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For those celebrating Christmas as either a sacred or secular holiday, merry merry! And the party goes on: the Twelve Days of Christmas begin today—on Christmas Day—and extend for twelve days, through Jan. 5. [Note: Some traditions begin the count on Christmas night and end the Twelve Days on Jan. 6.] Also known as “Christmastide” or “Twelvetide,” the modern traditions are Christian in nature but spring from a number of Pagan and magickal folkways.

CloudsOne of these is the Welsh custom of the Omen Days, of which I was reminded by author Caitlin Matthews on Facebook this morning. The Omen Days spring from Welsh/Scot traditions, which are near and dear to my heart as I’m a member of Family Huntly and Clan Gordon (Bydand!). At one point, the Omen Days were considered so important they affected the way business and legal issues were conducted. For example, during the Twelve Days, courts were said to lack their usual power and cases often sat untried or were released for lack of decision. Work was often reduced or suspended during the Omen Days, and it was a time for ritual and feasting. If one died during the Twelvetide, some believed it to be a dangerous omen for the departed one’s families, while others felt it to be exceptionally lucky, believing the newly dead would go straight to Heaven.

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