“This is a difficult choice, but I’ve picked ‘The King’ because it’s the loveliest of the songs accompanying the many visiting customs (such as carol singing) of the Christmas/midwinter season.
‘Hunting the Wren’ is my favorite of these door-to-door customs. On December 26, St. Stephen’s Day (the ‘Feast of Stephen’ or ‘Boxing Day’ in England and the first of the 12 days of Christmas), the teenage children go from door to door carrying a mock wren (smallest of the birds in northern Europe) that they call ‘The King.’ They are given money and treats, and they cry, ‘Please to see the King. The wren, the wren, the king of birds, St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze.’ And they sing, ‘Joy, health, love and peace, be all here in this place, by your leave we will sing concerning our king.’
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