyhound bus to Hamilton.

Technically, then, we should be adding kings to our nativity scenes only on January 6. But no one bothers doing that because: a) laziness and b) oooh pretty!

But back to the last day of Christmas: For most Christmas sticklers, the season ends when the Magi arrive. But really Christmas doesn’t officially end until January 27. That’s when the Magi finally leave.

This is Estuphany, the festival of the overstayed guest.

While not mentioned in the Holy Bible, reference to the lingering kings can be found in the Apocrypha Gospel of St. Shecky. “Lolleth they amongst the beasts of the manger and lifteth not a finger to help, even as the Christ child is colicky unto the wee hours and the virgin Mother hath not slept a wink. Lo, though they hath bringeth gold, they hath consumed that twofold in kabobs and mead and pay-per-view. Dost not the place reek of frankincense? Be they not a bad influence on Joseph?”

Any manger dude will tell you.

Any manger dude will tell you.

Later, St. Shecky recounts the following conversation:

“And Mary spake unto the third guest, ‘As kings thou art, dost thou not have places to goeth, people to seeth?’ whereupon he gazeth at her over a bucket of Canaan Fried Mutton and sayeth, ‘Kings? We be not kings but wise men – wise to a sweet deal when we hath seen it.’”

Three weeks after their arrival, the Magi wake up on the 33rd day of Christmas to discover that Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus have packed up in the night and disappeared, sticking the wise men with the manger bill.

Today, the Festival of Estuphany is rarely celebrated in Western culture. Many homes do commemorate the spirit of Estuphany but much closer to Christmas Day, usually around the time one’s brother-in-law has inexplicably managed to use up every single roll of toilet paper in the house.

There have been Estuphany carols written over the years:

  • “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and Never Left”
  • “Do You See What I See? (The Sink Full of Dishes)”
  • “Get Lost, Ye Merry Gentlemen”

But these are mostly (and justifiably) forgotten.

Certain Estuphany traditions, however, do linger. For example, January 27 tends to be the day when we finally polish off the last of the goodies that were given as house gifts and stocking stuffers. We breathe a sigh and “good riddance,” just as one would to a bearded dude who keeps company with camels and hasn’t changed his cassock in weeks. All we are left with is a sense of relief, chocolate stains and that bowl of nuts that never, ever gets eaten, not even by freeloading guests.

Had your filbert of these yet?

Had your filbert of these yet?

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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25 Responses to The Thirty-Third Day of Christmas

  1. Wow. Estuphany. Who knew? And I thought I was smart knowing both definitions of epiphany. Thanks for a good laugh AND an educational experience.
    Karen

  2. Mary had a nice and polite yet direct way of asking people to get lost.
    They don’t teach you about this on Sunday School, not that I ever went, but still.

  3. breezyk says:

    Hahaha, I can’t verify, but I bet my parents are celebrating Estuphany and still have their Christmas lights up. We usually leave our tree up until the 6th, but even that often gets pushed back until the needles are dry enough to create a fire hazard.
    I don’t mind the lingering lights tho… because oooh, pretty!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Good on your parents for hanging on until the 6th. I don’t know why but I’m filled with an irrational peevishness when I see trees at the curb on Boxing Day. (Yeah, like having a tree in the house is rational…)

  4. The Hook says:

    Very enlightening post. Hilarious, even!

  5. peachyteachy says:

    Oh, you made me laugh on a day of frozen laughter. “Any Manger Dude”—I am embarrassed at how hard I laughed at that. The bus, the reek—such funny stuff. Love it.

  6. You are so funny – I can’t believe 3,000 people don’t follow your blog.

  7. Nic says:

    I thought I knew something about Christmas, but it turns out I knew nearly NOTHING about Christmas! Also, love Myrrh ‘N Stuff. Also, don’t love the bowl of nuts, it’s so true – they are absurdly unwanted. Also, my life as a whole is pretty much dictated by the laziness/ooh pretty! rule.

  8. Hilarious! I wrote a Christmas post about how it sucked that they only brought Mary gold and perfume instead of baby wipes and stuff she could actually use, but yours is awesome. I love the mix of actual facts along with the laugh out loud humor. That would suck having those wise men around for so long and the carols were awesome, especially the one with the dishes. Well done!

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  10. pinklightsabre says:

    It’s odd being here, for many reasons. Don’t you kings have somewhere to goeth? I confess I didn’t know about Epiphany really until I went to church (rare) this year, on Epiphany, and it was illuminating. It’s fun to read an old post of yours like this, you were in cracking form here.

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