updated 11:30 pm EST, Mon December 9, 2013
Traditional freebies from App Store vary by region
Apple has again launched its "12 Days of Gifts" app to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, but this year it is including the US for the first time. The app, which celebrates the period between Christmas and the traditional date of the baptism of Christ, will make available to iOS users a free download (an app, movie rental, e-book or song) each day beginning December 26 and running to the 6th of January. It was previously called "12 Days of Christmas," but has seen a name change this year.
The change likely comes due to the wide variety of "holidays" celebrated by Christian and other faiths during the month of December. While Hanukkah came in November this year, there are some 29 other major and minor holidays -- most of which belong to various denominations of the Christian faith -- that members of different sects and religions observe, thus making the generic greeting "Happy Holidays" more accurate than some would believe.
The 12 Days of Christmas has its roots in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and is an even more significant event than Christmas Day for Eastern Orthodox followers. The 12th night is also seen as the traditional day to remove the last of the celebratory foods and holiday decorations.
The app has been available in a number of regions outside the US, including Canada, Mexico, the UK and much of Europe in previous years. The US in the main doesn't observe most of the "12 days" following the actual holiday of Christmas, with St. Stephen's Day (also known as Boxing Day in the UK and most Commonwealth nations) for example being largely ignored -- however the company saw fit to include the US this year.
During the promotion, "gifts" are available for download for 24 hours only. Last year, the app offered a total of 13 gifts, with a holiday music video by Rod Stewart ("Let it Snow") being offered ahead of the main celebration. The gifts offered vary by region, likely due to rights issues.