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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

25 Days of Christmas (Day 22)

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 tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
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.

The following is provided by Hub Pages ...

The ten lords a-leaping most likely refers to leaping dancers (called morris dancers) who performed leaping dances between courses at feasts. This type of wild and strenuous dancing probably evolved from more ancient war and fertility dances and would have been a popular form of entertainment for this type of function. Unlike the nine ladies dancing in the previous stanza where the dancers appear to have been guests dancing for enjoyment, these were professional dancers brought in to entertain the guests while they dined.

Morris dancing itself was a popular form of folk dancing in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and possibly earlier. Both King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I had professional morris dance troupes perform as part of the entertainment at feasts. Many parish church records from this period show both expenses for the purchase of costumes and the bells that the dancers wore while performing as well as income from the rental of the costumes to neighboring parishes.

While the royal court and other nobles would probably hire professional morris dance troupes to perform at social functions year round, local amateur groups seem to have done most of their performances in conjunction with annual May Day and other outdoor spring festivals. Morris dancing declined following the English Civil Wars of the mid-seventeenth century which brought Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans to power with their dislike and banning of any type of frivolity such as singing and dancing.

The twentieth century brought a revival of the morris and other folk dancing traditions in the UK and other parts of the world including the U.S. Today there are local morris dance troupes and competitions in the UK as well as other parts of the world.
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