The 12 Days of Christmas: What is it All About?

Christmas is just a few days away and with everyone busy with various Christmas activities, we tend to neglect some trivial matters pertaining to the celebration itself. Sadly, some of us even forget the true essence of Christmas which is the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.

Christmas celebration wouldn't be complete without beautiful carols. Probably, most of us have been singing 12 Days of Christmas since we were little. But has it ever occurred to you to find out the meaning of the song? What partridge in a pear tree means or what is the relevance of nine ladies dancing to Christmas? Maybe some of you are are already aware of the song’s meaning but to those who aren’t, here it is.
There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

This week, I found out.

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 their church. Each element in the carol has a code word 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 & 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. 
 This was sent as an email and I’m not sure about the source. If you know the author, please leave a comment so that I can give proper credit.

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