30 December 2008

The Yule Days

This Scottish equivalent of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is from Popular Rhymes of Scotland by Robert Chambers (1870 version, though I would think the rhyme is much older than that). I’ve often thought that both songs could have served as a challenge in how well Christmas/ Yule revellers could carry their drink – especially as most people can’t even get the Twelve Days of Christmas straight when sober…

The king sent his lady on the first Yule Day
A papingo-aye*.
Who learns my carol and carries it away?

So far so easy. But by the end of the song, we’re up to

The king sent his lady on the thirteenth Yule Day
Three stalks o’ merry corn, three maids a-merry dancing,
Three hinds a-merry hunting, an Arabian baboon**,
Three swans a-merry swimming,
Three ducks a-merry laying, a bull that was brown,
Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was gray,
Three plovers, three partridges, a papingo-aye.
Who learns my carol and carries it away?

*a parrot (as you do)

** don’t ask

And a Happy New Year to all our readers…


Jilly said...

Makes a change from the traditional one! Why only one Arabian baboon I wonder? Except of course that it fits with the numbers and the rhyme.
Happy New Year to you too!

NAM said...

Yes, I wondered why only one - more exotic/expensive, too, I guess. The available retail facilities clearly consist of more than just the local branch of Morrisons...

Here's wishing us all an especially good 2009!