12 days of whatever, whenever

Yes, I know, I know, I know. I am a horrible Christian traditionalist (Eastern Orthodox, actually) who cares about liturgical traditions that are not good for the global economy. I get spooked or even angry when I hear a reggae-musak version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" over the speakers in a hamburger joint and it isn't even Nativity Lent (think Advent) yet.

And then there's THIS. It's brilliant, but also kind of sad.

So I recognize that the following Associated Press business report is inevitable and, in fact, it's an annual event. The question, for me: Why is the Los Angeles Times running this it on Nov. 29?

Here is the oh-so-familiar opening of the report:

In the unlikely event that your Christmas list this year includes every item mentioned in "The 12 Days of Christmas," be prepared to pay nearly $100,000.

Buying the 364 items repeated in all the song's verses -- from 12 drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree -- would cost $96,824, an increase of 10.8% over last year, according to the annual Christmas price index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.

So you might want to try for just one of everything. That would cost $23,439, or 9.2% more than last year.

The 27th annual holiday index has historically mirrored the national consumer price index, but not this year. The Christmas index grew 9.2% from last year, compared with just a 1.1% increase in the much broader consumer index.

Much of this is due to surging gold prices, yada, yada, yada. And the cost of hiring nine ladies dancing -- presumably these are unionized dancers -- is up to $6,294.03. Couldn't you just get nine ladies to volunteer from your trendy local parish's liturgical dance team?

But here is what I want to know from GetReligion readers, especially the newsroom professionals: When are the 12 days of Christmas, the real ones? Does anyone know? Does this basic fact even matter? (We are talking, by the way, about the Western calendar, not observances in, oh, Russia or parts of the Middle East. I'm not asking an Orthodox question, here.)

Yes, I realize that some media outlets are already throwing the term around. I think some cable channel started 12 holiday movies in a row, like "Elf," before Thanksgiving. Ignore that, please.

In an AP story such as this, does the reporter even need to mention the real 12 days? What about media coverage of alleged "12 days" events that do not take place during the real 12-day Christmas season? Do the facts matter at all?

Oh, one more thing. Please feel free to send us, during the next month or so, any really good or really bad stories that you see about the 12-day Christmas season.

What's a bad story? You'll know it when you see it. No "War on Christmas" stories, please, unless some mall decides to arrest people for caroling during the actual Christmas season.

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