A Gentleman and a Rogue

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Post - The 12 Days of Christmas



The 12 days of Christmas is one of our favorite carols of the seasons, but have you ever wondered about it's origins? Here's some interesting tidbits:

The song was first published in England in 1780, but there's strong textual evidence that suggests the song is much older and has French roots.

In fact, 3 French versions of the song are known. If you take "A Partridge in a Pear Tree" literally, the only type of partridge that perches in pear trees with any frequency is the red-legged partridge – found in France. This partridge was not successfully introduced into England until 1770.

The song was brought to the U.S. in 1910 by Emily Brown, who was a teacher in Milwaukee, WI. She heard the song in England and needed a song for her Christmas pageant.

On a more religious note, the 12 days of Christmas usually start on Christmas and last until the Feast of Epiphany on the 6th of January in most Christian religions.

My son, Andrew and our Christmas Tree 2010

Modern folklore implies the song was used a "catechism song" for Catholics in England between 1558-1829 when Catholicism was frowned upon. Here's how it was used:

A Partridge in a Pear tree: Jesus
2 turtle does: Old & New Testament
3 French Hens – the theological virtues: faith, hope & love.
4 calling (colly) birds – four gospels
5 gold rings – The Torah, the 1st 5 books of the Old Testament
6 geese a-laying – six days of creation
7 swam a-swimming – 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit
8 maids a-milking – The 8 Beatitudes
9 ladies dancing – 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 lords a-leaping – 10 Commandants
11 pipers piping – 11 faithful Apostles
12 drummers drumming – 12 points of the Apostles' Creed

In 1984, the total of all goods and services was given values - $12,623.10. In 2010, the total value was $23,439.00. And the services are considered hired, not purchased.

There are minor variants on the song. For example: calling birds for colly birds (blackbird)

Golden for gold rings.

Currently, English composer Frederic Austin arranged the standard version. The copyright was registered in 1909 and is still active by it's owners, Novello & Co. Limited.

May you all have a happy and fulfilling 12 days of Christmas.

Smiles
Steph

Info for this blog post was taken from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Days_of_Christmas_(song)

6 comments:

  1. This version, by a well-known Irish comic called Frank Kelly is hilarious. No video, but hopefully you'll appreciate the audio ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQkF7fpw-wI&feature=player_embedded

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  2. Steph, can't resist sharing this poem of mine .. appropos of twelve days ...


    The Twelve Days of Cleaning

    On the first day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me,
    one door without a door key.

    On the second day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the third day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the fourth day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the fifth day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the sixth day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    six broken brooms,
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the seventh day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    seven rusty rakes,
    six broken brooms,
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the eighth day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    eight crumbling candles,
    seven rusty rakes,
    six broken brooms,
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the ninth day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    nine handle-less hammers,
    eight crumbling candles,
    seven rusty rakes,
    six broken brooms,
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the tenth day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    ten scratchy shirts,
    nine handle-less hammers,
    eight crumbling candles,
    seven rusty rakes,
    six broken brooms,
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the eleventh day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    eleven ragged rags,
    ten scratchy shirts,
    nine handle-less hammers,
    eight crumbling candles,
    seven rusty rakes,
    six broken brooms,
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.

    On the twelfth day of cleaning
    my cleaner brought to me
    twelve tattered towels,
    eleven ragged rags,
    ten scratchy shirts,
    nine handle-less hammers,
    eight crumbling candles,
    seven rusty rakes,
    six broken brooms,
    five moldy mops,
    four ratty rugs,
    three decrepit dusters,
    two pitted pots
    and one door without a door key.


    Margaret Fieland

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  3. I enjoyed reading that Steph! Many people now think that the 12 days is before Christmas instead of after. People used to not put up their Christmas tree until Christmas Eve and enjoy the time after the holiday, but now it seems like everything has moved to before Christmas. We still leave our tree up until Jan 6th.

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  4. That was awesome. Loved learning about it. Jillian

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  5. Steph, fascinating post. I didn't realize it was for after Christmas day, either. That makes much more sense.

    Merry Christmas!

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  6. Paul, thanks for sharing the link! You can finds all kinds of good stuff on You Tube!

    Margaret, that was Awesome! And very true! Thanks so much for sharing. I LOVED it!

    Aly, I agree - a lot of people I talked to think it's the 12 days before Christmas. I loved researching this topic.

    Jillian, thanks for popping in. I enjoyed it as well.

    Savanna, I agree - it makes much more sense.

    I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and thanks for visiting the blog!

    Smiles
    Steph

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