Thursday, January 5, 2017

Today, 1-5-2017, is The 12th Day of Christmas! (It's also time to go a-wassailing!)




Today's the twelfth day of Christmas! And, if you are familiar with the song known as The Twelve Days Of Christmas, dear reader, then you probably will recall that on the twelfth day of Christmas, someone's true love gave to them the following gifts: twelve lords a leaping, eleven ladies dancing, ten pipers piping, nine drummer's drumming, eight maids-a-milkingseven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four birds a calling (or a colling or a coaling), as well as the gifts of three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

As I mentioned in a recent posting here on Blogger, John R. Henderson, has studied the meaning behind the lyrics to the twelve days song, and has posted his findings on a web-page which he has titled the 12 Birds of Christmas. Here's what Henderson points out the giving of twelve lords a leaping on this twelfth day of Christmas:

"The lords a-leaping are cuckoos. And the cuckoo hen notoriously lays her eggs in another bird's nest. Because of this the cuckoo became a symbol for immorality and disorder. Not just this day, but the whole season of twelve days was a time of misrule and sexual license. The world was turned upside down. During these twelve days, right is wrong, the strong are weak, the first is last, and the lowliest laborers might become the highest lords. The twelve lords a-leaping bring the song to an end, since twelve is the number of completion. As we return to normal life again, we remember that spring will be coming, life will be renewed, order will form out of disorder, and the cycle will continue."

As of this blog posting, I don't recall ever seeing a bird type known as a cuckoo! Be that as it may, Mr. Henderson's ideas have truly given me something to keep in mind if I ever happen to see this bird type. Therefore, for purposes of this posting, the gift of twelve lords a leaping on this twelfth day of Christmas, will have to be represented by the my leaping deer ornament seen in the photos atop this blog posting, for she certainly looks as if she might represent misrule as well as sexual license given her promiscuous attire.

I got the ornament at More & More Antiques, an (an exquisite shop located on Manhattan's UWS), that is now selling my fauna-flora-insect-themed postcards. Steve Mohr, the sole proprietor of this shop is enthusiastic about my collection and at his suggestion, I may offer my cards in boxed-sets in the coming year! I've already created promo cards that feature thumb-nails of each of my postcards! They can be seen in the following pictures.




Steve is currently carrying each type of my postcards, and each type of them have also been given to the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum (at their request) on a consignment basis. Additionally, the gift shop at The Raptor Trust (a bird rehab facility in New Jersey), is currently carrying my fauna-themed postcards.

Btw, all of these postcards can also be viewed within a prior post here on Blogger; as well as within a store-front page on my web-site, patriciayoungquist.com. Every image within my postcard collection is from the iBook and ePub version of Cam's book, Words In Our Beak, Volume One.



All of these postcards, as well as the book, Words In Our Beak, Volume One, make great gifts to offer to friends and family on this twelfth day of Christmas, which in some traditions is celebrated with a big party at night (The Twelfth Night)!

According to Christmas Customs and Traditions: "Twelfth Night was a big time of celebration with people holding large parties. During these parties, often the roles in society were reversed with the servants being served by the rich people. This dated back to medieval and Tudor times when Twelfth Night marked the end of 'winter' which had started on 31st October with All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

"At the start of Twelfth Night the Twelfth Night cake was eaten. This was a rich cake made with eggs and butter, fruit, nuts and spices. The modern Italian Panettone is the cake we currently have that's most like the old Twelfth Night cake.

"A dried pea or bean was cooked in the cake. Whoever found it was the Lord (or Lady) of Misrule for night. The Lord of Misrule led the celebrations and was dressed like a King (or Queen). This tradition goes back to the Roman celebrations of Saturnalia. In later times, from about the Georgian period onwards, to make the Twelfth Night 'gentile', two tokens were put in the cake (one for a man and one for a women) and whoever found them became the the 'King' and 'Queen' of the Twelfth Night party.

"In English Cathedrals during the middle ages there was the custom of the 'Boy Bishop' where a boy from the Cathedral or monastery school was elected as a Bishop on 6th December (St Nicholas Day) and had the authority of a Bishop (except to perform Mass) until 28th December. King Henry VIII banned the practise in 1542 although it came back briefly under Mary I in 1552 but Elizabeth I finally stopped it during her reign.

"During Twelfth Night it was traditional for different types of pipes to be played, especially bagpipes. Lots of games were played including ones with eggs. These included tossing an egg between two people moving further apart during each throw - drop it and you lose and passing an egg around on spoons. Another popular game was 'snapdragon' where you picked raisins or other dried fruit out of a tray of flaming brandy!

The first monday after Christmas feast has finished was known as ‘Plough Monday’ as this was when farming work would all begin again!

In many parts of the UK, people also went Wassailing on Twelfth Night."

Christmas Customs and Traditions explains that "Wassailing is a very ancient custom that is rarely done today. The word 'wassail' comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase 'waes hael', which means 'good health'. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter. Jesus College, in Oxford University, has a Wassail bowl, that is covered with silver. It can hold 10 gallons of drink! Wassailing was traditionally done on New Year's Eve and Twelfth Night, but some rich people drank Wassail on all the 12 days of Christmas! The Wassail drink mixture was sometimes called 'Lamb's Wool', because of the pulp of the roasted apples looked all frothy and a bit like Lambs Wool!" 

And they offer a recipe for wassail which can be found by clicking here. Christmas Customs and Traditions also states "one legend about how Wassailing was created, says that a beautiful Saxon maiden named Rowena presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine while toasting him with the words 'waes hael'. Over the centuries, a great deal of ceremony developed around the custom of drinking wassail. The bowl was carried into a room with a great fanfare, a traditional carol about the drink was sung, and finally, the steaming hot beverage was served."

Supposedly, "from this it developed into a another way of saying Merry Christmas to each other! (and) one of the most popular Wassailing Carols went like this:


"Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wassailing,
So fair to be seen:

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you,
A happy New Year,
And God send you, A happy new year."

So, dear reader, as I conclude my Twelve Days of Christmas series, let me do so by repeating the popular Wassailing Carol:

"Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wassailing,
So fair to be seen:

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you,
A happy New Year,
And God send you, A happy new year."




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