DECEMBER 26 - The 12 Days of Christmas Begin

DECEMBER 26 - The 12 Days of Christmas Begin
(From Dec 26, St. Stephen's Day,
through Jan 6, The Feast of the Epiphany)

The Twelve Days of Christmas (song)

Music origin

The song reportedly was first performed by James O. Halliwell in 1842, though it was used in European and Scandinavian traditions as early as the 16th century.

In the early 20th century, Frederic Austin wrote an arrangement where he added his melody from "Five gold(en) rings" onwards (The New Oxford Book of Carols), which has since become standard. The copyright to this arrangement was registered in 1909 is still active and is owned by Novello & Co. Limited.

Lyrics

Origin

The twelve days of Christmas in the song are the twelve days from the day after Christmas (December 26) (Boxing Day or St. Stephen's Day, as being the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr) to the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day).

Although the specific origins of the chant are not known, it possibly began as a Twelfth Night "memories-and-forfeits" game, in which a leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet.

This is how the game is offered up in its earliest known printed version, in the children's book Mirth without Mischief (c. 1780), which 100 years later Lady Gomme, a collector of folktales and rhymes, described playing every Twelfth Day night before eating mince pies and twelfth cake.

Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking."

The song apparently is older than the printed version, though it is not known how much older. Textual evidence indicates that the song was not English in origin, but French, though it is considered an English carol. Three French versions of the song are known.

If the "partridge in a pear tree" of the English version is to be taken literally, then it seems as if the chant comes from France, since the red-legged (or French) partridge, which perches in trees more frequently than the native common (or grey) partridge, was not successfully introduced into England until about 1770.

Structure


"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a cumulative song, meaning that each verse is built on top of the previous verses. There are twelve verses, each describing a gift given by "my true love" on one of the twelve days of Christmas.

The first verse runs:
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol (Roud # 68) which enumerates a series of increasingly grandiose gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas, ultimately leaving the singer with 364 gifts from her "true love." However, textual evidence may indicate that the song actually is French in origin.

It is a cumulative song, meaning that each verse is built on top of the previous verses. It has been one of the most popular and most-recorded Christmas songs in America and Europe throughout the past century.


Variations

There are many variations of this song in which the last four objects are arranged in a different order (for example — twelve lords a-leaping, eleven ladies (or dames a-) dancing, ten pipers piping, nine drummers drumming). At least one version has "ten fiddlers fiddling," and another has "nine ladies waiting." Still another version alters the fourth gift to "four mockingbirds."

The authoritative, traditional version of the chant in England appears in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, as follows:

    The twelfth day of Christmas, | My true love sent to me | Twelve lords a-leaping, | Eleven ladies dancing, | Ten pipers piping, | Nine drummers drumming, | Eight maids a-milking, | Seven swans a-swimming, | Six geese a-laying, | Five gold rings, | Four colly birds, | Three French hens, | Two turtle doves, and | A partridge in a pear tree.

There are some regional variants of the verb in the opening line of each verse. In the United States the true love "gave" the gifts to the singer. In the British version, the true love "sent" the gifts to the singer.

It has been suggested by a number of sources over the years that the pear tree is in fact supposed to be perdrix, French for partridge and pronounced per-dree, and was simply copied down incorrectly when the oral version of the game was transcribed. The original line would have been: "A partridge, une perdrix."

A minor variant is the singing of "golden" rather than "gold" rings, to avoid having to stretch "gold" into two syllables ("go-old").

Some misinterpretations have crept into the English-language version over the years.

The fourth day's gift is often stated as four calling birds but originally was four colly birds, using another word for a blackbird. The fifth day's gift of golden rings refers not to jewelry but to ring-necked birds such as the ring-necked pheasant.

When these errors are corrected, the pattern of the first seven gifts all being birds is restored.

There is a version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that is still sung in Sussex in which the four colly birds are replaced by canaries.

In Australia, a number of versions are sung, all of which replace the traditional gifts with items (mainly native animals) more likely to be found in that country.

France

In the west of France the piece is known as a song, "La foi de la loi," and is sung "avec solennite," the sequence being: a good stuffing without bones, two breasts of veal, three joints of beef, four pigs' trotters, five legs of mutton, six partridges with cabbage, seven spitted rabbits, eight plates of salad, nine dishes for a chapter of canons, ten full casks, eleven beautiful full-breasted maidens, and twelve musketeers with their swords.

Scotland


In Scotland, early in the 19th century, the recitation began: "The king sent his lady on the first Yule day, | A popingo-aye [parrot]; | Wha learns my carol and carries it away?" The succeeding gifts were three partridges, three plovers, a goose that was grey, three starlings, three goldspinks, a bull that was brown, three ducks a-merry laying, three swans a-merry swimming, an Arabian baboon, three hinds a-merry hunting, three maids a-merry dancing, three stalks o' merry corn.

