Dec 102011

Christmas is not a just day.  Instead, it is a 12 day celebration that begins (in some traditions) on December 25th and continues for 12 days (until January 6th).  As a reminder, we have the 12 Days of Christmas carol. 

Many have suggested that this carol is, in reality, a catechism — that is, a learning device in which each of the gifts represents a gift from God:  a partridge in a pear tree = Jesus; two turtle doves = the Old and New Testaments; an so forth.  Such an interpretation, as intriguing and useful as that may be in some settings, has little relationship to the song in its original setting.  Sometimes “three French hens” are just chickens.

For each of the 12 days of Christmas, I will be posting one event / person from genealogical research that relates (sometimes in a rather convoluted way)  to the particular gift of that day in The 12 Days of Christmas. Although the 1st day of Christmas is actually Christmas day itself, I will start my posts on December 26. (I plan on being with my 5 & 7 year old grandkids on Christmas day.)  I invite you to join me. Here is my outline of the 12 Genealogy Days of Christmas.

Dec. 26 – Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge belongs to “a non-migratory Old World group.”
When your ancestors come to this country (that is, the country in which you now reside) who did they leave behind?   Also, Who did they travel with? and/or  Who did they come to join? (Who proceded them?)

Dec. 27 – Two Turtle Doves
Turtle doves are “migratory birds whose population in Europe has allen by 62% in recent times due to changed farming practices.”   Who is your most recent direct line ancestor to have immigrated to your current country?  Why did they come?  Was it for economic reasons or for adventure or to avoid something back in their country of origin?

Dec. 28 – Three French Hens
French hens were just domesticated chickens.    Where does your genealogy have French connections?  Who migrated into France?  or from France to elsewhere?  Did any of your immigrant ancestors sail from France?

Dec. 29 – Four Collie Birds
No! Not “calling” birds (whatever they might be).  The original lyrics of this carol has “collie birds” which were simply blackbirds.   Perhaps you remember the Beatles song, Blackbird:  “Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these broken wing and learn to fly / All your life / you were only waiting for this moment to arise.”   Paul McCartney writes: “Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope. “  Who among your ancestors has taken “broken wings and learn[ed] to fly?  or Who has cared pasionately enough to do something about those who are learning to fly with broken wings?

Dec. 30 – Five Golden Rings.
We immediately think of jewelry, but the original intent of the song was to continue the focus on birds.  Therefore we have golden ring-neck pheasants in this days gift.  Pheasants have been called a very distinctive and colorful species.  Today, post a photo of a well-dressed, distinctive, colorful ancestor.  (Yes, black and white, or sepia photo are very acceptable.  Color can be more a matter of mind than of vision.

Dec. 31 – Six Geese A-Laying
Symbolically, eggs represent renewal of life.    Who among your ancestors had the largest family?  How many of the children lived into adulthood?  Share a picture if you have one.

(Due to length, I will contue this in a second post.)

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