The 12 Days of Christmas

December 26, 2019

Christmas day may have come and gone, but the spirit of Christmas is alive and well. Did you know that the song, The 12 Days of Christmas is a celebration of Christ following the days of his birth, not the 12 days leading up to it?

The song is based on an old English Christmas carol. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

In each verse, "my true love" represents God and "me" is the baptized soul.

Date Song Symbol Song Meaning
First Day (December 25) A partridge in a Pear Tree

The partridge represents Jesus because it's a bird willing to sacrifice its life, if necessary, to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.

Second Day (December 26) Two Turtle Doves Old and New Testaments
Third Day (December 27)  Three French Hens Faith, Hope, and Love
Fourth Day (December 28) Four Calling Birds Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Fifth Day (December 29) Five Golden Rings First five books of the Old Testament, which describe man's fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Saviour
Sixth Day (December 30) Six Geese-a-laying Six Days of Creation
Seventh Day (December 31) Seven Swans A-swimming The Holy Spirit (Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy)
Eighth Day (January 1) Eight Maids A-milking Eight Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel. The Beatitudes are to the New Testament what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament. The Beatitudes tell us how to love God and love one another.
Ninth Day (January 2) Nine Ladies Dancing Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit -Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience (Forbearance), Goodness (Kindness), Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, (Chastity)
Tenth Day (January 3)  Ten Lords A-leaping Ten Commandments
Eleventh Day (January 4) Eleven pipers piping Eleven faithful Apostles
Twelfth Day (January 5) Twelve Drummers Drumming Twelve points of belief in The Apostles' Creed


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