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My mom is a Catholic. So every once in a while I will pick up bits of
information about the Roman Catholic Church via a religious cable
channel that she watches, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

Well I recently found out that the Church is considering a move to
change the Feast of the Epiphany, which for ages has always been held
exactly 12 days after Christmas, to a Sunday. It's a little unclear yet
whether they will make the Epiphany a fixed Sunday (say the 3rd or the
10th of January) or whether the feast will be fixed by the calendar
itself (say the second Sunday after Christmas, which this year would
be the 10th). I don't know which of these two possibilities they will
enact yet, but my guess is that if they follow anything like the Easter
example (the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring
Equinox) that they will do the later.

Now assuming that is the case, and assuming that the Church would
not want anything less than the current 12 days to allow for regular
liturgical feast days, then that would mean that there could be as
few as 12 days or as many as 17 days between Christmas and the
Epiphany.

Now of course we all know the old beloved Christmas song "The
Twelve Days of Christmas."

12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

That song only works in the case that the Epiphany is 12 days after
Christmas. But if the celebration of the Epiphany is changed as the
Church is thinking about doing then that would mean the number of
lines could vary from the current 12 all the way up to 17. So it would
be necessary to in certain cases add more lines to the song.

Hmmm. I've been thinking, and here are a few suggestions to fill in the
gaps:

17 Horses Prancing
16 Woodchucks Chucking
15 Lions Lounging
14 Dachshunds Dashing
13 Seals a Diving
Etc. as traditional

I was briefly considering using lines that would reflect the contemporary
world, sort of layering them over the old lines like archaeological strata.
Maybe something like "16 Cell Phones Ringing." But that doesn't sound very
much like Christmas, even though I'm sure a lot of them will be ringing over
Christmas. In any case after thinking it over I decided to keep the mostly
depressing present world out of it as much as possible and stick to nice
animals.

Everyone would have their own suggestions which would probably differ
from mine. Which is another thing that would make this change difficult:
Actually getting everybody to agree on something.

I really don't think that new lines to the song would be created. Most
likely people would just keep singing the same song with 12 lines in
the round. But the change would mean that the underpinning of the song
would become loosened. It would be divorced from its original historical
context.

All of which, of course, reminds me of two basic principles that I always
like to keep in mind: 1) Calendars are human constructs that are only
approximately connected to reality; and 2) If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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