Another bird for the collection was gifted on day seven of the 12 days of Christmas…
For the past 6 days, we’ve been celebrating The 12 Days of Blogmas, exploring the gifts of true love that were received in the name of true love throughout The 12 Days of Christmas. This series has held a few surprises for me: who knew that so many of the gifts were actually birds? I hope the recipient had a large enough birdcage for their new partridge, turtle doves, french hens, calling birds, gold ring-necked pheasants, geese and swans that they received all in one week…
So a week after the gifts started arriving, the fabled true love of The 12 Days of Christmas sent seven swans. Being traditionally a Catholic Christmas carol, each gift carries religious symbolism. Within this interpretation, the seven swans a-swimming are a representation of the seven gifts of the holy spirit (Christmas is a time for giving, after all): wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
I want to talk a little about a different swan that we see at Christmas time: Swan Lake. The Russian Ballet was composed in the late 1800s by Tchaikovsky, who also famously penned The Nutcracker, another regular on the stage over Christmas. Swan Lake traditionally tells the story of a princess who is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer.
Like the interpretations of the gifts of true love from the carol, the production of Swan Lake has transformed throughout time, and the story has been reproduced across the globe. A notable re-working of Swan Lake is that of Matthew Bourne, whose reinvention of the ballet using male dancers has been touring the globe since 1995. Bourne has recently transformed the tale of Edward Scissorhands into a stunning contemporary ballet which is set to be as big a success as his Swan Lake. It’s on at Sadler’s Wells currently, and I would most definitely recommend it, having seen it last week.
Theatre outings are a tradition for many British families; cities big and small put on annual pantomime productions, and school halls up and down the country are filled with proud parents who pile in to watch their little stars act out the nativity. I myself once played one of Santa’s reindeer who somehow made their way into the traditional Mary, Joseph and Jesus story at my school.
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