Tomorrow is Epiphany in the Christian calendar -- the twelfth day after Christmas and the day when the Wise Men visited the infant Jesus and recognized his divinity. In many cultures, holiday celebrations continue through the twelve days of Christmas, gift-giving continues [remember the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas?], decorations remain in place, and good feelings prevail. Last week I wrote that I was not yet ready to start the New Year, and perhaps this is why. But after tomorrow, I'll have no excuse to cling to my holiday laziness.
Epiphany also marks the beginning of Carnival season, which extends from Epiphany to the beginning of Lent. Carnival traditions vary widely from area to area, and are most often identified with the Catholic church, but the origins go back very far into history. Celebrations today include parades, masquerades, and over-indulgence in food and drink -- stocking up, as it were, before the deprivations of Lent. [carne vale is a bastardized Latin phrase for "Farewell to meat."]
In the Middle Ages, there was frequently a period of "mis-rule" or a time when the natural order was overturned, children took over for bishops, and fools replaced wise rulers. (The temptation here to point to Congress is almost overwhelming, but I'm fighting it.) It may sound like the holiday parties continue, but carnival fun has an entirely different flavor. It's a busy time, full of debts coming due, schedules to be met, appointments to be kept, and social obligations with double meanings -- quite unlike the warm coziness of Christmas with family and friends.
In any event, I'm setting my own calendar marker for tomorrow. We'll eat the last of the left-overs (turkey soup, the stray cookie, the last of the cheese and crackers), put away the stray ends of the decorations, like the lighted trees from the front porch, gather up the Christmas cards to be noted for next year's list, and wrap up our holiday pecan sales. On Monday, it's back to work time
And what will I be working on? Well, I haven't been entirely idle the last couple of weeks. I have a new book in the early stages of creation. A least it's swirling around in the recesses of my writing brain, waiting for me to settle in and start putting quill to parchment. More of that on Monday. For this weekend, I'm going to take full advantage of the last quiet moments of the holidays.