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Monday, December 26, 2005

On the Second Day of Christmas...Two Turtle Doves
by Chuck

Christmas E-Cards

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

We have now reached the second day of Christmas. The lover has now given his true love a partridge in a pear tree and two turtle doves.

Partridges are game birds, similar to pheasants or grouse, that are hunted in Europe and the U.S. Partridge hunting has long been a popular sport among the gentry in England and it is not unusual to find it in this song. Pears are also a popular and common fruit in France and England. Some have speculated that the origins of The Twelve Days of Christmas carol are French and this would fit with both the partridge and pear tree. In fact one of the most popular variety of pears is the Anjou pear which appears to have originated near Angers in the Anjou region of France. This variety of pear was brought to England early in the nineteenth century and from there to America in the 1840s. According to some accounts, partridges were also introduced into England by the French, but this was in the seventeenth century. Game birds, such as partridges, pheasants, grouse, etc. would have been served at the holiday feasts hosted by various nobles and rich merchants in medieval England and France.

Doves are a common symbol for love and peace, two Christmas themes. Turtle doves are a common species of dove found in France and England and they were often kept in cages as pets during the Middle Ages and earlier. There are a number of references to doves in the Bible. Turtle doves also migrate to warmer climates in winter and their re-appearance heralds the approach of spring. The turtle dove is species that mates for life, so the giving of two turtle doves could be a way the lover is expressing his intention of love and marriage.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance England it was common to celebrate the full Christmas season with parties, feasts and the giving of gifts during the twelve days of Christmas. In this carol we see the giving of gifts, references to food that would be included in the feasts and the courting that surely went on as the coming together of large groups of people, especially young and single men and women, provided the perfect opportunity to seek one's future mate.

Copyright © by Charles J. Nugent Jr. and Victor L. Nugent.

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