Seven Swans a-Swimming
Swans appear so graceful and magnificent that it is easy to see why the ancients linked them to immortatily, even believing that some gods descended from swans. Old Celtic and British myths mention how loved ones are turned into swans. Since King Edward of England in 1304 took his vows of knighthood over two white swans decorated with gold nets and crowns, swans have been associated with royalty. They still appear in royal emblems.
The Act of Swans, passed by Parliament in 1482, limited ownership of swans to landowners, provided they marked the swans to show ownership and kept them on their lands. If a swan went off the owner's land, the owner had a year and a day to find it and bring it back to his property. Under the act, all swans in open and common waters belong to the crown. The law provided that, on the River Thames, the Company of Vintners and the Company of the Dyers could own swans on the open waters of that river provided that the swans belonging to the Dyers were marked with a single nick on the bill and those of the Vintners marked with two nicks on the bill. Unmarked swans are the property of the crown. While the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act protects all swans and makes it illegal to kill them, the Queen still technically owns all the swans in Great Britain, except for those in the Orkney Islands where the swans belong to the people.
Swan meat is supposed to be quite tasty and from ancient times to the nineteenth century, roast swan was on the menu for the king's Christmas dinners and other royal banquets. Since the nineteenth century, the turkey has replaced the swan as the bird of choice for fall and winter holiday feasts.
With its close connection to royalty and royal holiday feasting, the choice of seven swans as a gift for this high born lady from her lover is appropriate.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Thanks to Brownielocks.com and Hubpages.com from which I gleaned much of the information I have shared for the last seven days. Additional thanks to the great photographers out there whose pictures I borrowed from Google Image Search.