Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas: Games, Crafts and Food To Do Together

There is something really fun and slightly nostalgic about the 12 days of Christmas. One of my early Christmas memories involves going to the Great American Melodrama with my family and, after seeing their famous Christmas Carol and Vaudeville Review, laughing my butt off with my family in the car as we drove home imitating the hilarious movements the cast put to The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Little Secret: We STILL do that! And it's still funny :)

Another fun memory involving the song: My mother found a vintage set of the cookie cutters and, being the sculpture she is, made clay ornaments with them. She made a set for each of us to paint and you could definitely tell who had painted what. My youngest brother wasn't quite old enough to keep his paint inside  the lines, so his ornaments were rather tie died whereas my other younger brother had an affinity for the odd at very young age so his ornaments were quite eclectic. The maid a milking had a green and purple cow, if i remember correctly :) Nothing was a realistic color. Mine, were done entirely in primary colors and green. Mom loved them all, like mom's do.

So it's not the biggest tradition in my family, but I'd like to somehow make another addition to it, keep the tradition going myself. I saw this post by The Craft Patch on Pinterest and I felt inspired to come up with something similar. Her idea is fun but I wanted to come up with something that maybe matched the song more (like doing the Ring Pop's on day five for FIIIIVE GOOOOLDEN RIIIINGS). And so that is what I set out to do!

I didn't quite understand how the rings worked on this as a kid and made them blue instead, oops!

The Twelve Days of Christmas
(a little background)

Now for some real factoids about the day, what little there are. Snopes has a really extensive article on the whole matter of whether or not the song was originally a code for Christians or a way to memorize Biblical information (sorry folks but it wasn't, its ok I was kinda bummed too since I was rather hoping for more details to supply me with ideas!). It was most likely a secular Christmas song.  

"What we do know is that the twelve days of Christmas in the song are the twelve days between the birth of Christ (Dec. 25th) and the coming of the Magi (Epiphany, Jan. 6)"

I'd put more but the site doesn't let me copy and paste :( and I am really tired so I am not in the mood to just type that entire paragraph while switching between tabs. justsayin. 

It's quite similar to the carol "The New Dial", which is rather obviously religious. I have the feeling the concept of this song got mixed in with the Twelve Days somewhere along the way. Have a peek:

What are they that are but one?
We have one God alone
In heaven above sits on His throne.

What are they which are but two?
Two testaments, the old and new,
We do acknowledge to be true.

What are they which are but three?
Three persons in the Trinity
Which make one God in unity.

What are they which are but four
Four sweet Evangelists there are,
Christ's birth, life, death which do declare.

What are they which are but five?
Five senses, like five kings, maintain
In every man a several reign.

What are they which are but six?
Six days to labor is not wrong,
For God himself did work so long.

What are they which are but seven?
Seven liberal arts hath God sent down
With divine skill man's soul to crown.

What are they which are but eight?
Eight Beatitudes are there given
Use them right and go to heaven.

What are they which are but nine?
Nine Muses, like the heaven's nine spheres,
With sacred tunes entice our ears.

What are they which are but ten?
Ten statutes God to Moses gave
Which, kept or broke, do spill or save.

What are they which are but eleven?
Eleven thousand virgins did partake
And suffered death for Jesus' sake.

What are they which are but twelve?
Twelve are attending on God's son;
Twelve make our creed. The Dial's done.

From this song, another counting song may have come. It's called Green Grow the Rushes, O. This link will take you to the lyrics, as well as some nifty commentary on what the lyrics may be referring to. Who knew this would be such a slippery slope into counting songs huh? So at least that was something to go off of!

The Brainstorming Stage!

Mainly, I like the idea of making the joy of Christmas last just a little bit longer than the big day, don't you? So I decided to use that in my grand plan. 

I also liked the concept of the counting games, minus the annoying repetition maybe. What if on each day we do something rather Sesame Street and come up with things that relate to that number. It could be a good learning tool game :) AND you can incorporate the religious aspects if you like, without suggesting that this is what they actually stand for in the song's lyrics, but that they did stand for that in other similar songs. I have always liked the idea of teaching my kids historical tidbits about holidays because how a holiday is now is not how it always has been. Things change and that's ok sometimes. 

Oh, and lets avoid giving candy everyday... crafts are good too. Or baking/cooking something neat. And story time sounded fun, love the idea of reading with the kiddos!

The Final Plan

So now that you know everything I took into consideration for this, what did I finally decide on? I thought I would come up with an idea (maybe more than one) that can be incorporated into the evening/day. But as far as the historical/storytime part? That, I feel, should be a personal household thing. So do whatever you like with that :) Watch a movie, read a book, etc. and then unwrap a "gift" with one of these fun activities inside like:

Day 1: A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Play "Pin the Partridge on the Pear Tree", Make a recipe with pears (we liked poached pears but they aren't kid friendly :P)

Day 2: Two Turtle Doves: Make/bake a "turtle" recipe together (like Chocolate Turtle Brownie Sundaes)

Day 3: Three French Hens: Make Brinner! Breakfast for dinner. (eggs is the connection here, that and my husband is a fan of brinner so he wanted that in there)

Day 4: Four Calling Birds: Call four people you care about and tell them you love them.

Day 5: Five Golden Rings: Have Ring Pops for treats, play a ring toss game, make a golden ring of caramel pull apart bread (YUM! great idea Where Its Green!)

Day 6: Six Geese a Laying: No Bake Peanut Butter Nests with oatmeal can be gluten free :)

Day 7: Seven Swans a Swimming: Make your own recipe for a tasty soup with seven ingredients.

Day 8: Eight Maids a Milking: Make your favorite milk shakes!

Day 9: Nine Ladies Dancing: Get down with your bad self! Pick nine songs together and do some dancing (to at least a few)

Day 10: Ten Lords a Leaping: Play some Leap Frog! Or have a contest to see who can jump the longest (my little brother would have loved this when we were kids!)

Day 11: Eleven Pipers Piping: Bust out the construction paper/cardboard tubes and make a flute (or upcycle some bottles to blow on)

Day 12: Twelve Drummers Drumming: Craft time again! Craft drums out of pots and pans, old cardboard containers, etc., make some Bread Sticks (drumstick inspired) for a snack.

What do you think? These are just ideas to get your creativity flowing and make for some more family time. If you're wondering why I am doing this post now and not after Christmas during the proper time frame, its because I like to be a little prepared for my holidays and this is a lot of shit to get together! Excuse my french (hen! hahahaha). And we will be traveling soon so I am trying to get ahead.

I am also thinking I don't have kids yet ;-) so for now I could have some adult beverages if I so desired. I saw a few ideas out there whilst googling ideas for this post. I want to try this one for sure, pretty creative.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree 
Ingredients: Absolut Pear, lemon juice, caramel syrup, apple juice and thyme

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