Thursday, 24 November 2011

A partridge in a pear tree

I am one of those people who love Christmas. I'm not that keen on the commercial aspect and the hideous emphasis on consumerism resulting in mountains of packaging, paper and unnecessary waste. However I can't get enough of magic of Christmas traditions once December starts. Seriously when else would I even consider eating a mince pie or pickle onion. It's also the period of advent that I adore as opposed to the 12 Days of Christmas. The anticipation of Christmas is so much more exciting than the stress, mess and over eating of Christmas Day and I would sit through a million nativity plays instead of ever having to go back to work in the early days of the new year.

A Christmas tradition that I have followed for as long as I can remember is making my own Christmas cards. I really could not imagine buying cards and my mind automatically starts gathering inspiration in November. One of my favorite artistic skills that I learned at university is lino printing. I like the simplicity of the process and the balance of print and space. The focus required to cut the lino with the tools (mine are still sharp after 20 years) is so demanding that it is relaxing in its intensity: one slip and the design can be ruined or a small hole has been cut into your skin. There has not been a time yet when I haven't cut myself whilst cutting lino and these are no small scratches. 

The 12 days of Christmas has it's origins in religion as each of the twelve gifts are based on religious references. Apparently the first written record of the song is 1780 and that never reliable source Wikipedia has the following to say,

Regardless of the origin of this idea, a number of Christians give the following meanings to the gifts:[17]
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" as a Catechism Song
Gift Interpretation
A partridge in a pear tree Jesus
Two turtle doves The Old and New Testaments
Three French hens The three theological virtues faith, hope and love
Four calling [sic] birds The four Gospels
Five gold rings The Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament
Six geese a-laying The six days of Creation
Seven swans a-swimming Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
Eight maids a-milking The eight Beatitudes
Nine ladies dancing Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
Ten lords a-leaping The Ten Commandments
Eleven pipers piping The eleven faithful Apostles
Twelve drummers drumming The twelve points of the Apostles' Creed

So here are the results of my research, inspiration, blood, sweat and fortunately no tears so far.

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