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  • Writer's pictureSharon Krasny

Birds of a feather

Today is the fifth day of Christmas, December 29. Today's the heralded day of five golden rings held in great esteem of what the true love brought. PNC estimates the worth of the twelve days at $16,168.00; $945.00 used to purchase the five golden rings. However, why would the creator of the song suddenly switch from poultry to precious metals on Day 5 and back to poultry for two more days?

The tradition states that the five golden rings represent the code Catholics created to maintain the catechism of their youth during persecution years in England. The five books of the law of Moses, or the Torah, laid foundations for the awaited promise of deliverance from sin's sorrow. Yet that still doesn't explain the logical leap from calling birds to geese a laying.

When I lived overseas, this conversation came up with one of my British friends. Her answer came in the form of game birds. Pheasants have a golden ring around their necks separating their brilliantly colored heads from their more common barred back feathers. This makes sense as a logical procession lost over time. The line of gifts from a true love start small with a partridge and progressed to the largest land fowl of seven swans a swimming.

The swan is the delicacy of the queen and kept for special feasts. The queen herself owns all of the mute swans that are unmarked in Britain's open waters. This would then be the highest, most royal meal to feast upon for the celebration of the King of Kings. Up until 1998, the act of eating a swan was treasonous as the privilege of eating a swan belonged only to her majesty. A Welsh friend regaled me of a swan dinner she once saw. The swan's skinned form was arranged around the baked meat on the table complete with feathers, looking as if it was real swimming on the platter preserving the elegance as a centerpiece. But I digress. We were talking about pheasants.

A few people may declare the "Twelve Days of Christmas" as their favorite, but most children love to belt out the repeating verses to get the joy of being seasonally annoying. The fifth day is held long and hard for the emphasis to ring through the chorus. What is the call of these rings that sing in our ears? The call is to ground ourselves in a foundation of truth.

The fact remains, without questioning gaps in logic, or glitches in our understanding, we miss on the richness of knowledge that makes history fascinating. We miss the chance to shift our perspective, viewing the picture before us more holistically.

If each individual pledged to seek the truth hidden in the layers of public portrayal, we would have a society deeper and more invested in the richness of being a community with a timeless value.

For more information on the royal swans, see these sites:

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