On 12-12-12, I thought a post about the significance of the number 12 would be nothing but appropriate, so here you go:
The Role of the Moon
A lunar month, from new moon to new moon, averages 29 ½ days. Twelve lunar months, of a lunar, is about 354 days – short of the 365 ¼ days in the solar year. As a result, additional days – roughly twelve – are needed to keep lunar timekeeping in step with the seasons. For our forebears, these twelve “extra” days were a mystical season out of ordinary time, suspended in the twelve-day gap between cosmic cycles of the moon and sun. These “extra” days are one in the same as The Twelve Days of Christmas.
The ancient Egyptians were one of the first people to develop a twelve-month calendar that was based only on the sun instead of the moon. They also divided the day and the night in to twelve hours each.
Mesopotamians and Ancient Persians
The Mesopotamians held an annual fire festival for twelve days surrounding the winter solstice (the twelve shortest days of the year) to cheer on their sun god as he battled to conquer the monsters of darkness and chaos. The ancient Persians held a similar solstice celebration with bonfires burning all night to help their god of light and day defeat the evil god of darkness and night.
Ancient Slavic Rituals
In the lands of the ancient Slavic tribes, both sun gods and sun goddesses were revered during their winter solstice festivals, which lasted ten to twelve days and were a time when Slavs honored their departed ancestors with fires to keep them warm and feasts to keep them fed, hoping to elicit their assistance in defeating the dark forces that were overpowering the old sun.