The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning Christmas Day with the twelfth day on the 5th January.
This article is my reflection on the Christmas to New Year period and the various festivities and traditions my family and I follow.
I write briefly about the following twelve topics:
Christmas Holidays, Christmas Cards, Christmas Carols, Christmas Shopping, Christmas Presents, Christmas Day family lunch, Boxing Day, 3 days of annual leave, New Year Resolutions, New Years Eve, New Years Day and the First day back at work in the New Year.
1. Christmas Holidays
In Australia the Christmas holidays are nearly 2 months for school students and nearly 3 months for university students. Since I started working I don’t usually take long holidays during this time although we have had family holidays to New Zealand, Japan and Norfolk Island. I do like to take time off between Christmas and New Year as I don’t like to be in the office at that time of year.
2. Christmas Cards
For many years I would write Christmas cards to family (interstate) and friends. Last year I didn’t send any due to sheer laziness but this year I decided to revive this tradition (with inspiration from a good friend). Writing by hand is quite tiring now that I write almost exclusively by typing on the computer or tapping on my phone. I like to include some news and a special message in my cards. Many years ago I made a family Christmas card with photos of our children and news and got them printed on thick card. Some people liked this idea but others (my mother!) thought it too impersonal. This year I was glad to send cards to close friends and family. The next best thing to a paper Christmas card is an “e-card” which I don’t mind as it means that the sender was thinking of me, and usually includes some sort of message.
3. Christmas Presents
We buy Christmas presents for our daughters, niece and nephew but my wife and I don’t exchange presents. I do like to buy special gifts for close friends with the emphasis on something fun and special for them. I get a lot of pleasure in gift-giving.
4. Christmas Shopping
The mad rush of Christmas shopping begins in late November when the department stores and shopping malls string up the decorations. I don’t do a lot of Christmas shopping but make the most of my lunch breaks or after work for my buying. The big Christmas shopping for our family happens in the last week to stock up on food for the holiday break.
5. Christmas Carols
I enjoy traditional Christmas carols! My girls went to an Anglican school and I enjoyed attending the Christmas service and hearing the school choir singing a variety of Christmas carols. This year I had the pleasure of hearing a friend singing in her company’s choir in the foyer of their office building – the joy of live music and people singing for pleasure! At this time of year I play a few CDs of Christmas carols including Aled Jones’s “Christmas Album”.
6. Christmas Day family lunch
Each year our families get together and have a traditional Christmas lunch. We take it in turns to host the lunch however my mother makes a traditional Christmas pudding each year.
7. Boxing Day
The day after Christmas day is usually a day of relaxation but it is also the day of the Boxing day sales and the opening day for many movies. This year we relaxed at home and we went to the movies the next day and shopping on Saturday. A few years ago we went into the city on Boxing day when our niece was visiting from Japan. There were so many people in the city carrying Myer or David Jones plastic bags with their bargain purchases. I usually buy more clothes over the next few days as the bargains are still available at the department stores.
8. 3 days of annual leave
I usually take time off between Christmas and New Year as I like to make the most of the public holidays. I should have taken Monday the 24th December as leave but instead I have 8 days of leave for the price of taking three days of annual leave. It is a hassle going to the office at this time of year as City Rail is doing track-work which makes it difficult to get to the office. Also, many food shops and cafes are closed so North Sydney is extremely quiet. I prefer to use this time of year for recharging and reflection. We also use some of this time for tidying out cupboards and drawers and get rid of obsolete stuff.
9. New Year Resolutions
I don’t specifically make New Years resolutions but I do like to review the past year and make plans and goals for the next twelve months. Today I used a process from the Best Year Yet book to help me plan for the upcoming year. I have ten main goals for 2013 which will be my primary area of focus for results.
10. New Years Eve
New Years Eve in Sydney means fireworks over the harbour. We have watched the fireworks from the Harbour foreshore but in recent years we have settled for watching the broadcast on television.
11. New Years Day
Since we don’t go out on NY Eve, there is no need to sleep in. The Japanese tradition for New Years day is to have a special lunch – “osechi ryori” . I have been in Japan on the 1st January 2002 and we enjoyed such a meal, followed by visiting Dazaifu shrine in Kyushu. We like to have a NY lunch at home. My wife will ring her parents in Japan and wish them “Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!” – 明けましておめでとうございます.
12. First day back at work in the New Year.
The first day of the new year back at the office is a day of transition – going from relaxed to being reminded of the projects left behind before Christmas. This year, the 2nd of January is a Wednesday which means I started the new year with a three-day week.
You can read more on Wikipedia and the Twelve Days of Christmas
And now for some fun – here is the Twelve Days of Christmas song “performed” by animals.