Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Partridge in a pear tree and Christmas Trees

One of the stories that emerges in email every Christmas is 

"From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember. -The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ."

Whilst I think is that there is some truth in that story regarding the Christian meaning behind the song but the implication that it emerged as a tool for the Roman Catholic "underground" church is nonsense. They may well have sung the song but I think Protestants would have as well. These two sites discuss some aspects of the song in detail
The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas

The French for partridge is "perdrix" which is pronounced "pear dree". So the song is French or even comes from Greek. So it appears to have been around for a long time and in transferring between languages to have been become slightly confused.

I learnt the song when I was a kid and it was/is very popular at Christmas in England.

Now why would the English have so much love for a song that was used by Catholics in secret.

Nothing about it is particularly Catholic - I do not see the Pope or Mary mentioned - the principles it expounds appear to be Protestant beliefs. Perhaps it is really a Protestant song enforcing their Faith.


Also I am amazed at the "veneration" Christians give to the Christmas Tree.
Here is Wiki on possible pagan origins for the European usage of the Tree
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Now I like Christmas Trees but are they really anything to do with Jesus. Just part of our cultural traditions. Of course now they mean Christmas and so it brings people around to thoughts of the Lord so that is good.

I do like Christmas. Total strangers will say "Merry Christmas". My brain tells me that 25 December is not when Jesus was born BUT my heart says He would love the Love that appears at this time of the year. The reason for the season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taj Mahal is now in Bangladesh

Ah you thought it was in India

India irritated by Taj Mahal copy | The Daily Telegraph

INDIA'S embassy in Bangladesh has voiced its displeasure over a life-size copy of the Taj Mahal, saying it would investigate to see if any copyright laws had been breached.

"You can't just go and copy historical monuments," a spokesman at the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said.

"Someone will go out there and have a look. The reports we are reading say it is an exact replica. This is a protected site we are talking about so we need to find out if it really is the exact size.

Bangladeshi film director Ahsanullah Moni unveiled his $US58 million ($A88.35 million) replica, located about 30km north-east of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, this week.

Mr Moni began building it five years ago but came up with the idea in 1980 when he first visited the real "Monument to Love" in Agra, India.

He imported marble and granite from Italy, diamonds from Belgium and used 160kg of bronze for the dome.

"Everyone dreams about seeing the Taj Mahal but very few Bangladeshis can make the trip because it's too expensive for them," he said.

The Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


2 Cups water
2.5 Cups sugar
1 Cup butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Level teaspoon bicarb/soda

Boil all the above for 5 minutes in large saucepan.
Allow to cool, then:-

3 Cups self raising flour
4 Beaten eggs
Mix well, pour into 31 x 25 cm. baking dish lined
with alfoil.
Bake 350 - 400 degrees fahrenheit for
35 - 40 minutes or until cooked.
Ice with chocolate icing

4.5 oz. icing sugar
1 tbsp. melted butter
1 tbsp. cocoa
2 tbsps. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla essence

Put the icing sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and butter in a
mixing bowl.
Gradually add the milk, and stir
until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sweeney Todd: The Real Story of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I just read
Peter Haining - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
book on Sweeney

I just do not know when I first heard of Sweeney Todd. There was also Maria Marten and the Red Barn. Melodramas from Victorian times that were supposed to be fact!
I am sure my parents would have understood Sweeney to be real. The famous police force the Scotland Yard Flying Squad is known as the Sweeney. Todd rhymes with Squad. In London rhyming slang you drop the rhyming word. Aussies says Captain Cook for a "look" Londoners say Butcher's (hook assumed).

I was never sure when Sweeney was supposed to have been running his barber shop - I supposed early 19th century. Well Peter tells me 1785. And that he was born 1756 and has a complete life story leading up to the murders and how the Bow Street runners responding to complaints about foul smells from St Dunstan's investigate and find out it is due to all the all the bodies.
Peter has a number killed like 160 - due to all the clothes found. But Sweeney is only charged with killing someone called Thornhill. And in the trial a doctor identifies Thornhill's bone - due to some breakage that the doctor treated and the way it has healed. The whole case against Sweeney in Peter's "research" sounds very vague and it sounds like a good defence would have squashed it.

Trouble is Peter never gives sources for his findings. Except he quotes a paragraph or so found in material from a Broadway play in 1940s. Hardly an actual source.

Peter starts the book with a coverage of legends from Middle Ages time frame about "demon barbers" and human flesh eating murderers - some in France and one called Swaney Bane in Scotland. How strange that Peter tells us the story is a legend and then treats the 1785 events as genuine history.

Wiki article is quite clear Sweeney was fiction
Sweeney Todd - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  I just checked the 17/19th century newspapers at Australia National Library eResources - List item and not hit on Sweeney until 1852 when Llyod's weekly has the "string of pearls" story as a serial. Which Peter tells about in his book. He has an excellent coverage of Penny Dreadful writers and all the books and plays about Sweeney.  Peter Haining - Wikipedia whilst disparaging his work on Sweeney does acknowledge his research into literature and Sherlock Holmes.   Very strange that he should produce a book with so much research and resource quotes. without any resources for the his main story the actual existence of Sweeney  Todd.