25 December 2011

12 Days of Christmas ( TDoC ), part I

Weather: Some weather prognostications for each month in the coming year based themselves on the 12 Days of Christmas.  Others went by the weather on the first 12 days in January.  I keep track of both, which means that the weather on January 1 will be for August and January.  Don't ask me how.

The twelve days from Christmas to January 5th are said to be the key to the weather for the following twelve months.

So, 25 December being the first day of Christmas, the weather today foretells the weather of January.
26 December: February
27 December: March
etc., through the 5th of January which foretells the weather of next December.
[if you are one of those who starts the twelve days of Christmas on the 26th, adjust accordingly.]

It's a bit easier with basing the weather on the first twelve days of January: 1/1 = January, 1/2 = February, 1/3 = March, etc.
If it rains in the twelve days of Christmas, the coming year will also be wet.

If it rains much during the twelve days of Christmas, it will be a wet year.

Thunder during Christmas week indicates that there will be much snow during the winter.

If the days between Christmas and Epiphany are dark and foggy, there will be much sickness next year.

If the sun shines on the 1st day of Christmas, there will be abundance and much joy in the world.
If it shines on the 2nd day, then money will be easily come by.
On the 3rd day, there will be a great fight among poor men, but peace between rulers and powerful men.
On the 4th day, there will be a great loss of money.
On the 5th day, there shall be a great bloom of fruit that year.
On the 6th day, there will be much milk.
On the 7th day, there will be a good crop on the trees.
On the 8th day, then quicksilver will be easy to get. [I guess that was important]
On the 9th day, then God shall send a great baptism that year.
On the 10th day, then will the oceans and rivers have a great supply of fish.
On the 11th day, then will there be many deaths among men.
On the 12th day, men will be weak, and the earth will be quiet.
from a c1120 manuscript

A mince pie eaten in a different house on each night of the twelve days ensures twelve lucky months. [First you have to get yourself invited to twelve different houses each night for dinner or at least dessert and coffee, and then you have to make sure the hosts are serving a mince pie.  I think the one below is much easier]

As many mince pies as you eat in the twelve days of Christmas, you will have the same number of good months in the coming year.
Some people have asked me why I start the 12 Days of Christmas on Christmas Day itself, when 'everyone knows' that they start on the day after Christmas.

Well, no.  Only the English and those copying them know that they start on the day after Christmas.  And even they were not always sure.

I will lay before you all the circumstantial evidence, and you can decide for yourself.

When is the Octave of Christmas?  January 1st.  If 1 January is the eighth day, then when was the first day? (Go ahead, you can count on your fingers if needed)

An old bit of weather lore says: "The weather on the 2nd of January foretells the weather of September".  This, I think, is just part of the Twelve Days of Christmas prognostications above.  September, being the 9th month, corresponds to the ninth day of Christmas, and if that is on the 2nd of January, then on which date is the first day? (go ahead, you can use your fingers again)

The Saxon Kalendar says, "Five days after the first of January comes to us the baptismal time of our eternal lord, which the flourishing, great and noble people of Britain call Twelfth Day." On the other hand, in Sweden, Epiphany was also called Trettonde-dagen - 13th Day; in German it was Dreizehnde.  "The Epiphany, which is properly the thirteenth day from Christmas, and was so called by the Icelanders, Danes, and other northern nations, is named as among the Anglo-Saxons the Twelfth Day; and its octave is the Twentieth Day, 'der zwegeste tag', or the last day of Christmas."  In Sweden, the 13th of January - Saint Knut's Day - is the twentieth and last day of Christmas -
"Twentieth Day Knut
Driveth Yule out."
and if the 13th is the twentieth day of Christmas, then when was the first day? (You'll need fingers and toes for this exercise, but I'll help you out - it was the 25th of December.)

The author of Medii aevi kalendarium says that "The Eve or Vigil of the Epiphany, January 5, ought to be called, instead of the Epiphany itself, the Twelfth Day, according to the author of an ancient manuscript homily, "De Epiphania Domini n'ri Jhu Xristi": "Thys day is called the xii day; but in trewthe it is the xiij day of Cristemas; whiche day holy Cherche callethe the Epiphani..." 

But I think the most telling piece of evidence is a letter from King Edward VI's Lord of Misrule for 1552, who had been chosen to be 'king' for 'the twelve days'.  It is written to the King's Master of Revels and is dated:
"From Green ye second of January and ye IXth day of our rule."

Now, if he was the Lord or King of Misrule for the Twelve Days of Christmas, and the 2nd of January was the ninth day of his rule... when was the first day?  

Yep.  December 25th.  Christmas Day. 

However, Heaven forfend that I ask anyone to forgo their tradition, and if it is yours to count the TDoC starting from the day after Christmas, carry on.