One of my big pet peeves (and this shows how petty I can be) is when people think the twelve days of Christmas are days that precede Christmas. Au contraire. They're the days AFTER Christmas, before Epiphany on January 6.
Sometimes, American Capitalism can be very lame. Everything focuses on the time BEFORE Christmas because that's the time when people are buying gifts, hence the misconception that the 12 days are before the holiday.
Another pet peeve (I have a lot of them) is that those radio stations that play 24-7 Christmas carols do so from a ridiculously early time in October until exactly December 25. You turn the station on on December 26 (which in many places is still a holiday--St. Stephen's Day and Boxing Day) and they're back to playing adult easy listening or whatever. It's stupid.
According to Wikipedia, this period was a period of revelry in Medieval Europe--Christmastide--leading up to Twelfth Night, the night before the Epiphany. Twelfth Night was a day where people dressed up to be something they weren't and made mischief, much like Halloween in some ways. This was the basis for Shakespeare's play of the same name, where roles are reversed and there's trickery involved. [ As an aside, saw Shakespeare Theatre Company's production last week, and it is FANTASTIC--I highly recommend if you have time. The photo above is by Carol Rosegg, on the Company's web site.
Featuring Veanne Cox as Olivia (who I seriously worry needs to eat
more...she was so think it was distracting. I kept wanting to offer her
a hamburger) and Ted van Griethuysen as Malvolio (FANTASTIC--absolutely marvelous). Not pictured is Christopher Innvar who was yummy as usual.]
All of this is why I like having my holiday party around Twelfth Night. It extends the Christmas season and makes the period after Christmas less of a letdown. People can relax without worrying too much about running around to multiple parties and preparing for Christmas. I'm starting preparations for my next one now!