The 12 Days of Christmas and a bit about Carols
We've all heard of the carol '12 days of Christmas', in which the true love gives ever and ever more elaborate and expensive gifts but lets delve in a bit deeper. Actually, before we do let me just tell you a bit about carols themselves.
Carols referred to songs which were danced to, not just listened to as we do now. They were also sung during all four seasons but the tradition of singing them at Christmas seems to be the only one that has survived. Having said that, it could be that as we don't refer to them as carols in any other season we also don't recognise them as such.
The twelve days of Christmas culminate on the twelfth night when there would have been a large celebration. In rich houses during the medieval period, the roles of the servants and their masters were reversed with the servants being served by their employers. The twelfth night celebration marked the end of winter which had begun on Hallows Eve (Halloween).
Christmas Cake was supposed to be eaten on Twelfth Night as part of the celebrations. Which explains why we would make such a rich cake on a day known for feasting, it's because it wasn't originally made to be eaten on Christmas Day. A bean or token have been baked into the cakes over time. Whoever found the bean/token was Lord, or Lady, of Misrule for the evening, would be dressed as a king or queen and lead the revelry! Games were played during Twelfth Night celebrations including a game where an egg was tossed between partners who stood further a further apart, if it dropped you lost and passing an egg around on spoons - which we may not identify more with school sports day! A rather dangerous sounding game of 'Snapdragon' was also played where players would try and pick dried fruit from a try of flaming brandy!
Twelfth night is the eve of Epiphany and traditionally when Christmas decorations are taken down - will any of you wait that long?