The holidays are in full swing at Wren & Willow, and being the history buffs we are, we could not help but wonder about the origin of one of our favorite Christmas carols, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." (Click here to listen to that classic carol.)
In 1780 England, the lyrics were originally published as a memory-and-forfeit game in the children's book, Mirth Without Mischief. Children would be tested to recite the song lyrics in order, but if a mistake was made, a forfeit would be paid to their opponent in the form of a kiss or small sweet. However, it was not until 1909 that Frederic Austin, an English composer, arranged the melody we all know today. Despite the publication and composer both being English, our research led us to believe that the lyrics of this carol may have French origin. This piqued our interest into the history of Christmas traditions around the world and how they celebrate this time of year.
In England, children sometimes leave mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas instead of milk and cookies, and they get small toys by pulling on the ends of Christmas Crackers, like the crackers shown above. Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas by feasting on leftovers with family and friends.
Advent plays a huge role in the Christmas celebration in Germany, specifically through advent calendars. Germany is also where Christmas trees originated. Traditionally, the tree was secretly decorated by the mother to surprise her children. Like other countries, they feast on traditional foods of their culture like Stollen, a homemade sweet bread filled with nuts, spices, and dried fruits.
In Norway, Christmas Eve is the main evening for celebration. It is most common for a lavish dinner to be shared with family and friends serving classic Norwegian foods, like Krumkake, Lefse, and Rosettes. After dinner, gifts are exchanged and families enjoy each other's company.
At midnight on Christmas Eve, the sky in Peru explodes with fireworks to celebrate La Noche Buena. After families are finished setting off fireworks, they gather in the dining room for a full turkey dinner. After dinner, the family opens gifts, drinks hot cocoa, and phones other family members around the country. Christmas Day is spent recovering from the long night!
In Russia, New Year's Day is a much bigger celebration than Christmas. However, families still celebrate by decorating a tree, giving gifts, and spending time with their relatives and friends. Similar to Christmas Day, on New Year's Eve, children wait for Grandfather Frost to bring them presents. Did you happen to notice the photo of Grandfather Frost with his snowflake staff, long white beard, and bag of gifts? Hint: Scroll back up!
If you were to count out how many gifts were given on each day of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," you would find that the true love gave 364. That was quite a Christmas present! Just for fun, we had our estimator crunch out numbers to find out how much it would cost to purchase twelve days of Christmas gifts today...
A Partridge in a Pear Tree- $220 x 12 Days: $2,640
Two Turtle Doves- $375 x 11 Days: $4,125
Three French Hens- $181 x 10 Days: $1,810
Four Calling Birds- $600 x 9 Days: $5,400
Five Golden Rings- $750 x 8 Days: $6,000
Six Geese A-Laying- $390 x 7 Days: $2,730
Seven Swans A-Swimming- $13,125 x 6 Days: $78,750
Eight Maids A-Milking- $58 x 5 Days: $290
Nine Ladies Dancing- $7,553 x 4 Days: $30,212
Ten Lords A-Leaping- $10,000 x 3 Days: $30,000
Eleven Pipers Piping- $2,804 x 2 Days: $5,608
Twelve Drummers Drumming- $3,038 x 1 Day: $3,038
Grand Total - $170,603
The tradition continues...Our Ruston Police Department work very hard to protect and serve the City of Ruston. Each year, we enjoy giving them a tower of boxes filled with sweets and treats to eat during the twelve days leading up to Christmas Day. We love having a way to give back to our local police by letting them know how much their watchful eyes mean to us.
Gingerbread Men by Mike Archer & Jim Kendall
1/2 C. Molasses
1/4 C. Sugar 3 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Milk
2 C. Flour 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda 1/2 tsp. Salt 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon 1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves 1/2 tsp. Powdered Ginger
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. Butter cookie sheets. Heat the molasses to a boiling point, then add the sugar, butter, and milk. Mix the flour with the baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Add to the first mixture and blend well. Add a few Tbsp. of water, enough so the dough holds together and handles easily. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into gingerbread men using cookie cutters. Bake for 5-7 minutes. When cool, frost and decorate if desired.
In a beautiful wooden bowl with stag head handles, we have Twelve Days of Christmas cheer for this month's giveaway. There is even a treat for the four-legged family member. Traditionally, the twelve days of Christmas began on Christmas Day and continued until January 5th. But, we understand if you start a day or two early. Don't worry, we won't tell, Santa!
This giveaway has now ended. Subscribe to our newsletter to be updated on future giveaways.
Merry Christmas from our family to your family!