I presume you scored three French hens from your true love on this third day Christmastide. They'll go with the two turtle doves and the partridge you received yesterday and Sunday. You see, Christmas is not over. Christmas has just begun.
The goofy carol, "Twelve Days of Christmas," with its bizarre inventory of gifts is a reminder that Christmas isn't a holiday, Christmas is a holy season that begins on December 25. Today you woke up to the third day of the season of Holy Christmas.
The Christian population on the planet earth is now around 2.2 billion. Most of those Christians will arrive at church this coming Sunday and celebrate the eighth day of Christmas. When I say "most," I mean close to 2 billion. Those who don't know that Christmas is a season are mostly uninformed Protestants still functioning under the influence of Reformation era anti-Catholic propaganda. There were towns in colonial America where celebrating Christmas was forbidden. In Jamestown you would be charged and levied a fine if you were caught being jolly on December 25. But times have changed.
We celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season on December 25 simply because it's nine months after the date of the Annunciation. Luke reports that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in Adar (the "sixth month") with the news that she was to be the Theotokos, the Mother-of-God. The sixth month of the Hebrew calendar is roughly our month of March.
Mary said "Yes" to God's plan and purpose for her life, her pregnancy began, and the history of the world took a new direction.
Now, non-Christians don't believe the Jesus birth narratives and the theology connected with them. However, there is no arguing with the palpable fact that the history of the world took a new direction because of Jesus.
It's a remarkable story. Jesus was born homeless in a country occupied by a foreign imperial power. Hands that loved him laid him in the hard wood of a manger. Thirty-three years later hands that hated him nailed him to the hard wood of a cross. As a child he lived in exile in Egypt. As an adult he was a carpenter. And for about three years he was an itinerant preacher.
This stark outline of Jesus' life does not explain the remarkable success of the religion that bears his title, the Christ or the Anointed One. Two thousand years after Bethlehem, Christians are everywhere.
For example, the Guinness Book of Records lists Africa's Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro as the largest church in the world. And the continent of Africa has the highest percentage of church-going Christians of any continent. The largest Christian congregations of several denominations are in South Korea.
In fact, it's easy to forget that Christianity is an Asian religion. The Roman province of Judea was located on the western edge of that continent.
It's just as easy to forget that the first Christians were Jews. In fact, apart from Luke, all the New Testament writers were Jewish. As Jews, they were strict monotheists, believing that there was only one God and no other. Yet, they reported Jesus' assertion that he was the one God become human. The babe in the manger of Bethlehem was the God-Creator of the Universe. Unlike the various pagan religions of their time that taught that humans could make themselves worthy to become gods, Christians taught the reverse, God became a human.
This time of year there are all kinds of well-meaning "reasons for the season" explanations that focus on goodwill, peace, giving, etc. They are all true as far as they go.
But the real reason for the season of Christmas is to celebrate the coming of God in the flesh, Emmanual, God-with-us.
The life Jesus lived and what he taught was important. But the most significant thing about him was who he was. His identity as God Incarnate is the the explanation for the energy and power of the religion that bears his name.
OK -- I didn't get (or give) French hens today. And I'm glad I won't have to deal with the other 20 birds the carol suggests distributing during Christmastide, not to mention 10 lords jumping around to the music of 11 bagpipes.
And it's still Merry Christmas.