For the last 12 days of Christmas, I will be posts to "break down" the Christmas Carol, "Twelve Days Of Christmas" by focusing on what each line is speaking of (Partridge, Turtle Doves, etc.) and their meanings and/or what they truly are. Just little facts and trivia things.
*HINT* ... Each day, the verse of choice will be BOLDED and highlighted.
On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.
Thank God!! No more birds. At least for the time being. I'm about ready to go grab the nearest hunting rifle and go out hunting those dad-burned birds.
From... On The Eighth Day Of Christmas site.
On the Eighth Day of Christmas...Eight Maids A-Milking
The eight maids a-milking addresses two of the major themes of fifteenth and sixteenth century English celebrations and parties during the Christmas holidays – food and romance. What is a feast or party without food? Especially foods that are not common and are reserved for special occasions.
Until the advent of refrigeration, milk was not a common drink because it spoiled quickly. However, milk based products that did not spoil, such as cheese, sour milk (which is actually a cultured milk much like yogurt
and is neither sour tasting nor spoiled) and custards were prized treats. Cheese and sour milk are the result of processes that expose milk to so called friendly bacteria which convert the milk to a state where it can be preserved for a longer period and is also tasty. Custard is similar but this involves the cooking of the milk, which kills the harmful bacteria thereby extending the period during which it can be safely consumed.
The maids, of course, refer to the women who would milk the cows to obtain the milk in the first place. In times past milking of cows or goats was typically a job for women. However, the term maid is also the shortened form of maiden which is a young, unmarried, woman. By combining the images of maiden and milk (which can also bring to mind a woman's breasts), it is easy to get the idea that this particular gift has more to do with sex and romance than with cows.
The term eight maids a-milking evokes images of the food, especially the special holiday foods, to be enjoyed at this festive time of year as well as the possibilities for romance, both licit and illicit. While the people of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were not as prudish as the nineteenth century Victorians, there was still pressure, especially for women, to maintain a somewhat chaste image in public.
Young upper class (both merchant class and nobility) women were usually chaperoned when in public and when being courted by young men. However, during the Twelfth Night celebrations not only were many of the rules of behavior relaxed but the environment in which the parties were held provided opportunities to escape the watchful eyes of the public.
In the midst of a large group of people, many of them strangers, who were busy drinking, dancing and having a good time, it was easy to slip away from one's chaperon or spouse. Masked and costumed balls increased the opportunities for secret liaisons as well as providing additional means of denying your actions the next day. With candles and torches the sole source of lighting, it was often difficult to identify people across the room let alone in the numerous rooms and darkened alcoves found in the castles and large manor houses where the parties were held. The opportunities offered for some passionate time alone with a lover or a quick one night stand with a stranger were a major attraction of these parties.
*Please feel free to read the rest of the history at the above link to the site provided in regards to this day's subject.*