Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas. According to a song, it's the day when someones's true love gave to them twelve Lords a leaping, along with many other items including eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.
In honor of the day, I've posted a picture of an illustration (by Roberta Baird) of the bird known as a cuckoo atop this entry. According to a web-page (12 Birds of Christmas), "The lords a-leaping are cuckoos. 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, 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."
And FYI, today is not only The Twelfth Day of Christmas, it is also National Bird Day...
Now have yourself a merry little Twelfth Day of Christmas and remember tonight is Twelfth Night!
It seems the caption on Ms. Baird's illustration may be wrong. A number of resources discussing "The Twelve Days of Christmas," state that on the Twelfth Day of Christmas, someone gave their true love twelve drummers drumming along with other gifts. And it was on the tenth day that they gave their lover lords a leaping (10 in total) along with other gifts.
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