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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Days of Christmas

It's the thirteenth day of Christmas, or rather, the first day of 2009 that is not a day of Christmas. Hooray!

The song about the twelve days of Christmas chases me round the country every year. It sticks in my head incessantly and won't go away for around a fortnight. Every year I find myself wondering which day of Christmas we are on. I suppose I am slightly fascinated by the possibility of having a song that develops over the course of almost two weeks.

Also, I am always curious about the song and the gifts themselves. Why did my true love stop at twelve days? Was that the plan from the start, or did it just seem like a good place to finish once everyone is having a nice dance at the end? It annoys me that there is one more Lord than Lady. Surely the Lord is a little annoyed that he doesn't have anyone to leap for. Perhaps the recipient of the gifts is intended to be the missing Lady? In that case, is the giver one of the Lords as well?

At which point did the recipient realise that they were going to receive a partridge in a pear tree so many times? And how was the giver so sure that the partridge would stay in the tree long enough to give it? He must have ordered these things a fair while in advance for them to arrive on time. He was lucky that it all went to plan, because it sounds like a logistical nightmare. Perhaps the song is just badly phrased and my true love only actually gives the pear tree on the first day. It could be that in later verses the previous presents are mentioned simply as a reminder of what has been given already. Who knows?

All of the gifts are a bit silly though. Swans seem fairly normal, but they belong to the Queen so unless my true love is the Queen, they are not my true love's to give. Maids-a-milking are also crazy. To have eight of them for the last five days means forty maids, which must be most of the professional milking maids in the county.

The "proper" meanings of the song you can read here

Anyway, these thoughts keep me occupied through the coldest, darkest days of the year, but that is over now, and I will have to find something else to occupy me

The fact that the coldest night of the year is TONIGHT (it's supposed to get down to minus 10 in some parts of the country later) makes the loss of the song a little harder to bear than normal. So forgive me if I shed a tear as I head to bed

1 comment:

Rachel said...

We were discussing traditions last night, and apparently in Sweden the 6th IS called the Thirteenth Day of Christmas. In Switzerland it's called Three Kings Day, and later on we're going to eat Drei-Koenigskuchen, a bready cake made up of little cake modules. Whoever gets the one with the little plastic King in gets to be King or Queen for the day. If it's me I'll try to see about sorting out some swans for you.