January 6 is Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, Old Christmas, or my personal favorite - Woman's Christmas. The time between Christmas Day (December 25) - celebrated by many as the day of Jesus' birth, and Epiphany (January 6) is believed to represent the time that it took the Three Wise Men (or the Three Kings or the Three Magi) to travel to Baby Jesus. Some faiths celebrate January 6 as the day on which Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. In Ireland, January 6 is still celebrated as Woman's Christmas - a day when men take over the housework and women celebrate the close of the Christmas season by either going out together, or staying in and being served by the men. There's a tradition that needs to make its way to the US!
In cultures that celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas and Epiphany, January 6 marks the end of the Christmas Season. Believe it or not, there are some cultures where the Christmas celebration lasts until February 2 - this celebration is called Candlemas.
Epiphany is another gift-giving day, and king cakes are eaten to celebrate the close of the Christmas season. Other cultures' celebrations of Epiphany center around water - involving baptismal rights and house blessings.
While the last day of Christmas is kind of sad, it is also a good time to think about the coming spring. Days are getting longer, and more sunlight means that trees and plants will be coming out of their dormant states soon and blooming again once the weather gets warmer. In many ways today is the end, but also the beginning of a whole new cycle.