Provided by WorldNow
Even though the play does not have a Christmas theme, many scholars agree that William Shakespeare looked to the medieval celebrations of Christmas to find a name for the play he called Twelfth Night.
In medieval times, Christmastide was a somber period that extended from Dec. 25 until the eve of the Epiphany, which falls on Dec. 6. The Yule Log was kept burning for 12 days, and if it was allowed to burn out it was considered an omen of evil.
Finally, on Twelfth Night -- Dec. 5 -- the holiday was allowed to show a festive side. As part of the celebration, people wore masks and costumes. Men dressed as women and women dressed as men, according to Christmas World. Cross-dressing is a central theme of Shakespeare's play.
The significance of 12 days reflects the biblical story of the Magi, the kings who followed the star to Bethlehem to presents gifts to the infant Jesus. Their arrival -- after a journey of 12 days -- is celebrated as the Epiphany.