Marja-Leena Rathje
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the sixth day

Six Geese A-Laying, Illustration by Jan Brett on a Christmas card, from the book The Twelve Days of Christmas, published by Dodd, Mead & Co., NY

A little bit of whimsy, forgive me, as some ever so slight relief from the heavy hearts we feel over this week's immense tragedies....

A faint memory from childhood has been teasing me, an image of my mother saying that the Christmas tree should stay up until the twelfth day of Christmas. A search led to Wikipedia: "The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from December 26 to January 6, or the Epiphany, also called 'Twelfth Day', culminating that night in 'Twelfth Night'."** But, back then the tree was not put up until Christmas Eve. As adults now we usually put up ours about a week before Christmas, and many others put theirs up in the beginning of December. How traditions change!

So, according to the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas**, my true love shall be bringing me 'Six geese a-laying' !

** "An interesting fact about this song is that the total number of presents given (counting 12 partridges, 11*2 turtle doves...) is 364 which is 1 less than the number of days in a year."

Then this item jogged another memory from childhood of New Year's eves, though Finnish not German: "In Germany people would drop molten lead into cold water and try to tell the future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship a journey, and a pig plenty of food in the year ahead." I wonder if any Finns or Germans do this anymore today.

And so, friends, it is New Year's Eve on this sixth day of Christmas. Have a healthy and peaceful, creative and giving NEW YEAR 2005! Let us hope for relief, restoration of life's necessities and peace for all the needy in this world. (Ooh, my, I just realized that it is also six days since the earthquake and tsunami in Asia!)

UPDATED Jan.05.05 Just found out that Epiphany (Twelfth Day) is a national holiday in Finland. Now I understand why it was such a significant date for my mother!

Marja-Leena | 31/12/2004
themes: Culture, Folk Legends & Myths