While we might have trouble remembering the words to this traditional holiday song, we all recognize it when it plays and stumble as we try to sing along. The debate that rose at this year’s Christmas Eve party was just what does the song mean? Are the twelve days of the song leading up to or away from Christmas Day? That question got me thinking.
On the website www.christianitytoday.com/history I found my answer. Advent, the fourth Sunday before Christmas, begins the count-down to Christmas Day, which is then followed by the celebration of the twelve days of the Christmas season, and ends with the feast of the Epiphany on June 6th. This was the traditional Christian celebration of Christmas, as opposed to our modern celebration which begins sometime in November and ends abruptly on December 26th.
Additional research taught me the song is probably of French origin first published in England in 1780 as a chant or rhyme without music. It may have been a children’s memory game. The tune we use today came about in 1909. It’s an arrangement of a traditional English folk song by Frederic Austin. He was the first to introduce the elongated “five golden rings” we all belt out with exuberance to show everyone else that we at least know that line.
Personally, I don’t think I’m up to an additional twelve days of Christmas celebrations. I feel like I’ve been preparing, and then celebrating, for long enough. I look forward to the quiet of winter after the New Year’s celebrations are over. I don’t care for the cold, and the snow is at its best when viewed through a window with a glass of wine (or coffee) in one hand, a book in the other, and a roaring fire in the background; but I do love the quiet. Other than this blog, I have not had time to do any serious writing in weeks. I’m anxious to get back to my next novel.
I’m even looking forward to the day I discover all the tins of Christmas cookies empty…and that’s saying a lot…because clearly knowing I shouldn’t eat anymore is not enough to stop me from eating more.
Happy New Year to all of you and I’ll see you again on the other side of all this holiday madness.