updated 08:00 pm EST, Wed December 7, 2011
US excluded from special offer
Starting slightly earlier this year than normal, Apple has released its 12 Days of Christmas companion app for its upcoming promotion in the UK and other parts of Europe, along with Canada. The promotional period, which runs from December 26th to the 6th of January, offers a free "gift" from the iTunes Store every 24 hours -- usually a song, app, movie rental or e-book.
The offer is one of the few not extended to the US, but does include Canada (app not yet available in the Canadian iTunes Store, however). The promotion has its origins in the traditions of Eastern Christianity, which held that the Feast of the Epiphany (traditionally given on January 6th) marks the celebration of Jesus' baptism and is in fact a more significant event than Christmas.
Many countries outside the United States mark at least the first of the twelve nights, often called Boxing Day or St. Stephens Day. The twelfth night is also seen as the traditional day to remove the last vestiges of Christmas decorations and celebratory foods.
There are some regional variations in what is offered during the promotion, but last year the gifts for Canadians included some episodes of The Big Bang Theory, a Christmas music sampler EP, a best-selling book by a Canadian author, some episodes of Mad Men, an iTunes Live EP from Bedouin Soundclash, music videos and songs from Kings of Leon and Johnny Reid, the movie One Week and two apps, Diner Dash and Fishing Kings.
Users who do not own an iOS device in the affected regions are invited to check the iTunes page on Apple's web site on Boxing Day to receive a special gift "for your computer."