Meaning


The meaning of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," if it has any, has yet to be satisfactorily explained. "Suggestions have been made that the gifts have significance, as representing the food or sport for each month of the year. Importance [certainly has] long been attached to the Twelve Days, when, for instance, the weather on each day was carefully observed to see what it would be in the corresponding month of the coming year. Nevertheless, whatever the ultimate origin of the chant, it seems probable [that] the lines that survive today both in England and France are merely an irreligious travesty."

A bit of modern folklore claims that the song's lyrics were written as a "catechism song" to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practicing Catholicism was discouraged in England (1558 until 1829). There is no substantive primary evidence supporting this claim, and no evidence that the claim is historical, or "anything but a fanciful modern day speculation."

In fact, variations in lyrics provide evidence against the "catechism song" origin. For example, the four Gospels often are described as the "four calling birds," when in fact the phrase "calling birds" is a modern (probably 20th century) phonetic misunderstanding of "colly birds" (blackbirds).


From:  http://www.carols.org.uk/the_twelve_days_of_christmas.htm

Lyrics
The Twelve Days of Christmas (12 Days of Christmas)

Play Music !
On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
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.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
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.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing,
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.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
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.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
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.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
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!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



DECEMBER 26 - St. Stephen's Day
Dec 26  St. Stephen's Day,  or Boxing Day


St. Stephen's Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint's day celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. Many Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to the Julian calendar and mark St. Stephen's Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which places it on January 9 according to the Gregorian calendar used in secular (and Western) contexts. It commemorates St Stephen, the first Christian martyr or protomartyr.

Ireland

In Ireland the day is one of nine official public holidays .

In Irish it is called Lá Fhéile Stiofán or Lá an Dreoilín — the latter translates literally as another English name used, the Day of the Wren or Wren's Day. When used in this context, "wren" is often pronounced "ran". This name alludes to several legends, including those found in Ireland linking episodes in the life of Jesus to the wren. Although now mostly a discontinued tradition, in certain parts of Ireland persons carrying either an effigy of a wren or an actual caged wren [live or dead], travel from house to house playing music, singing and dancing. Depending on which region of the country, they are called Wrenboys and Mummers. A Mummer's Festival is held at this time every year in the village of New Inn, Co. Galway and Dingle Co. Kerry. St Stephen's Day is also a popular day for visiting family members. A popular rhyme, known to many Irish children and sung at each house visited by the mummers goes as follows (this version popularized by the Irish group The Clancy Brothers):
    The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
    St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,
    Although he was little his honour was great,
    Jump up me lads and give us a treat.

    As I was going to Killenaule,
    I met a wren upon the wall.
    Up with me wattle and knocked him down,
    And brought him in to Carrick Town.

    Droolin, Droolin, where’s your nest?
    Tis in the bush that I love best
    In the tree, the holly tree,
    Where all the boys do follow me.

    Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
    And give us a penny to bury the wren.

    I followed the wren three miles or more,
    Three miles or more three miles or more.
    I followed the wren three miles or more,
    At six o’clock in the morning.

    I have a little box under me arm,
    Under me arm under me arm.
    I have a little box under me arm,
    A penny or tuppence would do it no harm.

    Mrs. Clancy's a very good woman,
    a very good woman, a very good woman,
    Mrs. Clancy's a very good woman,
    She give us a penny to bury the wren.

Wales

St. Stephen's Day in Wales is known as Gwyl San Steffan. Ancient Welsh custom, discontinued in the 19th century, included bleeding of livestock and "holming" (beating or slashing with holly branches) of late risers and female servants.

Catalonia

St. Stephen's Day (Sant Esteve) on December 26 is a traditional Catalan holiday. It is celebrated right after Christmas, with a big meal including canelons. These are stuffed with the ground remaining meat from the escudella i carn d'olla, turkey or capó of the previous day.

Serbia and Republika Srpska

St. Stephen is the patron saint of Serbia and the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and St. Stephen's Day is celebrated as the Day of the Republika Srpska. It falls on January 9 by the Gregorian calendar (the standard international calendar), as the Serbian Orthodox Church adheres to the Julian calendar. Serbian medieval rulers' title was Stefan (Stephen).

