Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n01)
Right in my Own Backyard - 'On the Twelfth Day of Christmas' - by Brandt Carter
posted: Jan. 08, 2010
'On the Twelfth Day of Christmas'
When we moved to the Broad Ripple area years ago, celebrating Twelfth Night after Christmas was a festive occasion. All the local residents brought their leftover Christmas trees (decorations removed) to Broad Ripple Park. The mountain of discarded pines could be seen from 62nd Street as it grew each day immediately after Christmas.
On January 5, young and old alike would bundle up to brave the cold, gathering around the mound to observe Twelfth Night. It began with a leader's greeting and singing songs. Then the trees were set afire. In a matter of seconds, a huge blaze soared toward the dark winter sky. I remember this night vividly because it stood apart from gift giving, food, or family fun. Instead this was a time for folks from neighborhoods around Broad Ripple to come together as a community, concluding the Christmas holidays and rallying spirits collectively before we withdrew to endure the cold, drab nights of the next few months.
While we recycle rather than burn Christmas trees today, memories of many Twelfth Nights at Broad Ripple Park invariably come to mind these days. Yes, I still have our trees dismantled and decorations stored away by January 6, but the Twelve Days of Christmas now seem more pronounced in the song about a partridge in a pear tree.
This time of year reminds me to look behind the significance of Twelfth Night, observed by Christians as the end of Christmas merrymaking. Twelfth Night has traditionally been observed the night of January 5, which is the eve of the Epiphany. Thereafter the focus shifts to the approaching Lenten season in preparation for Easter.
If you lived in Louisiana, Twelfth Night might still be a bigger occasion, for it is the root of Mardi Gras, which begins January 6 and continues through Fat Tuesday until Lent. Tradition has it that the first King Cake is enjoyed January 6. This cake, decorated with purple, green and yellow sugars, holds a bean. The person who gets the bean is supposed to bring the gathering's next King Cake.
Traditions passed along in our rituals do much to add meaning to our lives. So it is that we begin 2010, recalling memories in these fresh, new days.