In our work this year we have been tasked with drafting content on a diverse range of topics, covering everything from wind load analysis and proprietary estoppel to password security and psychometric assessments.
Our clients all tend to lean towards legal services, engineering, technology and finance, all serious subjects, with little room for creative writing, in its truest sense. Admittedly, I believe every client would prefer to correct than create content, so everything we write is creative to some extent.
With all this in mind, I set the challenge for everyone in our team to write a blog about each present given to the singer by their true love, as recounted in the carol, The 12 Days of Christmas.
The 12 Days of Christmas explained
There are many explanations offered for the origins of the song, with most recognising it as the period in Christian theology between the birth of Christ on December 25 and the coming of the three wise men (or the Epiphany) on January 6.
The history of the carol remains something of a mystery, with the earliest version appearing in a 1780 children's book called Mirth Without Mischief, but some historians believe the song is French and was designed as a memory game, designed to test the singer’s recall of the lyrics.
A popular theory is that song contains coded references to Christianity, perhaps written to help Christians avoid persecution whilst learning and sharing the tenets of their faith.
An explanation of the presents would appear to be something like this:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree – alludes to the birth of Jesus on the first day, December 25.
Two Turtle Doves – alludes to the two testaments, Old and New.
Three French Hens – alludes to the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Four Calling Birds – alludes to the Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Five Golden Rings – alludes to the first Five Books of the Old Testament.
Six Geese A-laying – alludes to the six days of the Creation
Seven Swans A-swimming – alludes to the seven sacraments; Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy
Eight Maids A-milking – alludes to the Eight Beatitudes of Jesus
Nine Ladies Dancing – alludes to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.
Ten Lords A-leaping – alludes to the ten commandments
Eleven Pipers Piping – alludes to the faithful apostles
Twelve Drummers Drumming – alludes to the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed
On the first day of Christmas
Most mentions in the song goes to day one of course, when the singer’s true love presented them with a Partridge in a Pear Tree, which is where the problems start.
The most common breed in the UK is the red-legged partridge, but it has become endangered now following a sharp decline in numbers, thanks to habitat erosion. However, the problem is that partridges are a ground-dwelling species and will rarely if ever be found in trees, let alone pear trees.
It’s probably just a lot of nonsense that scans well, with just the right cadence for the tune to be carried by even the most tone deaf reveller. So, stop worrying about what it all means and just enjoy the fact that it’s not ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ you’re being expected to sing.