The Twelve Days of Christmas – Ten Lords a-Leaping

Day Ten of The Twelve Days of Christmas – Ten Lords a-Leaping.

Verse 10 of the Carol says:

On the tenth day of Christmas,

My tru love sent to me,

Ten Lords a-Leaping……

There have been some interesting gifts sent by ” True Love “, but this one  seems truly strange to me !

What can we make of it ?

It is commonly believed that the Lords-a-leaping refers to Morris Dancers. Their dancing was very popular at medieval banquets in the 16th century. The Morris dancing tradition is carried on today in the United Kingdom.  I have witnessed troupes  of Morris Dancers performing at fairs, fetes and markets in county towns in England on several occasions. Morris dancing has also spread to the USA, Canada, Australia and many other ex-Commonwealth countries.

The Morris Dance ( derived from Moorish) is a form of English folk dance usually accompained by music which had it’s origin in Spain in the 15th century. It is a well choreographed dance consisting of rhythmic stepping and prancing about in formation and forming  definite patterns during the dance

Morris Dancers are easily recognised by their distinctive dress and the “props” they use. Impliments such as sticks, swords,, handkerchiefs and bells may be weilded by the dancers. The bells are usually small “pellet”bells sewn to a pad which is worn around the leg just below the knee

Are there other answers to this question of Lords a-Leaping ?

The person who immediately came to my mind, when I heard the words “Lords a-leapng”, was Lord Lindsay, one of the athletes who starred in the famous film “Chariots of Fire”.

This was NOT his real name . He was in fact,  David George Brownlow Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter KCMG, who was also  known as Lord  Burghley. He would not allow his real name to be used, because of historical inaccuracies in the film.

Lord Burghley was born near Stamford in Lincolnshire, England on 9th February 1905. He was educated at Eton College and Magdalene College in Cambridge.

In 1927, during  his final year at Magdalene College, he amazed fellow students, by sprinting around the Great Court at Trinity College in the time it took the college clock to toll 12 o’clock. This feat was the inspiration for the scene in the film “Chariots  of Fire”, but it was attributed to Harold Abrahams in the film.

Lord Burghley, although a hurdler, was the training partner of Eric Liddel, who was a sprinter.

The thing which sticks in my mind about Lord Burghley was the scene in the film where he placed a full champagne glass on each hurdle, as a way of helping him to leap just the right height to avoid knocking the hurdle. The real story is that he placed matchboxes on hurdles and practised knocking over the matchboxes with his lead foot without touching the hurdle

Both men competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Lord Burghley was eliminated in the first round heats of the 110metres hurdles. He was also eliminated in the semi-final of the 110metres in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, but went on to win the Gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles at that Games.

At the first Commonwealth Games in 1930, Lord  Burghley won Gold medals in both the 110 and 400 metres hurdling events and also was a member of gold medal winning British 4 x 440 yards relay team.

Chariots of Fire is the story of Eric Liddel, the famous British athlete who, under sensational circumstances, won the 400 metres race at the Paris Olympic Games in 1924.

The film is well work watching or you can obtain an eBook on the life of Eric Liddel which can be read on a Kindle e-reader or I-Pad. We have found the e-reader so convenient when we are travelling.

So Lord Burghley actually was a Lord a-Leaping in real life.

Maybe you can think of other examples of Lords a-Leaping as you enjoy “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

Doctor Bill

Other Posts in the Series:

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve days of Christmas Day 1

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 2

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 3

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 4

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 5

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 6

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 7

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 8

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 9


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7 Responses to “The Twelve Days of Christmas – Ten Lords a-Leaping”


  • […] The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 10 […]

  • Comment from docbill

    Glad you enjoyed Renee.. Just posted No 13 tonight. One more to go.

  • Comment from Renee

    What a great series of posts. I wasn’t that familiar with this song (growing up in a not-english country 😉 ) but I had heard it – and always wondered about the meanings as it seemed very strange to me.

    Thank you so much for your twelve days of christmas explanations, I will listen to this song totally different from now on!

  • Comment from docbill

    Hello Jenny, Thank you for the comments. Have just published N.12 Eleven Pipers Piping.
    Have a wonderful Christmas
    Doctor Bill

  • Comment from docbill

    Hope you had a Happy Christmas on the Road,Lisa. Glad you have enjoyed the series . No 12 just published -Eleven Pipers Piping.
    Only 2 to go; will publish in the next few days
    Seasons greetigs to you and you Family

    Doctor Bill

  • Comment from Lisa Wood

    Have loved reading the 12 days of xmas 🙂

    Cheers
    Lisa

  • Comment from Jenny Locke

    Ten Lords a Leaping – How many times have I heard that and never given a second thought to the meaning. I will always now remember the Morris dancers and will definitely recognise them if ever I should see them dancing.


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