It was during the 1950s that the craze for and mass production of Christmas jewellery first began in earnest in America.  During WWII wives and sweethearts wore festive ribbons and corsages made of dried foliage, but many of these have not survived.  By the Korean War at the beginning of the 1950s jewellery designers had begun to produce seasonal brooches, the most common of the designs being the Christmas tree and there are collectors, sites and books dedicated to these brooches.

In the 1950s Mylu was founded by Marge Borofsky and Lynne Gordon and they focused almost exclusively on Christmas designs. If you do a search online you will find Christmas trees, wreathes, sleighs and all manner of other designs associated with the festive season.  In 1968 Mylu joined Coro to form its Christmas jewellery line.  Marge Borofsky and Lynne Gordon joined forces with Mike Tancer, the former president of Coro and founded Tancer & Two in 1971 based in New York.  This venture didn’t last long, Tancer & Two closed in 1979.

This brooch depicts a ‘Partridge in a Pear Tree’. I like the way the gilt partridge looks as if it is suspended within the pear which is made of clear plastic.

The origins of the Twelve Days of Christmas is not clear, but it is thought to be French and was first published in England as a song without music in 1780.

Over the years the list of gifts has changed a little but basically it has remained the same.  In other countries though the list differs, for example in Scotland in 1842 your gifts would have included an Arabian Baboon and in France in 1856 you would have received seven Windmills and eight biting Cows. In the Faroe Isles they also have a counting song which includes cheese, goats and banners.  In 1994 a stamp was produced depicting the song.

Designed by local cartoonist Óli Petersen

Twelve is a significant number is many cultures and religions.  For Christians there are twelve Apostles and heavenly gates of Jerusalem. Some people claim there are hidden religious meanings to the words, for example two Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments, Ten Lords a Leaping = the Ten Commandments.  There are twelve western signs of the zodiac and Chinese zodiac year signs. Twelve Symbolic motifs were embroidered onto the robes of Chinese emperors which included a pheasant, a mountain and two dragons, Emperor Shun (2000 BC) states in his book ‘Shu Ching’ the ornaments were symbols of the qualities required of a good king.

In the Oxford dictionary of Proverbs, it says “It is not spring until you can plant your foot upon twelve daisies”.

Roll on springtime!