Monday, 28 December 2009

The Fourth Day

Shalom:
I hope that all of my friends are having wonderful, happy holiday.
As traditonal in our home, my mum is still opening her gifts. Until Jan. 7th, she shall, enjoying this wonderful time of the year.
I plan to write letters to family and friends this evening, catching up with folks I haven't heard from in a while.
I was on facebook today, reading several comments about the 'Christmas letdown.'
I guess if you spend the past few months building up to one day, it is to be expected.
Like planning a wedding. So much thought goes into the Wedding Day that little or no thought is given to the marriage that follows.
That's why I am so glad my mother did (does) the 12 days of Christmas. And while it is a holiday I nolonger keep, I do carry that spirit with me.
I have been thinking about the the carol, the 12 days of Christmas of late.During the holiday season, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is heard everywhere from shopping malls to television commercials to church functions. Everywhere you go, you can hear about Two Turtle Doves, Seven Swans-a-Swimming and Eleven Pipers Piping. But what does any of this mean? What does a song about doves, hens and geese have to do with Christmas?
The carol has its roots in 18th-century England, as a memory-and-forfeit game sung by British children. In the game, players had to remember all of the previous verses and add a new verse at the end. Those unable to remember a verse paid a forfeit, in the form of a kiss or a piece of candy to the others
 Many years ago, I was told it was more than a love sick young man recieving gifts from his lady fair, but connects the carol to the era when Catholicism was outlawed in England, from 1558 and 1829. The carol, it is said, was a catechism song for Catholics to learn "the tenets of their faith," as they could not openly practice in Anglican society [source: Snopes.com]. While many still hold the idea of a coded hymn to be true, Snopes points out there's no substantive evidence that this was the case, nor is there any evidence that the verses contain anything uniquely Catholic.
Here are the verses of the song, along with their supposed symbolism:
•A Partridge in a Pear Tree - Jesus Christ


•Two Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testaments


•Three French Hens - The three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity


•Four Collie (black birds) Birds - Four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John


•Five Golden Rings  (five ringed birds, like pleasents)- First five books of the Torah


•Six Geese-a-Laying - Six days of creation before G-d's rest on the seventh day


•Seven Swans-a-Swimming - Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit


•Eight Maids-a-Milking - Eight Beatitudes


•Nine Ladies Dancing - Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit


•Ten Lords-a-Leaping - Ten Commandments


•Eleven Pipers Piping - Eleven faithful disciples


•Twelve Drummers Drumming -Twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed (the 12 tribes of Isreal)
While these verses are what most of us associate with the "Twelve Days of Christmas," the phrase refers to an actual 12-day period. The 12 days of Christmas, in fa­ct, are the days from Dec. 25, celebrated as the birth of Jesus Christ, to the Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6 as the day when the manifestation of Christ's glory was realized.
While sects of Christianity celebrate the 12 days of Christmas differently, certain ones, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, consider the Epiphany to be the most important day of the Christmas season. Some exchange gifts on each of the 12 days instead of only on Christmas day, as my family did.
To me, like spinning the Dreid ( a spinning top with Hebrew letters on it) I do think the carol is an excellent way to teach our children to count, their faith AND a way to prolong the joy of the season.
Example: today is Four Collie Birds.
I'm going to see if I can find Collie Birds.
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