Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- A Christian festival marking the coming of Epiphany and concluding the Twelve Days of Christmas, traditionally falling on the evening of January 5 (i.e., on the eve of Twelfth Day, January 6), but also sometimes defined as falling on the evening of January 6 (i.e., on the evening of Twelfth Day itself).
1840, Leigh Hunt, “XLVIII.—Twelfth Night. A Street Portrait. Shakespeare's Play, Recollections of a Twelfth Night.”, in The Seer; or, Common-places Refreshed. By Leigh Hunt. In Two Parts, volume I, London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street, OCLC 82368652, pages 31–32:
- Christmas goes out in fine style,—with Twelfth Night. It is a finish worthy of the time. Christmas Day was the morning of the season; New Year's Day the middle of it, or noon; Twelfth Night is the night, brilliant with innumerable planets of Twelfth-cakes. […] May a pleasant Twelfth Night have we passed in our time; and such future Twelfth Nights as may remain to us shall be pleasant, God and good-will permitting: for even if care should be round about them, we have no notion of missing these mountain-tops of rest and brightness, on which people may refresh themselves during the stormiest parts of life's voyage.
1854 January 1, Leigh Hunt, “Twelfth Night”, in The Musical Times, and Singing Class Circular, volume V, number 116, London: London Sacred Music Warehouse, J[oseph] Alfred Novello, music seller (by appointment) to Her Majesty, 69, Dean Street, Soho, and 24, Poultry. Also in New York, at 389, Broadway, OCLC 7546319, pages 314–315:
- Twelfth-Night, so called from its being the conclusion of the twelve days of Christmas, is one of the Christian versions of those natural winter holidays, which have prevailed from times the most ancient, and which are the instinctive result of the necessity which is felt for a double portion of joy and sociality at so inclement a time. […] [T]he imagination which books and Twelfth-Nights have helped to cultivate, is a great paymaster. We sit here, by our fire-side, and think of all the nights of this description which we have enjoyed; and very young and robust are we, while so thinking.
1872, Barry Gray, Cakes and Ale at Woodbine; from Twelfth Night to New Year's Day, New York, N.Y.; Cambridge, Mass.: Hurd and Houghton; The Riverside Press, OCLC 19924440, page 8:
- We even discover in the Saturnalia of the Romans, revels which are almost identical with those of Twelfth Night. It is to be regretted, my dear, that we should be so neglectful of the celebration of this day. As a holiday, it is scarcely remembered among us [in the United States], though in England it is still carefully observed, and the pastry-cooks' shops on this night are crowded with cakes, ornamented with many quaint and dainty devices. The Twelfth Night cake is an institution, which, even in this country, should not be allowed to crumble to pieces.
2010, John J. Dunphy, From Christmas to Twelfth Night in Southern Illinois, Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, ISBN 978-1-59629-913-9, pages 128 and 130:
- Alton has two Twelfth Night festivals, one in the Christian Hill district's Riverview Park and the other in the Middletown area's Haskell Park. The Christmas trees of neighborhood residents are piled high and then ignited – under the watchful eye of the Alton Fire Department, of course. Why burn Christmas trees on Twelfth Night? The most popular explanation is that the blaze of burning evergreens symbolizes the star that guided the wise men to Jesus. […] The tradition continued for a few more Twelfth Nights but, without its founder's participation, gradually lost popularity and was discontinued. It was reestablished in 1980 and enjoys an even greater level of popularity […]