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Item No. Vørunavn Eind Mynd Prísur v/MVG
Date of issue: 31.10.1994 Value: 2 x 4,00 kr. Numbers: FO 262-63. Artist: Óli Petersen

The twelve Days of Christmas - Set of mint

The special medieval chain dance, sung without the accompaniment of instruments, is still preserved in the Faroes.

Issue Date: 10/31/1994
Item No.: PPA311094
Value: 8,00

The twelve days of Christmas - FR 262-63 - Date: 31.10.1994

The special medieval chain dance, sung without the accompaniment of instruments, is still preserved in the Faroes. Special customs and ceremonies relating to the Faroese chain dance do not vary much from one village to another. The dancing period extends from Christmas until the inception of the Fast. Outside the dancing season people may perform dances at special festive occasions, i.e. at weddings.

Dancing was, however, strictly forbidden during the Fast and it was not permitted to dance on the day before Ash Wednesday. During the last evening of the dance period children were allowed to dance alongside adults even if it was very late in the evening. After midnight a special ceremony of 'counting the days of Christmas' began, at which the men danced bareheaded.
The chain dance is still performed and the accompanying ballads are sung with great force and enthusiasm. Young and old are in great spirits for now the end to the period of dance and celebration is drawing nigh and the serious business of keeping the Fast is at hand.
On this lst evening of dancing some short rhymes are sung to accompany the dance. This is the custom of 'counting the days of Christmas', i.e. enumerating the Christmas days of which there were twenty. The most important jingle is that of St. Martin. The lead singer starts with relating the gifts of the first evening, then the second, third etc.. until he reaches the 20th. Each evening the gifts of the preceding days are counted as well. Usually there were also some smaller jingles, numbering twelve in all and mostly in Danish, among them 'Stand up St. Simon', 'Please lend an ear', 'Let's laugh for a while', and others. St. Martin was born in Hungary in 316. As a young man he once met a naked beggar. He was only wearing his military coat and he promptly divided it into two with his sword, giving the beggar the other half. When he was late declared a saint, his relics were preserved in a special church room named 'capella' a Latin term referring to St. Martin's coat of which there were many.

St. Martin became known for his many miracles and the purity of his ascetic life. It was said that he hid in a gooseshed to avoid being named a bishop. But the geese were not easily silenced - Martin was found and appointed bishop of Tours. He died there and was buried on Nov. 11th 397. Martin de Tours, as he was also called, became the first great Gallic saint. He was also held in high esteem in Northern Europe. Memories of him abound as evidenced by a special St. Martin's day in the Nordic calendar. Since he had been exposed by geese, this was a day on which they must be slaughtered. St. Martin was the patron saint of domestic animals, growth and vegetation. On St. Martin's day a goose or something from the year's harvest must be offered to him - a long-abandoned practice in Scandinavia. However, not so long ago goose-eggs were preserved in seed until they were brought to the geese for hatching. This custom may have been related tot he worship of this popular saint.


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