I’ve always been fascinated with lists. Perhaps for that reason, one of my favorite silly Christmas songs is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Aside from the fact that it is really fun to sing, all those gifts make my imagination soar. I mean, I’m not quite sure what I’d do with “eleven ladies dancing,” but I sure would like it if someone gave them to me.
I’ve heard various rumors about this song. One states that it simply migrated down from French oral tradition, then an English chap named James Orchard Halliwell wrote it down in 1842 and published it in an edition of the Nursery Rhymes of England. Another claims that each gift represents a food or sport for each month throughout the year. Modern folklore has pointed to some evidence suggesting that during the 16th through 19th centuries, when Catholics were less than welcome in England, the song’s lyrics were written as a catechism to help children learn their faith. I fancy this explanation. Perhaps it’s the conspiracy theorist in me, but I love the idea that perhaps there are secret meanings buried within a song.
Either way, we’re not even quite to Christmas yet, let alone to the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” but I have goals this year of making the season last through to January 6th or Epiphany, this year, by celebrating, beginning on December 26th, which is Twelfth Night/Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day, the Twelve Days of Christmas. So, for a little history lesson and gift guide, let’s explore, for the next 12 days, shall we, the Twelve Days of Christmas.
One way to remember the Twelve Days of Christmas would to be to treat each of the twelve days as a sort of Advent calendar, or similar to the eight days of Hanukkah, where each child or family member receives a small gift. I doubt anyone in your life would care for pipers piping or drummers drumming, not to mention that since the mid-1980’s, the PNC Bank has kept a running tally each year of what these gifts would cost, cumulatively, and last year, it was $21,465.56. And that’s rented! But we can think of small gifts to represent each of the twelve gifts.
We’ll start today with a Partridge in a Pear Tree. My choice historical explanation indicates the Partridge in the Pear Tree represents Christ. It’s an adept explanation. Scripture often uses birds to portray spiritual messages, and the pear tree symbol is obvious — the cross. As a reminder of this, perhaps you’d like to read your little ones the traditional folk story of the Tale of Three Trees.
I’m not sure how many more times I can talk about my love for pears here, but a gift of a dozen Harry & David pears would be a healthful treat. Or perhaps your family might like to start a holiday tradition of planting a tree together, or something as simple as buying a small partridge ornament to add to your collection.
An obvious gift for everyone would be to perhaps make poached pears with ice cream for dessert, or any other favorite pear recipe. Pear chips, anyone? Perhaps a pear tart, with dough leaves, representing the tree. If you’re feeling flush, perhaps your lady would like a pear-shaped stone (a diamond, perhaps?).
Here’s a host of other pear and partridge related gifts if you need more ideas. Anyone have any others to share??
This pear terrarium is gorgeous. Gorgeous. As are these fruit jars from MOMA, for your kitchen. Anyone who takes their sweet tea to go would love this pear travel mug. Or maybe you’d like this pumpkin and pear card set for yourself?
What about a partridge in a pear tree stocking for your mantel? This pretty partridge in a pear tree necklace would be pretty, all year around. If you’ve got a traditionalist on your list, a crystal bell would be elegant and festive.
I would wear this partridge scarf through every season! How great is this simple partridge sculpture. I can just see it on a windowsill somewhere, basking in the warmth of a winter’s day. I’m obsessed with this strangely beautiful piece of art. A delicate locket. And just for fun, a Partridge Family album cover spiral notebook.