Leave it to college football to help Christians to reclaim the Season of Christmas. I'll get to that in a moment.
Many people believe that the twelves days of Christmas refer to the twelve days leading up to Christmas day. This is understandable in a culture that associates the month of December with the Christmas Season rather than the Advent Season.
The Advent Season is a time to help us prepare not only for the coming celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but to also anticipate his second coming when he will appear in all of his glory and all of creation will be renewed by a special act of God's grace. This is the ultimate hope of the Christian faith - for the world to be made new by our loving creator God.
Unfortunately, we have used the Advent Season as a pre-Christmas celebration, collapsing the Advent and Christmas Seasons together. It's no wonder that we no longer are interested or have the energy to celebrate Christmas beyond New Year's Day.
The Christmas Season lasts from Christmas Eve to twelve days later, January 6 which is Epiphany, the day we celebrate when the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus to honor him as king. Imagine in our culture today, trying to extend the Christmas celebration an extra twelve days after using up our energy for all of the shopping and parties in the month of December. The church calendar reminds us that the Christmas celebration continues through January 6 and it helps us to not cut short our observance of the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.
In the old days when the college football season ended on New Year's Day, the end of the college football season coincided with the melancholy of what we thought was the end of the Christmas celebration. January 2 was a downer day, indeed. But because of the new BCS system, there are big games on January 3, 4, and the really big game on January 10.
So here's my question - Do you think the post January 1 bowl games can help the church recapture the twelve days of Christmas? Should the media begin to tout the Ohio State/Arkansas game as the Tenth Day of Christmas bowl game?
Forget about political correctness of not focusing on one religious holiday over the other. If Christians would become patient enough to wait to say "Merry Christmas" until the actual Season of Christmas, not only would most people be a little more accepting of this holiday greeting, but it would help the church to reclaim the real Christmas Season.
Thank you college football and the BCS system for reminding the church to celebrate the Christmas Season for a full twelve days. Now, if you could only put together a bowl playoff system during the Twelve Days of Christmas to determine the true champion on January 6, that would be a win-win for both of us.