Why the festive season isn’t quite over yet… - Naturally Sheepskins

Why the festive season isn’t quite over yet…

Why the festive season isn’t quite over yet…

Promised yourself a ‘no sugar’ January but you’ve already eaten a full pack of biscuits this week? Do not panic if you have already fallen off the wagon of sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions. Research has shown that only 9% of people who made a New Year’s Resolution actually stick it out for the full year. One in four people who resolved to make a change on New Year’s Day actually quit within the first week of January – so trust us, you are not alone. In fact, research has shown that 1st January is actually the worst time of year to set yourself a new challenge. Moving your start date to 1st April results in a lot more success because this represents the start of spring when your motivation is likely to be much higher. Let’s face it – January is cold and dark and any ‘next holiday’ seems so far away. The next Christmas break feels like a decade away. In the UK, we can be a little obsessed with goal setting at the start of the year. We should take a leaf out of the books of several other countries around the world – some of which don’t actually stop celebrating with festive activities until mid-January.

This weekend, 6th-8th January, we will see lots of Epiphany celebrations around the world. But what exactly is Epiphany and what is its history? The word ‘Epiphany’ comes from the Greek noun ‘Epiphaneia’ which means appearance. It is one of the oldest Christian holidays and marks the official end of the Christmas season. It is when Christians celebrate the day that the Three Wise Men visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem. It is also a day to remember Jesus’ baptism and when God revealed how important baby Jesus was to be. Basically, Jesus was revealed and ‘appeared’ as the son of God. Church services occur and families worship at home with big feasts.

In Spain, the beginning of January is actually more of event that Christmas Day itself. Santa or ‘Papa Noel’ as the Spanish call him does feature but Spanish children actually write their wish lists to the Three Wise Men instead of St. Nick. It makes sense to be fair – Los Reyes Magos, The Magic Kings as they call them in their language brought gifts to baby Jesus (gold, frankincense and myrrh) so surely they would be the present-givers in general at this time of year? Spanish children leave their shoes near their windows on the eve of Epiphany ready to receive their presents in them. Yes, that’s right, they get most their presents at Epiphany and not at Christmas. Parades are held in cities and towns across the weekend too. Giant oval-shaped cakes, decorated with dried and candied fruits are eaten. It really is quite the event!

Similarly, Children in Peru write letters to and receive gifts from the Three Kings rather than Father Christmas. Children even leave grass and water outside their homes in readiness for the Kings’ camels who may need refreshments on route!

Most major cities in Poland also hold massive parades at this time of year where people dress up as kings. Others, sat on giant floats, throw sweets out into crowds of people. There is also a national holiday in Poland to ensure that everyone can celebrate Epiphany.

Epiphany is called Timkat in Ethiopia and is celebrated on 19th January. On this day, Ethiopians also carry out parades in order to worship and rejoice in the time of year.

Many Italians believe that an immortal, old woman called La Befana travels all over the country, leaving presents for children the night before Epiphany. Legend has it, the Wise Men stopped at her house on their way to meet Jesus. They asked her if she wanted to join them on their quest but she refused. However, she then saw a great light and realised that something miraculous must have happened. Quickly, she gathered some gifts she had in her house (the ultimate re-gift!) and hurried off to try to find Jesus. Sadly, she never found him so she now travels the globe giving gifts to children of the world instead.

Epiphany is considered by many to be ‘older’ than Christmas and has a large array of traditions and meanings behind it. One thing is for sure, the first few weeks of January seem to be very important for many cultures around the world. So give yourself a break this weekend – pretty much the rest of the world is rejoicing. We have ‘Blue Monday’ around the corner on Monday 16th January – so let’s get over that and then think about our New Year’s Resolutions! In fact, research shows that if you’re going to set a New Year’s Resolution in January, the best date in January to do this is on or around 21st. So, if you are thinking of starting a diet or beginning a crazy exercise routine, don’t even think about it until at least the fourth week of Jan! After that, you’ve so got this!


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