… eight maids a milking.
The maids, of course, refer to the women who would milk the cows to obtain the milk in the first place. In times past milking of cows or goats was typically a job for women. However, the term maid is also the shortened form of maiden which is a young, unmarried, woman. By combining the images of maiden and milk (which can also bring to mind a woman's breasts), it is easy to get the idea that this particular gift has more to do with sex and romance than with cows.
The term eight maids a-milking evokes images of the food, especially the special holiday foods, to be enjoyed at this festive time of year as well as the possibilities for romance, both licit and illicit. While the people of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were not as prudish as the nineteenth century Victorians, there was still pressure, especially for women, to maintain a somewhat chaste image in public. Young upper class (both merchant class and nobility) women were usually chaperoned when in public and when being courted by young men. However, during the Twelfth Night celebrations not only were many of the rules of behavior relaxed but the environment in which the parties were held provided opportunities to escape the watchful eyes of the public. In the midst of a large group of people, many of them strangers, who were busy drinking, dancing and having a good time, it was easy to slip away from one's chaperon or spouse. Masked and costumed balls increased the opportunities for secret liaisons as well as providing additional means of denying your actions the next day. With candles and torches the sole source of lighting, it was often difficult to identify people across the room let alone in the numerous rooms and darkened alcoves found in the castles and large manor houses where the parties were held. The opportunities offered for some passionate time alone with a lover or a quick one night stand with a stranger were a major attraction of these parties.
Well, isn't that an eye opener!? Gotta love those innuendos. They are everywhere. Oppps. And our kids sing this song in Christmas pageants.
I really can't think of an appropriate questions to post here…(blushing)
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