I went to Newcastle today for the last choir session of the year. We all brought contributions for a shared table and it turned into quite a feast, with mountains of delicious quiche, salad, sausage rolls, cheese, shortbread, cakes and biscuits. We finished off by singing the Geordie version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. One of our choir members has written these lyrics , and she’s kindly given me permission to share it here. I’ve added a glossary to help those of you who aren’t familiar with our dialect. Enjoy!
The Geordie 12 Days of Christmas
On the forst day of Christmas me truelove sent to me a geet white pigeon cree
On the second day of Christmas me truelove sent to me two ferret leads……
On the thord day of Christmas me truelove sent to me three fast whippets…..
On the forth day of Christmas me truelove sent to me four Freemen…..
On the fifth day of Christmas me truelove sent to me five songs of Sting’s…
On the sixth day of Christmas me truelove sent to me six Keelmen rowin’…
On the seventh day of Christmas me truelove sent to me seven lasses plodgin’….
On the eighth day of Christmas me truelove sent to me eight singin’hinnies….
On the ninth day of Christmas me truelove sent to me nine Northumbrian Pipers….
On the tenth day of Christmas me truelove sent to me ten lads-a-leapin’….
On the eleventh day of Christmas me truelove sent to me eleven Greggs stotties…
On the twelfth day of Christmas me truelove sent to me twelve piggies rollin’…
- Greet (or geet) – great or big.
- Pigeon cree – a pigeon loft or small outbuilding to house racing pigeons (pigeon racing is a popular local pastime)
- Ferret – a domesticated creature resembling a polecat, used for hunting rabbits or racing
- Whippet – a breed of dog resembling a small greyhound. Whippet racing is a popular local pastime
- Freemen – those holding an ancient title, which confers certain rights, such as that to graze cattle on the Town Moor.
- Sting – a local musician of some renown
- Keelmen – historically the men who transported coal from the banks of the river Tyne to ships, using flat bottomed keelboats.
- Plodgin – paddling or walking in the shallows
- Singing Hinnies – a kind of girdle scone and local delicacy
- Northumbrian pipes – an local traditional musical instrument (similar to the Scottish bagpipes, but more subtle)
- Greggs – a locally based chain of bakeries
- Stotty or stotty cake – a local variety of bread.
- Liggies – marbles – a children’s game.
After that I went into town to do a bit of shopping. The Christmas Market has expanded from the usual site by Greys Monument up along Northumberland Street, so it’s particularly crowded up there. I’m not particularly impressed to be honest. Most of the stalls are selling fast food and tat. I bet the traders on Northumberland Street aren’t too pleased either!
Fenwicks Window is a bit of a Christmas Institution, with its animated figures and elaborate sets illustrating a story – this year’s offering from the department store is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Not exactly Christmassy, but entertaining. Today I was able to stand back and take a photo. When it is first unveiled the windows are lined with people, all jostling to get a better view and pushing their children to the front.
The stalls by the Monument weren’t taking up as much room as the street is wider there.
Still mainly fast food though.
I battled through the crowds to finish my shopping and was quite glad to get home for a quiet evening in.
Do you have any local traditions in your town?