Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas and other lost traditions

As much as I like the regular traditions, I have to say when I learn of things that could have been in the past or things from the past that have died away, I often wonder what life would be like with those things today (such as the thirteen month calendar, or the deci-clock {metric time} These things always struck me as making much more sense than the systems we have adopted and accepted as the norm, and while I know society will never see these developed where it's used on a massive scale, it's still interesting to play around with them and wonder what if....)

One of the things I contemplate how life today would be different is if we, as Americans, didn't allow the long held Christmas traditions of the past to die and fade away in the face of consumerism and the sprawling corporate mindset we've come to accept as the norm.

One of those traditions is the Twelve Days of Christmas. It's not some fanciful song somebody came up with a long time ago in a land far, far away...it was a way of LIFE for quite a long time. I always hear people say Christmas is only one day a year. NO, it's NOT, and why did we let this get away from us? Who is responsible for the death of the twelve days of Christmas??? I personally blame corporate America, who has forced things like "Black Friday" and "After Christmas" sales on us on the 26th and the emphasis of New Years Day on January 1st when, traditionally, it was viewed to be the first day of the new year on the first day of spring. Well, to be fair, New Year's Day has always been celebrated at different times in different cultures, but I am personally think celebrating it on the first day of Spring makes far more sense than some arbitrary day a culture chooses for whatever reason. (And to be clear...I don't blame corporate America for creating January 1st as the first day of the new year...I am familiar with the origins of that day being the new year in the Roman Empire. Just as sects of Christianity have changed the Christmas traditions, not corporations, but corporations don't help!)

But what happened to the Twelve Days of Christmas? Starting at sunset on December 25th and going through sunset on January 6th seems like a much more fun idea than one day a year. Or the Feast of St. Stephen? Or the Feast of the Innocents? Not in America, but these traditions are still held in many parts of the world, so that's why I blame the corporate mindset in America who seems to want to rush us along right into the next holiday (which is always a complaint every year when Christmas items go up in stores right after Halloween.)

I think it would be a better society if we still celebrated the Twelve Days of Christmas, and not leaving it in the hands of just a few to continue to enjoy while the rest of society rushes along in stress and turmoil that surrounds this season. Maybe if we had twelve days of gift giving people wouldn't be so stressed out right before Christmas. I mean, have you ever worked in retail at this time of year? Good customers become monsters around this time of year, and the amount of selfishness is unbearable. People become short tempered, frustrated, fly off the handle...all because they didn't get a freaking Wii or some other manufactured piece of crap somebody told them would make their lives better. It's pretty sickening, and in all of this we traded away twelve days for what? "Black Friday?" An "After-Christmas Sale?" "New Years?" Heck fire, I'd rather see New Year's celebrated in it's proper time on the first day of Spring and we get our twelve days back. The Jews have managed to keep their eight crazy nights, why have we given up our twelve? And to think I could be having an extra day off from work on the first day of spring??? Yeah, I am feeling I got the raw end of the deal around here somewhere, I don't know about you.

And I guess that's my Christmas message of this year. And in light of that, I plan on celebrating the twelve days of Christmas right here. You can expect to find a steady stream of great finds and good music for the next twelve days, right through Jan 6th. Screw corporate America telling me the 26th is "after Christmas." NO, IT IS NOT. This is just the beginning friends! Stack up the yule logs, stock up on the nog, and save some gifts for the next 11 nights...we have some CELEBRATING TO DO!

The first track I'd like to share has been around for a while and not rare in the blogosphere, but it's my favorite version of The Twelve Days of Christmas I have ever heard. I cannot get enough of this track. I must have listened to this thing twenty times in a row when I first heard it. It's not high in the professional polish (I don't think the lead singer is supposed to crack up laughing so hard during the song he can't sing!) but it's high in entertainment value.

Belle and Sebastian-The Twelve Days of Christmas

And for good measure, my second favorite version from the Chantons Noël. Ghosts of Christmas Past collection.

Winston Tong-Twelve Days of Christmas

And I'd like to give to you a couple gifts this first day of Christmas: two of my most favorite obscure tracks, two of the most unique Christmas songs I've added to my collection.

The first comes from a CD that was sold only for a limited time on the band's website and has been long out of print.

The Handsome Family-Stupid Bells

Finally, I have a very unique track from Brent Green and Califone. This comes from their video for the same song, which I found on My Space. (You will find more Christmas downloads on the Califone website, by the way...get them while they are here!)

Brent Green and Califone-Hadacol Christmas

And a bonus track for the special first day...a track that, while it does not seem exactly work safe--it does use the f' word when I really don't see it's necessary and that's a shame because this would be a fun track to put on my mix CDs to take into work otherwise--it does seem to say what I am trying to say here, but in a more humorous way.

Beans on Toast-Christmas at Tesco

Enjoy, and Merry First Day of Christmas!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, you may want to note that Brent Green's website is http://nervousfilms.com and Califone's site is http://pastrysharp.com. :)