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.
Info for this blog post was taken from Wikipedia: