How would you like to receive 364 gifts, during a span of less than two weeks?
If we believe the popular, tuneful Christmas carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” we ought to be gifted many times over.
Let me explain:
“My true love” doesn’t simply send a single partridge in a pear tree, but 12 of them. Remember, on the second day of Christmas, the true love sends two turtle doves plus a partridge in a pear tree, to keep company with the partridge the Postal Service dropped off the day before.
The bird is the last thing on the list each day, and each refrain ends with another partridge. The penultimate items, two turtle doves, get shipped by FedEx on the second through the 12th days; the five gold rings arrive eight times, on the fifth day through the 12th, for a total of 40.
In short, that’s a long list — 364 — almost enough to last all year.
Someone with lots of time on his hands came up with the grand totals.
Twelve drummers drumming
Twenty-two pipers piping (11 pipers delivered to your home twice)
Thirty lords a-leaping (10 x 3)
Thirty-six ladies dancing
Forty maids a-milking
Forty-two swans a-swimming
Forty-two geese a-laying
Forty gold rings
Thirty-six calling birds
Thirty French hens
Twenty-two turtle doves and
Twelve partridges in 12 pear trees.
Contrary to what some people believe, the 12 days of Christmas, begin after Christmas, not before. The span is from Christmas Day to Jan. 5, or the celebration of the Epiphany.
We hope nobody ever received the literal gifts from a true love. Small partridges are fine — even 12 of them — but how does a person manage 40 bovines accustomed to daily milking — or even one?
And 42 swans a-swimming aren’t my idea of good times, a swan being looser than a goose.
Some inveterate researchers have come up with various interpretations of the gifts, including regarding the song as largely symbolic. That is, it’s not literally a partridge the UPS guy has you sign for, but the symbolism of a one God.
The two turtle doves might represent the Old and New Testaments; the three French hens could stand for faith, hope and charity, and the four calling birds might stand for the four gospels.
Some posit that the five golden rings indicate the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible; six geese a-laying symbolize the six days of creation; the seven swans a-swimming refer to the seven sacraments, etc.
Rather than investing too much thought into the song, is it possible it’s merely a mnemonic device, something to help children memorize an easy-to-follow ditty? Virtually any church-goer knows all the words to the Lord’s Prayer, for example, if only through mere repetition.
• • •
In March 2007, this column got considerable input on “You Know You’re from Las Vegas if . . .”
One of entries read, “You know you’re from Las Vegas if you were threatened constantly with, ‘La Llorona is going to hear you if you don’t stop crying.’“ Another read, “You know you’re from Las Vegas if you believed you’d receive $50 for referring a patient to ‘El Asilo,’“ the institution that is now the Behavioral Health Institute.
Or, “You know you’re from Las Vegas if the question, ‘red or green?’ makes you think not of chile but of cross-town school rivalries.”
One of my favorites is, “You know you’re from Las Vegas if you begin every sentence in English and end it in Spanish, que no?”
But the one that really generated the e-mails and phone calls, with people suddenly remembering the old days, dealt with the belief of every parent that “Aceite Mexicano,” a kerosene-like solution, was a cure-all. Just have Mom rub the odiferous solution on any spot that hurts and you’re cured.
Several people were able to identify with the regimen of having the liquid applied, and some people even took a watered-down version of the potion orally.
I believe that these various “You knows” typify Las Vegas accurately.
And that’s why I’m proposing a tailor-made “12 Days” rendition for Las Vegas. Readers are free to criticize, contribute or supply their own version.
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
12 Panzas llenas
11 Beauty pageants
10 Council meetings
9 Nat Gold plays
8 Vegas Bowls
6 Cycle rallies
5 ‘Light parades
4 People’s Faires
3 H.U. concerts
2 School districts
. . . and a speech filled with “Obamanos”
• • •
Try though I may, I could not squeeze in references to the Stopulation Explosion on Seventh Street because that would have extended things to 12 weeks, not just days.
Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.