I want my twelfth night back! And I don’t want an argument or anything, but it’s today/tonight. We call it the eve of the thirteenth day, and that is surely the same as twelfth night? I have no religious scruples about the date, but it is not right that Offspring have spent so many 5ths of January in school. Not all, but most. You just can’t go back to school before the 7th. Trust me.
And the Christmas decorations? I’m not finished with those yet. ‘Everybody’ else have taken theirs down. I’m allowed mine until the 13th, but the unwanted influence of the locals means I give in earlier nowadays. I’d spent several years here before being informed that after twelfth night (and would that be the 5th or the 6th, then?) it’s unlucky. Pah.
In Sweden (and I’m guessing in many other countries too) the 5th is a half holiday and the 6th of January is a red day (=Bank Holiday). And for the first 46 of my twelfth nights it was Favourite Aunt’s birthday, and it was always celebrated. Off school and off work, people would come calling. (You remember that in Sweden people come on your birthday unless expressly told to stay away?)
That brings me to the fruit plates. I always wanted some. I suspect that to cash-strapped Mother-of-witch fruit plates seemed slightly unnecessary, so we never had any. We used ordinary plates. But her friends all had them and so did FA, and on her birthday, out they would come. For the fruit and the nuts and the sweets and anything else that went on the sweet table. First you have sweet buns, cookies/biscuits, plain cake and then some gateaux with lots of cream. After a brief rest of an hour or two you then have the sweet table.
Now I myself own fruit plates, having inherited Favourite Aunt’s, but generally can’t sort out a sweet table if I ever have guests because I’ve given up trying to foist funny foreign behaviour on people. And anyway, twelfth night seems like the best date for them and it’s been taken away from me!
(This is just one. They are all different.)
But it’s a sign that I have adapted even to the worst conditions in exile, because some years I almost forget. Well, not so much on the 5th, but the 6th tends to pass me by. I remember phoning up to complain (what else?) about a magazine subscription one year. Someone did answer the phone, but when I mentioned what I was calling about he sounded deeply shocked and pointed out it was a red day. I hung up in shame. What I really should have done was ask what he thought he was doing at his desk in that case.
And FA would have been 102 today.
(Co-published with Bookwitch)