The celebration of the twelve days of Christmas was not invented by a modern song about a partridge in a pear tree or golden rings. It is actually another way to describe what has historically been called Christmastide.
One of the ways the Christian tradition has helped people celebrate the season is by setting aside time between Christmas Day (December 25) and Epiphany (January 6). Yep. That is a span of twelve days where the birth of Christ is celebrated.
As a child, Christmas was magical. But the day would come and go so quickly that it felt as if it just slipped through my hands. There was so much pent up energy around the experience. Yet once the day had passed, it always felt like my experience didn’t match all the hype.
After four weeks of Advent preparation, shouldn’t Christmas be more than just one day? How cool is it to celebrate Christmas for 12 days instead of just 24 hours? Of course! Christians long ago recognized the need to have more than just one day to celebrate the day God intersected time and space and came to earth as a baby.
Traditions Preserve Meaning
We do celebrate the twelve days of Christmas in our house. Both our boys get a gift for 12 days straight. (That requires some good planning on Mom’s part.) But that also means we get to talk about Christ’s birth and its meaning for twelve days, too. In fact, our six year old doesn’t know any other way to experience Christmas.
Reflecting on this tradition made me think about how fast we pass through meaningful moments in life. We rarely take enough time to celebrate or provide a way to remember the meaning behind our decisions, our values, or our work.
Content Marketing Builds Community
Content marketing is about building trust and value with those we want to connect with more than just when we need to “make a sale.” We want an ongoing relationship that creates community or a tribe. And community is formed around shared meaning—that which is meaningful to us and to others.
The 12 days of Christmas is more than a funny song that talks about a really unusual sequence of gifts. It reminds us that we must see life—even business—as an opportunity to give unusual and unexpected gifts. Those are the ones people remember…and write songs about.
Value Human Relationships, Not Transactions
Content marketing is about connecting with people in meaningful ways that foster value, trust, and permission. We don’t celebrate those often enough or frequently enough which means the temptation to focus on transactions is high. When a one-time sale is our goal, our behavior can be destructive. When a relationship is our goal, our behavior can multiply value over an extended period of time.
Which do you think is more valuable?
The twelve days of Christmas—or Christmastide—was intended to make sure Christians didn’t lose focus on the reason and purpose of the season. It also ensured that time was set aside to celebrate with those who shared similar beliefs about Christ and God’s plan for the redemption of the world.
In your marketing efforts:
- Have you lost focus on the “why” behind the “what” and the “how”?
- Have you been sidetracked by your own hype?
- Have you placed a higher value on transactions than relationships?
The end of the calendar year is always a good time for reflection. Take the next 12 days to reconnect with the reason and purpose behind what you do. Perhaps celebrating the twelve days of Christmas doesn’t easily fit in your context, but what could you do to differently in 2013 to ensure the meaning of your work isn’t lost in your doing for everyone involved?
Ben Stroup is a content activist in a post-paragraph world. He is chief broker of opportunity at Ben Stroup Enterprises. Connect with Ben via email, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe via email to learn how to use content to move people to action.