12 Days of Christmas!
Merry Christmas to one and all! A time of joy, peace, love and charity is finally here! The past 12 days our Christmas countdown has been featuring the 12 Days of Christmas and what each day means!
Since, to the many true followers of Christmas, today is only the beginning of a 12-day long celebration as, this celebration leads up to the day we know as the ‘Epiphany’ or ‘The Feast of The Three Kings’.
Why The 12 Days of Christmas Are Important
Contrary to popular belief, the 12 Days of Christmas (starting 25th December to 6 January) are of more importance as it is these 12 Days when the celebrations actually begin, traditionally speaking. Each day is dedicated to different saints associated with Christmas, all leading to the ‘Twelfth Night’, the biggest celebration of them all!
This night was the biggest night in the year! During this night there were so many traditions and customs that contributed to making the night special for everyone – regardless of one’s social status.
Here are a few traditions and customs:
1. Role Reversal
While it was common for those of lower status to serve those of a higher status, the Twelfth Night was completely different! The people of the higher status served the people of lower status!
This was one way of showing their appreciation for all the service given by them throughout the year.
Later it became a tradition for the men to dress as women and vice-versa. They then went around from door-to-door singing songs and asking for money.
2. Twelfth Night Cake
This was the biggest feast of the year, and what is a feast without a cake? Now, we aren’t talking about just any cake, we are talking about the Twelfth Night Cake!
You’re probably wondering what is so special about this Twelfth Night Cake. Well, this was one of the richest cakes of that time; made with butter, eggs, nuts, fruits and spices!
The Italian Panettone is believed to be the closest cake that we have to the Twelfth Night cake!
3. The Dried Pea
The cake dough was often mixed with a little dried pea. The idea of doing this was to elect a King or Queen for the night. The lucky person who found the dry pea in their piece of cake was then clothed in royal clothing, their beauty was brought out with their view of makeup, and then, they were appointed the King or Queen for the night!
Furthermore, this King or Queen of Misrule had the power to run the celebrations that night!
4. Music and Dancing
As at any other celebration, music and dance were a must at the Twelfth Night. Pipes were played as a part of the tradition, especially bagpipes!
Many games were conducted in order to keep the guests entertained.
A few of the favorite games were:
This particular game is still played by many people. Two people toss an egg back and forth to each other. Each turn, moving further from the other, until the egg breaks!
This game involves a bowl of flaming brandy with a few dried fruits of nuts inside it. The aim of the game was to remove the pieces of fruit or nuts from the flaming bowl of brandy, using your bare hand.
Wassailing was a tradition followed only on the Twelfth Night. Although a few rich people practiced this tradition right through the 12 Days of Christmas.
The word ‘Wassailing’ comes from the drink ‘Wassail’, which is very seldom made now. This drink is also called ‘Lamb’s Wool’ due to its frothy appearance.
Furthermore, the combination of mulled ale, roasted apples, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, sugar, eggs and curdled cream, came together to create this drink.
12 Days Of Christmas Song
It is believed that the Roman Catholics wrote the song 12 Days of Christmas, as a way to teach children about the various teachings of the Church.
Some people say that this song is just a memory game. Where one person would begin with the first gift and then the next would add to it and so on.
Either way, the song is extremely popular and very significant to people around the world.
There are 12 gifts in the song – 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! – as featured by us over the past 12 days in our Christmas Countdown.