Friday, December 31, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas

The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6th), which is when the three wise men supposedly arrived on the scene. It is NOT the twelve days before Christmas as many erroneously believe. The lovely story following is now considered by the erudite amongst us as an Internet Urban Legend with no basis in fact. However, the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was first found in print in 1790, and was already traditional. Its origin seems to have been French as was the word "carol." Christmas Caroling was derived from the French word "caroller," which means dancing around in a circle. Joyous revelers at Christmastime danced in a circle around the creche, joyously singing Christmas carols. Such holiday celebrating was banned in England during the Protestant Cromwell reign and many of the oldest Christmas songs and their histories were forever lost.

An Underground Catechism 

(from “Drennon’s Twelve Days of Christmas”)

Most folks, I believe, are familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." If you listen to the words carefully, it seems like nonsence set to rhyme and music. However, it was written with a serious purpose. It is more than just a list of twelve silly gifts. Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic. [Note: Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.]

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song. Actually, the catecism to which it referred was rather ecumenical so could probably be claimed to be protestant if cornered.

The song's gifts had hidden meanings to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the church. The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

Here is a complete list of the 12 symbols with their meanings*

  • 1 Partridge in a pear tree = The One true God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ
  • 2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
  • 3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity
  • 4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
  • 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch which contain the law condemning us of our sins.
  • 6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
  • 7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith
  • 8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
  • 9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit
  • 10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
  • 11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
  • 12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

Monday, December 13, 2010

Folding Fitted Sheets

Back in my day, there was no such thing as a "fitted sheet" hence we grannies are grateful enough to treat these modern bed linens with the respect they deserve. And NO, it is not easier to roll both sheets up in a ball and stuff them inside one of the pillow cases!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NOVA Barbies

I found the following “Christmas Shopping” suggestions at an unnamed message board. This is an inside joke, meaning that one needs to understand the acronym NOVA to "get it." Translation: one must have some familiarity with the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC.
Reston Barbie:
This princess Barbie is sold only at The Reston Town Center in Chico’s. She comes with an assortment of Coach Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long haired foreign dog named Honey, and a “cookie cutter” $2,000,000.00 house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with “augmented” version.
Springfield Barbie:
This modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full time occupation or secondary education. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

Prince Georges County Barbie:
This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Pontiac with dark tinted windows and a crack pipe. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills). Unless you are a cop, then we don’t know what you are talking about.

Great Falls Barbie:
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and Scioto Country Club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won’t be able to afford any of them.

Fredericksburg Barbie:
This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken’s butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a Confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

Herndon Barbie:
This collagen injected, rhinoplastic Barbie wears a leopard print outfit and drinks cosmopolitans while entertaining friends. Percocet prescription available.
West Virginia Barbie:
This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of another Barbie’s house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home.
Falls Church Barbie:
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, archless feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her “Willow.” She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Clintonville Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.
SouthWest Barbie:
This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his ‘79 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.
Dupont Circle Barbie/Ken:
This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple “snap-on” parts.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Congressional Gold Medal for WASPS

Members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) received the Congressional Gold Medal for their service in World War II. The corps of female pilots was created in 1942 to fly military planes in the U.S. so that male military pilots were available for combat service and duties. The ceremony, which was held in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center, included the presentation of the colors and the singing of the national anthem.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Potomac River of 1634

The Potomac River

In early spring of 1634, when Father Andrew WHITE and the English colonists on the Ark and Dove sailed into the Potomac River, they were enthralled with the beauty of the “great stream” and its wooded shores. They named it Saint Gregory, in honor of the canonized Pope of that name. "Never have I beheld a larger or more beautiful river," wrote Father WHITE. "The Thames seems a mere rivulet in comparison with it; it is not disfigured by any swamps, but has firm land on each side. Fine groves of trees appear, not choked with briers or bushes or undergrowth, but growing at intervals as if planted by the hand of man, so that you can drive a four-horse carriage, wherever you choose, through the midst of the trees. Just at the mouth of the river we saw the natives in arms. That night fires blazed throughout the whole country, and since they had never seen so large a ship, messengers were sent in all directions, who reported that a canoe, like an island, had come with as many men as there were trees in the woods."

The image, Potomac River, was originally uploaded to the Internet by Edna Barney. It was posted here by Neddy of flickr.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Red Poppies In Memory

A Picture from Edna
We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem, cited above. She then conceived of wearing red poppies on Memorial day to honor those who died serving the nation during war. She sold poppies as a fundraiser to benefit needy veterans. When Madam Guerin, a visitor to the United States from France, learned of this new custom she began making artificial red poppies to raise money for French war orphans and widows. The Red Poppy tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell Red Poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948, the US Post Office honored Moina Michael for founding the National Poppy movement with a three cent postage stamp with her likeness upon it.

The image, Poppy at Lion House, was originally uploaded by Edna Barney. It is posted here from Barneykin's flickr account.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Understanding Baltimore Speak

Hiya Hons! Here's how to understand and talk BAWLAMERESE.
  • Bawlamer : American city north of Warsherton.
  • Amlance : Will take you to the horsepital.
  • Arn : Will press your pants.
  • Baffroom : Where the terlet is.
  • Blair Road : spelled "Belair Road."
  • Cammer : What you take pixtures wiff.
  • Chimbley : It's on top of the ruff.
  • Downer Shore : Chesapeake Bay.
  • Earl : an engine lubricant or Earl's name.
  • Farplace : Fireplace.
  • Formstone : A cement, stone-shaped rowhouse application.
  • Iggles : Eagles.
  • Orster : where you get perls.
  • Po-lice : They lock you up at the Station House.
  • Sem-lem : Any convenience store, such as 7-11.
  • Stoop : Marble steps in front of a Baltimore Row Home.
  • Tars : What your car rides on.
  • Par a Plars : Tool for removing nuts and bolts.
  • Youse All : All of you.
  • Zink - where you wash dirty dishes.
Baltimore, My Baltimore -- My Hometown.