12 Days of Christmas: An Underground Catechism Song?

Fact or Fiction?

The Real Meaning behind the 12 Days of Christmas

Partridge in a Pear Tree illustration  At one time, it was a crime to be Catholic.

During 1558 to 1829, Catholics in England were prohibited by law from any practice of their faith… private or public.  To be caught with anything in writing, indicating the adherence to the Catholic Faith, would find a person imprisoned, hanged…or hanged, drawn and quartered.

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith… a memory aid.

Rosary

Despite the absence of hard evidence that the 12 Days of Christmas is a song of catechism, it can still be used as a learning tool.

In 1979, a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh D. McKellar, published an article, “How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas”, claiming that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” lyrics were intended as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practising Catholicism was criminalized in England (1558 until 1829). McKellar offered no evidence for his claim and subsequently admitted that the purported associations were his own invention.[29] The idea was further popularized by a Catholic priest, Fr. Hal Stockert, in an article he wrote in 1982 and posted online in 1995,[30][31] In 1987 and 1992, Fr. James Gilhooley, chaplain of Mount Saint Mary College of Newburgh, New York repeated these claims.[32][33] None of the enumerated items would distinguish Catholics from Protestants, and so would hardly need to be secretly encoded.[3]

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, author of the Crossroads Initiative,  writes “The “Twelve Days of Christmas” refer to the eight days of the Christmas Octave from December 25 to New Years Day, and the four additional days up to and including the eve of January 6, the traditional date of the Epiphany. In the USA and many other countries, Epiphany is now celebrated on the first Sunday after New Years, so the exact number 12 does not necessarily apply. But the point is, don’t throw out the tree on the 26th–the birth of the Savior can’t be celebrated adequately in one day. Let the celebration continue through at least through the Feast of the Epiphany–if not through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

According to the Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the famous song about the 12 Days of Christmas was written in England as a catechism song for young Catholics in the days when it was illegal to practice or teach the Catholic Faith. It contains hidden meanings intended to help children remember lessons of faith. Instead of referring to an earthly suitor, the “true love” mentioned in the song really refers to God. The “me” who receives the presents is symbolic of every baptized person.

There appears to be no conclusive historical evidence to prove this origin of the song, Nevertheless, the traditional association between the gifts mentioned in the song and various spiritual gifts is a fun way to turn a seemingly secular Christmas carol into a valuable catechetical tool. So let’s have fun with it!”

12 Days of Christmas

The song’s gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith.  The “true love” mentioned in the song refers to God, Himself.  The “me” who receives the presents refers to every baptized person.  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (A mother partridge will feign injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings.)

the bird, partridge

A mother partridge will distract a predictor from her young in order to save them. The partridge in the song “12 Days of Christmas” represents Jesus.

The other symbols mean the following:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity)

4 Calling Birds = The Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch,” which gives the history of man’s fall from Grace.

6 Geese-a-Laying = The Six Days of Creation

7 Swans-a-Swimming = the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the 7 sacraments

8 Maids-a-Milking = the Eight Beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing = the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords-a-Leaping = the Ten Commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the Eleven faithful Apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the Twelve points of Doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

 

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In Remembrance – William Shakespeare

Perhaps the most prolific and influential writers in the world, William Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. birth date is not known, but was baptised on April 26, 1564.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (April 1564 to April 23, 1616)

He was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon.” His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, of which the authorship of some is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and brought up in  At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories and these works remain regarded as some of the best work produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare’s. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as “not of an age, but for all time.” In the 20th and 21st century, his work has been repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

Shakespeare died at the age of 52 on April 23, 1616.  He was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church two days after his death. The epitaph carved into the stone slab covering his grave includes a curse against moving his bones, which was carefully avoided during restoration of the church in 2008:Shakespeare's grave

Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,

To digg the dvst encloased heare.

Bleste be  man  spares thes stones,

And cvrst be he  moves my bones.

(Modern spelling: Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear, / To dig the dust enclosed here. / Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones.)

Sometime before 1623, a funerary monument was erected in his memory on the north wall, with a half-effigy of him in the act of writing. Its plaque compares him to Nestor, Socrates, and Virgil. In 1623, in conjunction with the publication of the First Folio, the Droeshout engraving was published.

Shakespeare has been commemorated in many statues and memorials around the world, including funeral monuments in Southwark Cathedral and Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

(source: Wikipedia.org)

Check out Swide’s Top 10 best Romeo and Juliet movies ever.

Guy Fawkes Day

On 5 November 1605 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination by lighting bonfires, “always provided that ‘this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder'”. An Act of Parliament designated each 5 November as a day of thanksgiving for “the joyful day of deliverance”, and remained in force until 1859. Although he was only one of 13 conspirators, Fawkes is today the individual most associated with the failed Plot.

Guy Fawkes mask

The Guy Fawkes mask is a stylised depiction of Guy Fawkes, the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in London in 1605. The use of a mask on an effigy has long roots as part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations.

In Britain, 5 November has variously been called Guy Fawkes Night, Guy Fawkes Day, Plot Night  and Bonfire Night; the latter can be traced directly back to the original celebration of 5 November 1605.  Bonfires were accompanied by fireworks from the 1650s onwards, and it became the custom to burn an effigy (usually the pope) after 1673, when the heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, made his conversion to Catholicism public. Effigies of other notable figures who have become targets for the public’s ire, such as Paul Kruger and Margaret Thatcher, have also found their way onto the bonfires, although most modern effigies are of Fawkes. The “guy” is normally created by children, from old clothes, newspapers, and a mask. During the 19th century, “guy” came to mean an oddly dressed person, but in American English it lost any pejorative connotation, and was used to refer to any male person.

William Harrison Ainsworth’s 1841 historical romance Guy Fawkes; or, The Gunpowder Treason portrays Fawkes in a generally sympathetic light, and transformed him in the public perception into an “acceptable fictional character”. Fawkes subsequently appeared as “essentially an action hero” in children’s books and penny dreadfuls such as The Boyhood Days of Guy Fawkes; or, The Conspirators of Old London, published in about 1905. Historian Lewis Call has observed that Fawkes is now “a major icon in modern political culture”. He went on to write that the image of Fawkes’s face became “a potentially powerful instrument for the articulation of postmodern anarchism”[h] during the late 20th century, exemplified by the mask worn by V in the comic book series V for Vendetta, who fights against a fictional fascist English state.

Guy Fawkes is sometimes toasted as “the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.”

Source: Wikipedia

James Bond wins at Oscars®

Skyfall Wins the Gold

Congratulations to Adele and Paul Epworth for their Oscar®-winning Best Original song “Skyfall.    They truly deserve it.

Any doubts will be removed after you watch the video below.

The song is great and so is the movie.  007 is number one in our eyes!

And, as a bonus, those watching the Oscar® ceremony were given the treat of hearing Dame Shirley Bassey sing her Bond song “Goldfinger.”

Happy 50th anniversary, James!

Blackcurrant and Mascarpone Victoria Sponge

FrugalFeeding

Blackcurrant and Mascarpone Victoria Sponge

Victoria sponge – the quintessential English teatime treat – is, according to tradition, a basic sandwich cake filled with either strawberry or raspberry jam and dusted liberally with icing sugar (though a little whipped cream might make an appearance). Delightful as tradition is, there’s nothing wrong with zesting proceedings up a little – literally. The addition of orange and lemon zest is a great way of achieving a very special flavour, without doing away with the lightness of the perfect sponge cake.

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