Last Monday, January 5th, was Twelfth Night, and how only a week has passed since then seems surreal to me because it seems much longer! (But that's another mono-related story for another time).
Twelfth Night in Christian tradition refers to the day before Epiphany (which is also Three Kings Day and Little Christmas). Twelfth Night is the day before when the story of the Nativity tells of three wise men visiting baby Jesus. Twelfth Night is also the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which begins on Christmas Day. (Some say it begins the day after Christmas, making the twelve days end on Epiphany instead).
On Twelfth Night, I burned the holly branch from our Winter Solstice holly forest walk, which I didn't bring into our home until after Christmas Eve. According to myths and legends, it is bad luck to bring holly into your home before Christmas Eve. (It stayed on our front porch until I brought it in Christmas night).
Why did I burn the holly branch, you ask? Also according to myths and legends, during the time it is in your home, the holly absorbs all of the bad luck and negativity in the home, and on Twelfth Night, you remove the holly from your home and burn it, riding your home of the negativity and bad luck. (Or get rid of it in the trash and remove it from your property, disposing of it, legally, of course!)
As silly as this may sound, the night before I burned the holly, I stood in front of it at the mantle and thanked it for being in our home and for taking away the negativity and bad luck, especially with respect to our most recent (and still current) challenging times, so that we can have a more positive and much less negative year this year.
I left post-its and reminders all over our home, my journal and the calendars so I wouldn't forget to burn the holly on Twelfth Night! (My usual rheumatoid disease brain fog has been made even worse by the mono). That morning, after dumping out two days worth of rain from the chiminea, I placed the holly in the bottom of it, adding several matches to help things along, because, of course, the wind gusts were over 20mph with the incoming cold front!
Most of it burned right off the bat, but a small section was only scorched. I didn't give up until there was nothing but some ashes and debris left. I poured a couple of cups of water into the chiminea (you don't want to chance embers with winds like that), and then I poured it all into the raised garden bed around the dogwood tree, which has also been my 'God box' or 'Give It Up To God box.' I hadn't known what I would do with it until that moment, and that felt like the right thing to do.
It's also where I poured the remains of my Give It Up To God jar slips of paper, after I shredded them, then burned them in the chiminea like the holly.
I loved the physical aspect of taking control of the negativity in our lives and literally getting rid of it! Personal traditions and rituals are a great comfort to me, and I will continue with this new Twelfth Night tradition again next year.
I have a hard time with the post Christmas season. Once Christmas is over, my favorite time of year (late September through Christmas) is also over, and it makes me (very) sad. I'm not a big fan of New Years, and that sadness usually continues into January. Twelfth Night will now be something for me to look forward to, and will help me transition into the new year in a positive frame of mind.
Of course, taking down the Christmas tree on Epiphany (the day after Twelfth Night) always has me on the verge of tears, but, this year that ho-hum-ness didn't linger throughout the rest of the week. And that's a first!
What do you do to transition into a new year?