According to Rankin and Bass, the official chroniclers of the life of the Little Drummer Boy, January 6th is the fateful day that the Ra Pa Pum Pum’s were unleashed upon the recently born baby Jesus. We know this because he arrived on the scene as the Magi were presenting their gifts. That event is recognized by the celebration of the Epiphany and occurs 12 days after the birth of Jesus. According to R&B, one of the Magi, after presenting his gift, told the Little Drummer Boy (Aaron, who hated people) that only the King among kings, the babe, could help save the little sheep Bah-bah, who had moments earlier been run down by a Roman chariot. Having no other gift to give, the Little Drummer Boy played his drums and if we are to believe R&B, everyone smiled and the sheep was resurrected/healed.
As a parent, I find it hard to accept the R&B reaction to the Little Drummer Boy’s drum solo. Ok, assume you have a newborn baby and everyone has been poking in on him for the last 12 days. He’s finally settling down and BLAM here comes some local orphan (yeah, his family is killed, and probably worse at the start of the tale) and he starts banging loudly on his drum. Those first couple of weeks of parenthood, especially with a newborn, who even assuming that he was very well behaved (as one would hope from the son of God), are particularly rough. No self-respecting parent would ever allow a little boy to play the drums in front of their hopefully-soon-to-be-sleeping baby. Even if by some chance, he did get to play the drums, they certainingly wouldn’t be smiling. Imagine what you would do. Yeah, I thought so.
When R&B were presented with the only surviving scroll containing this piece of history, they saw a story with potential. The early Church, however, didn’t see this particular story as good PR. The Little Drummer Boy Incident was excised from history, his story buried for ages. To this day, you will not find the Little Drummer Boy in a Church-sanctioned manger scene. Previously, the closest thing to verification of these events was a tale about the Knight’s Templar being sent to “take care of the Sect of the Boy”, but records of the actual events were eradicated when the Templars themselves met their own fateful demise.
Anyhow, desperate for a success to go follow their Rudulph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman TV specials, Rankin and Bass twisted the tale so it had a happy ending that became a Christmas classic in song and video. While the tale was turned into good PR, it sent shockwaves through the Vatican. Under pressure, R&B created a sequel to the Little Drummer Boy to further muddle the story and eventually both versions would fade from broadcast TV.
Happy Little Drummer Boy Day!