Thursday, December 27, 2007

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.

"The Rain it Raineth Every Day, one of Feste's songs:

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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