Hungary
See also: Feast day of St Stephen, King and Confessor

St. Stephen's Day in Hungary refers to August 20, the day on which the relics of King St. Stephen, patron saint of Hungary, were transferred to the city of Buda. This day is the ultimate public holiday in Hungary. Stephen, originally named Vajk, was the son of the pagan chieftain Géza but was baptized a Christian at the age of ten, and was given the Latin name "Stephanus" ("István" in Hungarian). In 997, a succession struggle between the Christian Stephen and his uncle, the pagan chieftain Koppány, ended in a victory for Stephen and his followers. As a result, the Magyar tribes were united into one nation and converted from paganism to Christianity; Pope Sylvester II presented him with a crown (the Crown of St. Stephen, still a symbol of Hungary) as a token of gratitude. In 1083 A.D. Pope Gregory VII canonized Stephen, and he has since been referred to as Saint Stephen of Hungary.

Under communism St. Stephen's Day was referred to in Hungary as "The celebration of the new bread — the end of the harvest".

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



DECEMBER 26 - Boxing Day

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Boxing Day
Observed by     Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, United Kingdom
Type     Bank Holiday / Public Holiday
Date     26 December
Related to     St. Stephen's Day

    Christmas box redirects here; it may also refer to shrubs of the genus Sarcococca.

Boxing Day is a bank holiday or a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations with a mainly Christian population. In South Africa this public holiday is now known as the Day of Goodwill.

Etymology

The name derives from the English tradition giving gifts (a "Christmas box") to less fortunate members of society in the days when people worked in rural economies such as estates or hundreds. It later extended to service workers (traditionally laborers, servants, service staff, postal workers and tradespeople) in the United Kingdom.

Public holiday

Boxing Day is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, St. Stephen's Day and the day after Christmas Day. Unlike St. Stephen's Day, Boxing Day has become a secular holiday and is not always on 26 December: its associated public holiday can be moved to the next weekday if 26 December is a Saturday or Sunday. The date of observance of Boxing Day varies between countries.

In Ireland — when it was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland — the UK's Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the feast day of St. Stephen's Day as a non-moveable public holiday on 26 December. Since Partition, the name "Boxing Day" is used only by the authorities in Northern Ireland (which remained part of the United Kingdom). There Boxing Day is a moveable public holiday in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

The Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971 established "Boxing Day" as a public holiday in Scotland. In the Australian state of South Australia, 26 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day.

Calendar

In the countries that observe this holiday, 26 December is commonly referred to as Boxing Day and St. Stephen's Day, no matter what day of the week it occurs. However, in some countries, holidays falling on Saturday or Sunday are often observed on the next weekday. Technically, Boxing Day cannot be on a Sunday — that day being the officially recognised day of worship, so traditionally it was the next working day of the week following Christmas Day, (i.e. any day from Monday to Saturday).

In recent times this tradition has been either forgotten or ignored. Most people consider 26 December to be Boxing Day even when it falls on a Sunday. The last year 26 December was called Christmas Sunday in the United Kingdom and Canada, was in 1993. The next time the date fell on a Sunday (1999), it was known as Boxing Day.

If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, then Monday 28 December is declared a bank or public holiday. In the United Kingdom and some other countries, this is accomplished by Royal Proclamation. In some Canadian provinces, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday that is always celebrated on 26 December. As with most statutory holidays in Canada, if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, compensation days are given in the following week.

If Boxing Day falls on a Sunday in countries where it is a bank or public holiday, the Statutory Holiday is moved to Monday December 27. In that event, Christmas Day would be on a Saturday, so Tuesday 28 December would be declared a holiday in its stead, that being the next available working day — thus the Boxing Day holiday occurs before the substitute Christmas holiday.

If Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, then Boxing Day is on Monday 26 December, and no Royal Proclamation is required. In such a circumstance, a 'substitute bank holiday in the place of Christmas Day' is declared for Tuesday 27 December, again with the Boxing Day holiday occurring before the substitute Christmas holiday.

Legality

Although the same legislation—the Bank Holidays Act 1871—originally established the bank holidays throughout the United Kingdom, the day after Christmas was defined as Boxing Day in England and Wales, and the feast day of St. Stephen's Day in Ireland.

Shopping

In some states of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price decreases. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue.

Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. It is not uncommon for long queues early on the morning of 26 December, hours before the opening of shops holding the big sales, especially at big-box consumer electronics retailers. Once inside, the shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have a limited quantity of big draw or deeply discounted items. Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began queueing up, providing video of shoppers standing in line and later leaving with their purchased items.

The Boxing Day sales have the potential for customer stampedes, injuries and even fatalities. As a result, many retailers have implemented practices aimed at controlling large numbers of shoppers, most whom are typically irate due to the cold (or, in Australia, hot) weather, and anxious for fear of not getting a rare item. They may limit entrances, restrict the number of patrons in a store at time, provide to people at the head of the line to guarantee them a hot ticket item, and canvass lined-up shoppers to inform them of inventory limitations.

