Tuesday, December 31, 2013

7 swans a swimming . . .

continuing our look at the 12 days of christmas, we are up to day 7 - 7 swans a swimming.

throughout history the swan has been a symbol of royalty and has been used in royal symbols and decorations.  swan meat is also supposed to be quite tasty.  in ancient times swan was part of the traditional christmas menu and other royal feasts of the king. after the 19th century the swan was replaced by the turkey for traditional holiday meant.

swans are also found in myths and folklores dealing with love.  because the swan could both fly and swim the ancient people were fascinated with them.  many believed that had ties to both the natural and supernatural worlds.

the 7 swans represent the 7 gifts of the holy spirit, or the 7 sacraments in christianity.

                      7 gifts of the holy spirit:
  • wisdom
  • understanding
  • counsel
  • courage
  • knowledge
  • piety
  • fear of the Lord
                     7 sacraments:
  • baptism
  • confirmation
  • communion (eucharist)
  • confession
  • anointing of the sick
  • holy orders (apostolic ministry)
  • marriage

Monday, December 30, 2013

6 geese a laying . . . yes, for real!

ok, so we have been thrown off our game a bit the past couple of days, but today the 6 geese a laying are in fact geese!

a goose is one of the oldest domesticated birds. it is also surrounded by some folklore, which is probably the reason it is used here.

because of their migration patterns they are often seen as a symbol of the solar year, and fertility.  ancient egyptians also believed that mummy's soul rose up in the form of a goose with a human head.  the roman goddess juno considered the goose sacred.  why?  it was said that that the geese in her temple honked and cackled to warn her of the barbarians coming.  since then geese have been honored for their protective nature.

by the18th century the goose became the traditional christmas dinner.

in the christian tradition, the 6 geese symbolize the six days in which God created the world.

tomorrow we look at the 7 swans, and the last of the birds. ;)

thanks for stopping by!  happy stamping!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

5 golden rings . . . here we go again --

well -- if you were disappointed yesterday to find out that you had been singing the song wrong all these years because it's "colly birds" instead of "calling birds" -- hang onto your hat.

the 5 golden rings this refers to is not 5 lovely pieces of jewelry at all -- but in fact it refers to the ring on the neck of a pheasant.  (are you starting to see a pattern here -- birds?)

pheasants are native to asia and were brought to europe where they were released into the wild and thrived.  pheasants were a prized bird and were not only tasty, but were linked to royalty and nobility.  legends link the pheasant to jason and the argonauts bringing back golden birds (later believed to be pheasants).  from roman times onward pheasants were reserved for royalty.

so -- we learn something new again today.  the 5 golden rings here refer to the 5 ring-necked pheasants, a dish that was probably served at the kings 12th - night festivities.

the 5 gold rings symbolize the first 5 books of the old testament in the christian tradition.

i can assure you that tomorrow's gift - 6 geese a layin' is in fact geese, surprise, more birds (hehe).  so be sure to stop back in tomorrow to learn of their story.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

4 calling birds. . . nope

today's 12 days of christmas "gift" are 4 colly birds .  yes, you read that right.  all these years you have been singing "calling" birds.  no one is sure where the mix up happened, but it is believed that they really are called colly or collie birds.  a colly bird is basically a european blackbird.  colly means black.  and in europe a coal mine was called a colliery and colly or collie is derived from this.

so, why would you give your true love 4 crows?  it would have been a gift of food.  blackbirds were plentiful and a common food at the time.  we see them again in the nursery rhyme - sing a song of sixpence, we see them being served in a meat pie.  this may have been the way they were commonly served.

in the christian tradition the 4 colly birds symbolize the  four gospels or evangelists - matthew, mark, luke and john.

so -- we've (myself included) have learned something new today  -- and been singing the carol wrong all these years.  tune in tomorrow and see what other surprise i might dig up! :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

3 french hens . . .

today is the 3rd day of christmas, your gift today is 3 french hens.

during the 18th century, large, exotic fowl were brought to england from the orient.  these birds mated with the fowl already there, and it is said that the new breed is the 'french hens" the song and tradition talk about.  white chickens are believed to bring good luck, and hens are said to symbolize motherly devotion.

in the christian aspect of the 12 days of christmas the three french hens symbolize the holy trinity - father, son, and holy spirit.  it is also said to symbolize faith, hope, and charity - the theological virtues.

by the way -- if you are showering your loved ones with these gifts this year -  it will cost $ $27,393 this year -- unless you repeat the gifts as the song suggests.

here is a 3rd day of christmas freebie for you - 12 days of christmas word search .  it's printable!  enjoy!  tune in tomorrow for 4 calling birds!

thanks for stopping by!  happy stamping --


Thursday, December 26, 2013

on the second day of christmas -----

day 2 -  2 turtle doves

doves for centuries have symbolized love and fertility.    venus, the roman goddess of love and beauty, was born of water where doves are often depicted drinking.

doves are believed to mate for life.  today they symbolize devotion, faithfulness and love forever.

the christian symbol of the doves is the Holy Spirit.  the two turtle doves here represent the old and new testament.

stop by tomorrow to learn about the three french hens. :)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

a look at the 12 days of christmas ---

the 12 days of christmas always intrigued me.  not necessarily the song -- some versions are annoying -- but the concept and it's history.  so i've decided to do some research and writing about them. be sure to check back over the next 12 days and learn more about each day ---

we'll start off with a bit of history on the 12 days of chrismas in general.  the 1st day of christmas is christmas day itself.  the 12 days stretch to january 6 - epiphany.  it dates back to the early 4th century christian church.

the 12 days of chirstmas first appeared in a children's book entitled  "mirth without mischief" in england in 1780.  it appears to be a memory game not a carol.  the first player would recite the verse, and each player would need to recite their verse and all of the previous ones.  if the player missed a verse they would give some sort of food to someone else.  this game became popular at 12th night parties - another tradition.  these parties were held the night of  january 5th (the 12th night).

the song dates back to the 18th century in either england or france..

there are different viewpoints on what the days mean and represent.  i will touch on two versions.

day 1 -  a partridge in a pear tree

folklore says that a young maiden was to walk backwards around a pear tree three times on christmas morning.  when she stopped and looked up into the branches she should see the image of her future husband.

in england, the red-legged partridge was known to sit in pear trees. this bird was not found in england until the french introduced it in 1770.  since the verse is earlier then the time many believe the song originates from france.

the christian symbolism of this first day of christmas the partridge represents jesus christ - our true love.

be sure to stop by tomorrow for day 2! :)

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