It’s four days till Christmas (Eve!) and today I went out to get a few bits and pieces, thinking it would be a good day to go to avoid the crowds. Wrong! Honestly, everywhere was just stuffed with people and some of the things I wanted were just everyday items like butter and cheese! I mentioned before that I’m thinking of making game pie instead of having a roast bird, so I was keeping my open for anything suitable but was surprised and disappointed there wasn’t much in evidence. I suppose with me counting backwards to Christmas and thinking of the Twelve Days in reverse, today would be when my true love gives me four calling birds – or are they colly birds?
Thankfully the fashion for eating songbirds which I guess are calling birds, is now obsolete. It seems that the consensus is that the colly/calling birds in the rhyme are blackbirds, which is horrifying to us – but it must have been a thing, why else would four-and-twenty blackbirds have been baked in a pie for the king/queen? Maybe it was just the pie which was baked as the birds began to sing and then flew away – good for them! The idea of killing and cooking blackbirds is horrible, and their Latin name adds to the yuk-factor – turdus merula. The first part of the name means ‘thrush’, the beautiful sounding merula means blackbird. I might use it as a character in one of my stories, Merula, such a pretty name. When we were thinking of a name for our daughter, we liked Talisker, which of course is a whisky, but it’s such a lovely word (pretty lovely whisky too!) Daughter is very pleased we chose another name for her, even though it has nine letters, three of which are ‘e’!
Back to planning for Christmas – I’m dithering about making a Christmas pudding, there are several last-minute-pud recipes, but maybe I will make a dessert which we will al like, maybe something refreshing and citrussy, yes, I need to think about this!
Oh and one more thing, apparently, ‘colly is an old English word meaning ‘black’. You can still see it in the alternative word for a coal mine, a colliery’,
and, ‘collier – late 14c. collere ‘charcoal maker and seller,’ agent noun from Middle English col . They were notorious for cheating their customers. Meaning ‘digger in a coal mine’ is from 1590s. Sense of ‘coasting-vessel for hauling coal’ is from 1620s.