holidaytraditions

TRADITIONS: Twelfth Night

TRADITIONS: Twelfth Night

King Pepin 12 Days image from 1780 book Mirth Without MischiefSome traditions are celebrated but the origins are unknown. Twelfth Night is one of them. It arrives on January 5th, twelve days after Christmas. Sound familiar?

Many know the Twelve Days of Christmas song which is believed to have been sung at a ball during King Pepin’s reign (752-768 AD); others give meaning to each line of the song or consider it to be a memory game with each person adding a something new to the song—think of the memory game “I am going on a picnic and I am going to bring ___________” with the next person adding his/her own item and then repeating the preceding ones in reverse order.

Meanings given to the song may include the numbers like in this paired list of biblical references:

  • A partridge in a pear tree: Jesus
  • Two turtle doves: The Old and New Testaments
  • Three French hens: Faith, hope, and love
  • Four calling birds: The Four Gospels
  • Five gold rings: The Torah/Pentateuch, 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: 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: Twelve points of the Apostles Creed

While Twelfth Night can be meaningful in many ways, its true meaning is a bit mottled. For my husband and me, it is a chance to quietly spend the last of the holiday season in celebratory fashion with dear friends.

For us, this year’s Twelfth Night will be a private, dinner celebration with close friends. Small gifts, often handmade, will be exchanged between individuals, and in our group they usually are simple and/or functional. For instance, I made leather covers for small composition booklets for each person. My husband forged icicle-shaped ice picks.

Whatever your traditions are, make your season merry and bright! From our home to yours, we send the absolute best wishes for Twelfth Night and the new year.

Wonderfully yours,

Alice

ENTERTAINING: Christmas High Tea

ENTERTAINING: Christmas High Tea

The holidays are a highlight of the year. Spending time with loved ones—both family and friends—is the epitome of mine. Christmas High Tea is a favourite where we don our holiday attire and gather to enjoy the wonder and beauty of the Christmas season. This year, though smaller, was no exception.

I suspect it is all about the food, especially the lamb, our children enjoy when they return home for this annual tradition; we have five children. For me, it is the togetherness/silliness that ensues that I love most. Each child and significant other arrive as their schedules permit. We dance and sing spending the few leading days before the event polishing silver, making all the dishes, and finalizing the décor. Tea day arrives and is abuzz with laying the trays, cutting the greenery, and retiring to our rooms to dress for the evening event which begins promptly at five o’clock. Then, guests begin arriving and have the chance to enjoy a social hour before tea is served at 6:30.

During the social hour, guests circulate amongst each other and I watch with wonder and pride as our grown children interact with poise and grace. Everyone is engaged. New friends meet the children for the first time and get seated at one of their tables. It is important to my husband John and me that each child have their own lives and circle of friends but get the opportunity to meet ours and host a table at Christmastime.

This year, our high tea was a more intimate group. It was a sign of the times. Though the group was smaller, the quantity of food did not waiver! The menu included many favourites and a few new additions—for instance, I like to create a new trifle flavour each year. As the attendees make their way to the tea buffet, they see the various Christmas decorations. The traditional tree is complete with childhood, handmade ornaments, plus many passed down through the years; it holds a commanding position in the Great Room where tea tables of four or six seats are draped and set. The dining room holds the buffet and has a 6-foot tree adorned with demitasse teacups, a dainty reminder of an era passed. This year, a teddy bear tree was added in honour of my mother Lady Anne. It glows with multi-coloured lights in the sitting room corner. Mother always preferred the coloured lights compared to my white ones.

This year is different. Quiet. It is just as special—in its own way.

John and I wish all of you the absolute best of the season and a very bright future. Treasure what you have. Share the love.

Wonderfully yours,

Alice