Day 12 of 12 Days of Christmas: Twelve drummers drumming

Stamina is the force that drives the drumming; it’s not really a sprint. – Neil Peart

Drums all have their own particulars – each drum has a place where they sound the best – where they ring out and resonate the best, and the head surface isn’t too loose or too tight, mainly so you get a good rebound off of the head. —  Chad Smith



Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, 5 January. We have reached the end of the Christmas festival, and tomorrow we celebrate the Epiphany.
     The Twelfth Night parties in the middle ages could be quite rowdy. It was the Feast of Fools in which the order of the world was turned upside down, with fools reigning as kings and people taking on roles that were contrary to their true character. Shakespeare used this night as the setting for his play, Twelfth Night, in which he gives us a picture of such a topsy-turvy world as Viola masquerades as a man, people fall in love across class lines, and the lowly indulge in ridiculous delusions of grandeur.
     It would be foolhardy to deny the Christian significance of all this. By the time the Wise Men arrive in Bethlehem, the Holy Family is living in neither a stable nor in an inn, but in a house. They find the King they have been searching for, but he is not living in a palace. The mediaeval Feast of Fools reminds us that Christmas celebrates nothing less than a world turned upside down in which God becomes man in order that man might become divine.
     The Twelfth Day of Christmas is 5 January, and our celebrations of Christmas traditionally end tonight, on the Twelfth Night, which is then followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. The Twelve Days of Christmas are a festive period linking together these two Great Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany, so that one celebration leads into another.— Patrick Comerford


Prices in the service economy also jumped in 2022, reflected in the cost of the performance-based gifts at the back half of True Love’s shopping list. Wage and labor cost growth drove prices higher for the Nine Ladies Dancing ($8,308.12), Eleven Pipers Piping ($3,021.40) and Twelve Drummers Drumming ($3,266.93.) The Ten Lords-a-Leaping – priced on the cost of hiring a ballet company – grew an astounding 24 percent year over year to $13,980, supplanting the swans as the most expensive single gift in the index. — PNC, full article:–soars-for-true-loves.html


Some historians think the song could be French in origin, but most agree it was designed as a “memory and forfeits” game, in which singers tested their recall of the lyrics and had to award their opponents a “forfeit” — a kiss or a favor of some kind — if they made a mistake. —, full article:

Twelve Drummers The Newman Center at Keene State College

The twelve drummers drumming stand for the twelve doctrinal points of the Apostles’ Creed, which are:

1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.

6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,

9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,

10. the forgiveness of sins,

11. the resurrection of the body,

12. and the life everlasting.


Beat! Beat! Drums!Walt Whitman

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!

Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,

Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,

Into the school where the scholar is studying,

Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,

Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,

So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!

Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;

Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,

No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?

Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?

Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?

Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!

Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,

Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,

Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,

Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,

Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,

So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.


The Drum Major of the Freedom Parade — Margaret Burroughs

(For all children who wondered about the tragic event of April 4, 1968 at Memphis.)

My children, my children, remember the day

When the Drum Major of Freedom’s parade went away.

Stop crying now little children and listen

And you will know for the future what really did happen. 

You will know why your father was solemn and grim

And why mother’s eyes were wet at the rim.

You will know why the flags flew at half mast

And why all the buildings were shut tight and fast. 

The Drum Major was down in Memphis that day

Helping the workers to win a raise in pay

When an evil assassin’s bullet

Snuffed his bright young life away.

That’s why we were all so saddened that day

When the life of the Drum Major was taken away.

Who will come forward to stand in his stead?

Who’ll be the Drum Major in the Freedom parade?

My children, our Major was such a good man

Whose life was based on the divine plan.

He loved this country, its people black and white

And believed that all should be imbued with the right. 

That’s why we were all so saddened that day

When the life of the Drum Major was taken away.

We are looking for someone to stand in his stead

We now seek a new leader for the Freedom parade.

Do you know my children that he bore the brunt,

He marched unafraid right up in the front

He marched for Justice for children like you

And a bountier life for your parents too.

That’s why we honor Martin Luther King

He tried with love to make Liberty ring.

He wished everyone in our tortured country

To live together in peace and harmony.

That’s why we were all so saddened that day

When the Drum Major’s life was taken away.

Do you know someone who can stand in his stead?

Do you know someone to lead the parade?

I hear you my children. I hear what you said.

That you children yourselves would lead his parade

That you’ll carry the banner of the Drum Major dear

And march on to full Freedom without any fear.

Our spirits are lifted, our sorrows subside.

You children shall lead us with Dr. King at your side. 

You children of Freedom will stand in his stead.

You children of Freedom will lead the parade. 

March on my children to his distant drumbeat. 

March on my children, keep alive his heartbeat.

When this Peace and Freedom is finally won

Then will Martin Luther King’s work be done. 


Drum Dream Girl —  Margarita Engle

On an island of music

in a city of drumbeats

the drum dream girl


of pounding tall conga drums

tapping small bongó drums

and boom boom booming

with long, loud sticks

on big, round, silvery

moon-bright timbales.

But everyone

on the island of music

in the city of drumbeats

believed that only boys

should play drums

so the drum dream girl

had to keep dreaming





At outdoor cafés that looked like gardens

she heard drums played by men

but when she closed her eyes

she could also hear

her own imaginary


When she walked under

wind-wavy palm trees

in a flower-bright park

she heard the whir of parrot wings

the clack of woodpecker beaks

the dancing tap

of her own footsteps

and the comforting pat

of her own


At carnivals, she listened

to the rattling beat

of towering


on stilts

and the dragon clang

of costumed drummers

wearing huge masks.

At home, her fingertips

rolled out their own

dreamy drum rhythm

on tables and chairs…

and even though everyone

kept reminding her that girls

on the island of music

have never played drums

the brave drum dream girl

dared to play

tall conga drums

small bongó drums

and big, round, silvery

moon-bright timbales.

Her hands seemed to fly

as they rippled


and pounded

all the rhythms

of her drum dreams.

Her big sisters were so excited

that they invited her to join

their new all-girl dance band

but their father said only boys

should play drums.

So the drum dream girl

had to keep dreaming

and drumming


until finally

her father offered

to find a music teacher

who could decide if her drums


to be heard.

The drum dream girl’s

teacher was amazed.

The girl knew so much

but he taught her more

and more

and more

and she practiced

and she practiced

and she practiced

until the teacher agreed

that she was ready

to play her small bongó drums

outdoors at a starlit café

that looked like a garden

where everyone who heard

her dream-bright music


and danced

and decided

that girls should always

be allowed to play


and both girls and boys

should feel free

to dream.

Day 12 of 12 Days of Christmas: Twelve drummers drumming
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