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On the second day of Christmas . . .

At least, I believe it's the second day of Christmas. The twelve days traditionally start on Christmas night and run through the morning of January 6th, which is Three Kings Day, Eastern Orthodox Christmas, Epiphany and/or "little Christmas." The days of Christmas are measured in Hebrew fashion - they start at evening of a given day and run through the next day. Hence, the first day of Christmas starts in the evening of December 25th and ends at sundown on the 26th. The final day, or twelfth day, begins in the evening of January 5th and ends on the 6th. January 5th, for those of you keeping count and conversant with Shakespeare, is Twelfth Night. But some traditions shift the dates, so that the days start with the 26th and roll through the 6th, so that Twelfth Night is on January 6th. Either way, right now it's "the second day of Christmas." Thankfully, no turtle doves have turned up inside the house, and the mourning doves that used to visit the ground below the feeder in the yard seem to have moved on some time ago as well.

Twelfth Night traditionally is a time of merrymaking, and it marked the end of a festival that opened on All Hallow's Eve, a time known in Brittany as Toussaint, when the dead were able to mix with the living. On Twelfth Night, the world symbolically is turned upside-down, and the peasant is king, and the king is a pauper. The reversals within Shakespeare's play are indicative of the topsy-turvy nature of the holiday that is/was Twelfth Night.

When that I was and a little tiny boy
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas, to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still 'had drunken heads,
For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world began,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.

It was a pleasure to have company during the holidays, and it is a pleasure to have a modicum of quiet in the house now that they've gone to the airport for their flights home. I hope they have safe travels, and wish safe travels to the rest of you and yours as well, with a hey, ho, the wind and the rain.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 27th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
Happy Day TWO, too!
But when I came to read her post
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
Kelly kellied She is the most
For the rain it raineth every day.

on the second day of Christmas Kelly gave to thee.....
Dec. 27th, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Happy Day TWO, too!
Dec. 27th, 2007 11:11 pm (UTC)
I came home upon a train
And chased away the wind and rain.

(For now, at least.) Hey ho, it's good to be back!

Watch out for those French hens. It's the lords a-leaping that do the most damage, though. Especially when the drummers start a-drumming and the pipers get into the act--you should just see the living room afterwards.
Dec. 28th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure which would be worse, all the animal shit or all the people milling about. Because if the maids are a'milking, they necessarily come with cows.

There are quite a lot of old English traditions for Christmastide, and some of them are quite something. I've been finding them out as I research Jane's Christmas traditions, and will likely do a factual post about them this weekend because seriously, they're too good not to talk about.
Dec. 28th, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
I must admit that I'm looking forward to that quiet :) I'm glad you've found it!
Dec. 28th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
Well, it's all past tense now, of course, but still, it was nice while I had it. I even got an hour's worth of Jane work done!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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