22nd December 2022

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me, eight maids a milking …

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 24th November 1976 page 98.

The 12 days of Christmas begin on 25th December and end on the 5th (or 6th, depending  on where it is celebrated) of January. According to tradition, this marked a period starting with the birth of the Christ child, and ended with the Epiphany, the coming of the Wise Men. In England during the Middle Ages, “this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking” according to Wikipedia. Therefore the references on days 1 to 7 to birds used in feasting make sense. This day probably refers to the “milk, cream, cheese, and butter that were essential ingredients in English cooking during the early modern period.” (according to https://unireadinghistory.com/2019/12/20/twelve-days-of-christmas-eight-maids-a-milking/).

 Uniform button. Image found on a Google site, but couldn’t work out how to ask the owner for permission, sorry.

Museums Victoria collection. Children at St Brigid’s school, Fitzroy, in 1910 dressed as farmers and milk-maids.

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