American Minute with Bill Federer

"On the 12th Day of Christmas..." 

"On the 12th Day of Christmas..."

In 567 AD, the Council of Tours ended a dispute.

Western Europe celebrated Christmas, December 25, as the holiest day of the season.

Eastern Europe celebrated JANUARY 6, Epiphany, recalling the visit of the Wise Men and Jesus' baptism.

It could not be decided which day was holier, so the Council of Tours in 567 AD made all 12 days from DECEMBER 25 to JANUARY 6 "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

They were called "holy days," which came to be pronounced "holidays."

The Council of Tours in 567 AD also returned the beginning of the year back to the ancient date of March 1st.

January 1st was thought to be a pagan date since it was from Julius Caesar's Roman "Julian Calendar."

Remnants of March being the first month of the year can be seen in the Roman Latin names of months:

"Sept" is Latin for seven;
"Oct" is Latin for eight (ie. octogon=eight sided);
"Nov" is Latin for nine; and
"Dec" is Latin for ten (ie. decimal=divisible by ten).

In 45 BC, Julius Caesar wanted a unified calendar for the entire Roman Empire based on a solar calendar.

Called the Julian Calendar, it replaced many of the lunar calendars which had been used for millennia by ancient peoples.

The old fifth month, Quintilis, was renamed after Julius Caesar, being called "July."

As it only had 30 days, Julius Caesar took a day from the old end of the year, February, and added it to July, giving the month 31 days.

The next emperor, Augustus Caesar, renamed the old sixth month, Sextilis, after himself, calling it "August."

A day from the old end of the year, February, was added to August, giving that month 31 days, and leaving February with only 28 days.

The Julian Calendar added a leap day to February every 4th year.

When Constantine became the Roman Emperor, he stopped the persecution of Christians, and, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, he decided to set a unified date to celebrate Easter throughout the Roman Empire.

Constantine's insistence that the date of Easter be on a Sunday, in the Roman solar calendar, resulted in abandoning the Jewish method of determining the date of Passover, based on the lunar calendar, traditionally beginning the evening of 14th day of Nissan.

The Apostle Paul wrote in First Corinthians 5:7 "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us."

Constantine's act was a defining point in the split between what had been a predominately Jewish Christian Church, as Jesus and all his disciples were Jewish, and the emerging Gentile Christian Church.

The date of Easter was set as the first Sunday after the first paschal full moon falling on or after the Spring Equinox, though in actuality it is calculated through the use of tables.

"Equinox" is a solar calendar term: "equi" = "equal" and "nox" = "night" meaning daytime and night are of equal duration, occurring once in the Spring and once in the Autumn..

Get the DVD How the Birth of Jesus Affected the Calendar

In the year 325 AD, Easter was on March 21.


During the Middle Ages, France had its New Year begin on Easter.

Other countries began their New Year on Christmas, December 25, and still others on Annunciation Day, March 25.


By 1582, it became clear that the Julian Calendar was slightly inaccurate by about 11 minutes per year, resulting in the calculated tables having the date of Easter ten days ahead of the Spring Equinox and further from its origins in the Jewish Passover.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decided to revise the calendar by eliminating ten days.

He set a leap year for every year divisible by 4, except for years divisible by 100, unless that year is divisible by 400.

It sounds complicated, but it is so accurate that the Gregorian Calendar is the most internationally used calendar today.

Pope Gregory's "Gregorian Calendar" also returned THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW YEAR back to Julius Caesar's JANUARY 1ST.

As England was an Anglican Protestant country, it reluctantly postponed adopting the more accurate Gregorian Calendar until 1752.

England's Henry VIII had the Anglican Church become the country's established denomination in 1534.

As in other nations, the government exercised control over religious services, assembly, doctrine, expression and freedom of speech.

During this time, Christian dissenters, nonconformists, separatists, Puritans, Presbyterians, Quakers, Anabaptists, and Catholics fled from England to other European countries or to colonies in America.

Jews had been expelled from England in 1290 by Edward I and not allowed back in till Oliver Cromwell in 1657.

Dissenters who remained in England practiced their faith in secret, sometimes suffering government persecution and even martyrdom.

In 1625, a type of Sunday school catechism song came into use to teach children Christian doctrine, titled "In Those Twelve Days," where a spiritual meaning was assigned to each day.

In those twelve days, and
in those twelve days,
let us be glad,
For God of his power hath all things made.

1. What is that which is but one?
What is that which is but one?
We have but one God alone
In Heaven above sits on his throne. Chorus

2. What are they which are but two?
What are they which are but two?
Two Testaments, as we are told,
The one is New and the other Old. Chorus

3. What are they that are but three?
What are they that are but three?
Three persons in the Trinity,
The Father, Son, and Ghost Holy. Chorus

4. What are they that are but four?
What are they that are but four?
Four Gospels written true,
John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew. Chorus

5. What are they that are but five?
What are they that are but five?
Five senses we have to tell,
God grant us grace to use them well. Chorus

6. What are they that are but six?
What are they that are but six?
Six ages this world shall last,
Five of them are gone and past. Chorus

7. What are they that are but seven?
What are they that are but seven?
Seven days in the week have we,
Six to work and the seventh holy. Chorus

8. What are they that are but eight?
What are they that are but eight?
Eight beatitudes are given,
Use them well and go to Heaven. Chorus

9. What are they that are but nine?
What are they that are but nine?
Nine degrees of Angels high
Which praise God continually. Chorus

10. What are they that are but ten?
What are they that are but ten?
Ten Commandments God hath given,
Keep them right and go to Heaven. Chorus

11. What are they that are but eleven?
What are they that are but eleven?
Eleven thousand virgins did partake
And suffered death for Jesus' sake. Chorus

12. What are they that are but twelve?
What are they that are but twelve?
Twelve Apostles Christ did chuse
To preach the Gospel to the Jews. Chorus

This may have inspired the popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." An explanation of the song's possible meanings are:

My True Love = God Himself
A Partridge = Jesus Christ (A partridge will feign injury to decoy predators from helpless nestlings - "He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities." Isaiah 53:5)
Pear Tree = Cross & Tree of Adam's fall
2 Turtle Doves = Old & New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope & Love
4 Calling Birds = Four Gospels
5 Golden Rings = Pentateuch-First 5 Books of Bible
6 Geese A-Laying = Six Days of Creation
7 Swans a-Swimming = Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
8 Maids A-Milking = Eight Beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-Leaping = Ten Commandments
11 Pipers Piping = Eleven Faithful Apostles
12 Drummers = Twelve Points in Apostles Creed

Origins of Christmas Holiday Traditions

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