Twelve Days of Christmas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
The explanation for Christmas carol, "Twelve Days of Christmas"

Submitted: December 19, 2007

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Submitted: December 19, 2007

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Another year has passed so rapidly. I hope this article finds all of you in good health and that you are looking forward to Christmas and the New Year. This article is about the Twelve Days of Christmas and an explanation for it. This is my article for all of you this year. Enjoy.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping frogs, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

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 the members of their church. Each element in the carol had code words for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit:
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So here is your history lesson for today. This knowledge was shared with me by my aunt Jane, and that I found it interesting and enlightening. Now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol ... so please pass it on if you choose too. This is my gift to all of you who read this. Have a blessed Christmas and New Year.

Jim Heitmeyer


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