In recent years, retailers have expanded their deals to "Boxing Week". While Boxing Day is 26 December, many retailers who hold Boxing Day Sales will run the sales for several days before or after 26 December, often up to New Year's Eve. Notably in the recession of late 2008, a record number of retailers were holding early promotions due to a weak economy.

In some areas of Canada, particularly in Atlantic Canada and parts of Northern Ontario, most retailers are prohibited by law from opening on Boxing Day. In these cases, any sales specifically scheduled for 26 December are moved to the 27th.

Sport

In England, it is traditional for the Premiership and the Football League, as well as minor leagues and Rugby Football leagues, to issue a full programme of football and Rugby matches for Boxing Day. Traditionally matches on Boxing Day are played against local rivals. This was originally to lessen the burden on teams and fans of having to travel to an away game on the day after Christmas Day. It also makes the day an important one in the sporting calendar.

The association of Boxing Day with sport in early village celebrations has led to the folk etymology that Boxing Day is traditionally associated with boxing.

Australia holds the first day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the start to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

The IIHF World U20 Championship (Ice Hockey) typically begins on 26 December. It is most often hosted in Europe.

IFA Premiership sides Linfield and Glentoran contest the Belfast Derby on Boxing Day each year. Overall the Glens have had the upper hand, winning a total of four games more than their rivals.

Because of a riot at Windsor Park during the game on Boxing Day 2008, the IFA suspended the game from taking place on the traditional Boxing Day the next year. Challengers overturned this ruling in February 2009, and fans expect the game to be held on 26 December 2009.


JANUARY 6 - The Feast of the Epiphany

Epiphany, is a Christian feast day which celebrates the revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. Epiphany falls on January 6 in the modern Gregorian Calendar followed by most Western churches. Many of the Eastern Churches use the traditional Julian Calendar, where Epiphany occurs on the Gregorian Calendar's January 19. Western Christians commemorate the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the child Jesus on this day, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. It is also called Theophany, especially by Eastern Christians.

History

The observance had its origins in the Eastern Christian Churches, and was a general celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It included the commemoration of: his birth; the visit of the Magi ("Wise Men", as Magi were Persian priests) to Bethlehem; all of Jesus' childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee. It seems fairly clear that the Baptism was the primary event being commemorated.

Christians fixed the date of the feast on January 6 quite early in their history. Ancient liturgies noted Illuminatio, Manifestatio, Declaratio (Illumination, Manifestation, Declaration); cf. Matthew 3:13–17; Luke 3:22; and John 2:1–11; where the Baptism and the Marriage at Cana were dwelt upon. Western Christians have traditionally emphasized the "Revelation to the Gentiles" mentioned in Luke, where the term Gentile means all non-Jewish peoples. The Biblical Magi, who represented the non-Jewish peoples of the world, paid homage to the infant Jesus in stark contrast to Herod the Great (King of Judea), who sought to kill him. In this event, Christian writers also inferred a revelation to the Children of Israel. Saint John Chrysostom identified the significance of the meeting between the Magi and Herod's court: "The star had been hidden from them so that, on finding themselves without their guide, they would have no alternative but to consult the Jews. In this way the birth of Jesus would be made known to all."

The earliest reference to Epiphany as a Christian feast was in A.D. 361, by Ammianus Marcellinus St. Epiphanius says that January 6 is hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion (Christ's "Birthday; that is, His Epiphany"). He also asserts that the Miracle at Cana occurred on the same calendar day.

In 385, the pilgrim Egeria (also known as Silvia) described a celebration in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which she called "Epiphany" (epiphania) that commemorated the Nativity of Christ. Even at this early date, there was an octave associated with the feast.

In a sermon delivered on December 25, 380, St. Gregory of Nazianzus referred to the day as ta theophania ("the Theophany", an alternative name for Epiphany), saying expressly that it is a day commemorating he hagia tou Christou gennesis ("the holy nativity of Christ") and told his listeners that they would soon be celebrating the baptism of Christ. Then, on January 6 and 7, he preached two more sermons, wherein he declared that the celebration of the birth of Christ and the visitation of the Magi had already taken place, and that they would now commemorate his Baptism. At this time, celebration of the two events was beginning to be observed on separate occasions, at least in Cappadocia.

Saint John Cassian says that even in his time (beginning of the 5th century), the Egyptian monasteries celebrated the Nativity and Baptism together on January 6. The Armenian Apostolic Church continues to celebrate January 6 as the only commemoration of the Nativity.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediav



The Twelve Days of Christmas

 by Dennis Bratcher

"The Twelve Days of Christmas is probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th). In some traditions, the first day of Christmas begins on the evening of December 25th with the following day considered the First Day of Christmas (December 26th). In these traditions, the twelve days begin December 26 and include Epiphany on January 6."

Read more: 
http://www.crivoice.org/cy12days.html