Today, January 6th, Epiphany, marks the official end of the Christmas season. Not too long ago Catholics, Episcopalians, and other Christians observed not only the twelve days of Christmas but also the eight days of Epiphany. ("The Octave of Epiphany" sounds like the title of Dan Brown's next book.) In the Internet age we can barely concentrate twelve minutes, much less eight or twelve days, on any endeavor.In a more observant time the Feast of Epiphany was celebrated in Church on January 6th, although it was a weekday. The children's Christmas pageant was held on Epiphany, rather than Christmas Eve, because that was when the Magi (three kings) by tradition visited the manger.
Your humble blogger has childhood memories of dressing up as Gaspard, Melchior, or Balthasar and marching down the aisle holding a representation of gold, frankincense, or myrrh, all to the strains of "We Three Kings of Orient Are." It was hard to find boys to volunteer for the role, because each king had to sing his designated verse (e.g., "myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume, breathes a life of gathering gloom"); singing was not viewed as a manly activity. The girls had better voices, but they didn't want to do it either because that meant stepping out of their gender role.
Yes, it was a different time.