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PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE; HISTORY OF DAY 323


Monday, December 06, 2010

What a silly song, a partridge in a pear tree. Last week, at a luncheon, I heard about this song actually being created in the 1500's for the Catholics in England, (who were banned at the time) to teach their young children about the bible. The Partridge is actually Jesus Christ, Two Turtle Doves are the Old and New Testaments and so on. You can get the rest of this information online by googling the song. On the other hand, I found a great website that disected the song and compared it's meaning to social and sexual events in those days. A lot more interesting. So if you want to read more, try this link hubpages.com/hub/On_the_First_
Day_of_Christmas. Very interesting!

I also read this week about the use of the words "God Bless You" when someone sneezes. This came from the middle ages as well where it was thought that when you sneezed, your soul briefly left your body. So people would say God Bless to keep the devil from snatching it. There are a lot more sayings that we have that came from way back when. I should write them down when I hear them as I forget. For instance, the nursery rhyme, "Ring around a rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down." is supposed to be a tune about smallpox and it's debilitating results. The posies kept the smell of dead people away.

I'm going to ask Kaseycoff to chime in here as she probably knows all this stuff, living in England like she does. A lot of this stuff originated from England. Spend a penny meant going to the toilet as British restrooms required a penny deposited in the door slot for you to use it.

We finally got our tree up yesterday and what a fiasco. We have a pre-lit Martha Stewart tree that revolves. When we took the tree out of the box, we could only find half the legs of the revolving tree stand. We assumed the other 2 were lost as we could not find them in the box or the tree. After running around town, hubby brought home a regular tree stand so the tree has lights but it doesn't revolve. I love that part of it to see all the ornaments. In the meantime, the plug of the stand broke off so we couldn't use it at all. Then this morning, hubby comes in with 2 legs of the tree stand he found in the bottom of the box while putting it in the trash. Now we can't find the other two legs so either they got thrown out, put in a safe place, or those were the ones we threw out. I can buy a new stand for $30 on Amazon but will it fit? I'll keep looking as I love the revolving part. And new pre-lit trees are $150 or more. We bought this one on sale one year for about $50 8 or 9 years ago. I'll never have a tree that isn't pre-lit. So handy, just plug in.

Went to a party last night and blew WW but back on today. Interesting to see how it goes tomorrow with weigh in after 2 parties. The next party is Thursday night and it will be more balanced I hope. Later.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
PRAIRIECROCUS 12/7/2010 3:44AM

    Happy Holidays !

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4DOGNIGHT 12/6/2010 12:17PM

    Thanks Kaseycoff, I knew you would have answers. And Ring around the Rosy is probably the plague and not smallpox although either disease could qualify.

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KASEYCOFF 12/6/2010 12:11PM

    You know I can't resist an invitation, Carol, lol...

The Twelve Days of Christmas: I never heard the story about the symbolism. Years ago, when I studied French, I was told that the song is actually French in origin, and that it's a cumulative song, a kind of memory game, much like 'Alouette' or 'There was an old lady who swallowed a fly' - you know, where each verse builds on the last one and adds something new, with the trick being to remember all of them by the end of the song.

Snopes.com is a website that 'debunks' myths. They have an article about The Twelve Days of Christmas:

http://www.snopes
.com/holidays/christmas/music/1
2days.asp

Basically, what they're saying makes sense to me. Charming idea, and it's fun to relate the elements of the song to various Christian ideas, such as the Trinity and so on, but... nah, 'fraid not. At least, I don't believe it, but to each his own.

Wikipedia says "A bit of modern folklore claims that the song's lyrics were written as a 'catechism song' to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practicing Catholicism was discouraged in England (1558 until 1829). There is no substantive primary evidence supporting this claim, and no evidence that the claim is historical, or 'anything but a fanciful modern day speculation.'" While I don't always take Wikipedia as gospel (no pun intended!) I think they're probably on the mark here. One interesting concept they raise is that each of the twelve days / gifts may have originally correlated with the twelve months of the year, and could have signified some kind of 'prediction' for prosperity in the coming year. But your guess is as good as mine. :-)

Ring Around the Rosy: I hadn't heard the story about smallpox. The story I heard is that it relates to the bubonic plague epidemic - the 'Black Death' - in the Middle Ages. The 'ring around the rosy' is the initial site where the bubo, the plague boil, begins to arise on the skin. The 'pocketful of posies' (posies being flowers, thoough in England, a 'posy' is actually the small bouquet of flowers) is taken to mean either the scent of flowers to help mask the smell of sickness and death, or possibly the flowers thrown into the graves of the dead. 'Ashes, ashes' is sometimes said to be a corruption of 'Atchoo,' or a similar sound of sneezing, since that's one way in which the plague was spread. Some stories say the 'ashes' recognize the fact that often the plague killed entire families, and the house - with everything in it - would be burned to the ground, since no one would live there after it had been infested with plague. (No bodies were burned in the medieval age, and in fact, generally not until relatively recently in history, so it wouldn't refer to cremations.) And of course, 'we all fall down' when we die of the plague - and it's historically accurate that people would feel fine at breakfast, complain of a headache or feeling ill at midday, and before supper would be dead.

There are a couple sites on the 'net that have information about the rhyme - and no, it apparently doesn't refer to anything historical, epidemics or otherwise. Snopes had the best distillation of facts:

http://www.snopes.com
/language/literary/rosie.asp>
Since the rhyme has no reference in print - not so much as a mention in someone's diary, or memoirs, or letters - until 1881, it's not likely it's anything but a rhyme for some kind of children's dance or game. Same kind of derivation that many jump-rope rhymes had. A television show here called QI - a kind of quiz show - had a segment about this rhyme a couple years ago, and also cited the sources that show the rhyme is much newer than it was once thought to be.

Apparently nobody knows where 'God bless you' started - it was recorded in Roman times as a response to sneezing, so... who knows why they said it? But it's old enough, and been mentioned often enough, and has been recorded in so many different cultures, through the centuries that any explanation (saving your soul from escaping, wishing you good health) is as good as another. And these days, of course, it's a courtesy, so if you want to be polite, you can always say 'Bless you' to a sneezer.

Spend a penny is exactly as you say! It's a genuine Britism I'd never heard before I came here, and the first time I heard it I had no idea what they meant. Spending a penny always meant 'penny gumball machine' to me - big difference, lol... Another of my favorites here is 'I'll be mother' or 'Shall I be mother?' which is what someone at the table will say when the teapot - or these days, coffeepot, as like as not - arrives. Even men will say 'Shall I be mother?' and serve everyone a cuppa, tho it's always acknowledged as a joke when a man does the pouring.

Comment edited on: 12/6/2010 12:12:29 PM

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DONNAEDA 12/6/2010 9:26AM

    Wow, I bet your household was in a dither with the tree and all. If you hadn't been on WW would you have eaten more than you did? I bet you did better than you think. Happy holidays

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