Today is Old Christmas Day. I'm so used to hearing the term that it never ocurred to me exactly why January 6th was called that. I always assumed it was because it was the 12th day of Christmas--Twelfth Night. But there is more to it than that.
It has to do with time and calendars.
The Roman (Julian) calendar was a tad off in its calculations of time and in 1582 Pope Gregory decided to fix that--hence the Gregorian Calendar was adopted by Catholic Europe. Now, many Protestants didn't want the Pope telling them what to do, so they ignored it. By 1751, when Britain passed the Calendar Act, there was actually 11 days difference between them and most of Europe. They would have been celebrating Christmas on what was January 6th. Thus the name, Old Christmas Day.
Regardless of where it came from, it is the day when all the holiday decorations are supposed to come down so the new year can begin. Many folks still hold to that tradition. I know my mother does.
For me it depends on how I'm feeling. Some years, I'll leave the deocrations up until Old Christmas Day. Other years, like this one, I have them all packed away and Christmas 2008 is in the memory books.
Happy Old Christmas Day!