A Brief Review of
Celebrating The 12 Days of Christmas:
A Guide for Churches and Families
Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
The month of December is always a challenging one for me. With the combination of year-end deadlines for work and the constant flurry of activity for the holidays, it always turns out to be one of the craziest and most stressful times of the year – and not exactly the sort of season when I slow down and remember well the significance of Jesus’s birth.
And I know that I am not alone in these feelings. Chris Marchand, author of the new book, Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, is all too familiar with this tension, and it flavors the text of his book. He writes:
In the wake of the hectic busyness of “the most wonderful time of the year” many of us are silently left asking: “Is there another way to do Christmas? And if there is a way, can anyone give us a guide on what it should look like?” This book is an attempt to answer those questions and offer the requested guide. Its inception began years ago with a few incessant, nagging questions that popped into my mind just about every December: “What exactly are the 12 days of Christmas anyway? Do they actually exist and does anybody actually celebrate them? Because I certainly don’t know anybody who does.” In part, these questions arose from yearly listens to the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The song itself is something of an inexplicable anomaly: it contains lyrics no one knows the meaning of and references a ritual that no one practices (the 12 days), and yet it persists as a staple of the season. (xii)
On one hand, I’m skeptical that a single book can change the cultural and economic forces that make December such a fast-paced and stressful month, but on the other hand I appreciate Marchand’s efforts to use the 12 days of Christmas as a means to help us think and live differently in this time of the year. Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas highlights lesser-known celebrations during the season of Christmas and provides useful ideas on how we might celebrate these occasions. I suspect that readers who take Marchand’s work seriously and experiment with a few of the ideas he offers will find a richer and more meaningful experience of the Christmas season.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He has authored a number of books including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks.