Our Christmases, hectic though they may be, are actually a doddle compared to the traditions of old. Medieval people celebrated all 12 days of Christmas, from December 25 through to Epiphany – the day the three kings turned up with gifts for the newborn Jesus – although they did not usually feast every day. Some households had their big feast on Christmas Day. For others it was the first of January or the 6th, depending on local custom.
"The Twelve days of Christmas" song was first published in 1780, without music. The tune we all know coming much later in 1909.
We have introduced 12 objects from our collections into Wakefield Museum's displays (please note, the museum is now closed until 9am on 5th January).
|'A partridge in a pear tree' - Partridge from natural history collection|
|"Two Turtle Doves" - Unmarked, Dunderdale stoneware teapot|
|"Four Collie Birds" - Blackbird from the Waterton Collection - the word 'collie' coming from collier, meaning black|
|"Five gold rings"- 500 year old ring with wording 'I'm all yours' in medieval French from Sandal Castle|
|"Six geese a-laying" - Painted wooden fan made with goose feathers|
|"Seven swans a-swimming" - Valentine card given to Frances Eliza Waddington c. 1880|
|"Eight maids a-milking" - Milk can produced 1910-15 with J.C.B. trade mark|
|"Nine ladies dancing" - Victorian lady's dance card and pencil made by Faber - dated 24th February 1876|
|"Ten lords a-leaping" - A ceramic bust of Lord Derby|
|"Eleven pipers piping" - Wooden pipe with metal ring top and bottom|
|"Twelve Drummers Drumming" - Tin drum used by Professor Stafford who taught Punch and Judy in the 1950s|