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Background to The 12 Days of Christmas

The famous song “12 days of Christmas” was written for Catholics in England when it was illegal to practice the Catholic Religion from the years 1558 – 1829.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me” – The first day of Christmas celebration is counted from December 26, the day after Christmas, to January 6, the traditional day for celebrating the coming of the wise men to worship Jesus.

Instead of referring to a suitor, the “true love” mentioned in the song refers to God. God is the one who gives all of these wonderful gifts to “me.”

The “me” receiving the presents is symbolic of every baptized person.

The partridge was chosen as a reminder of Christ. A mother partridge will feign injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings. She will literally give her life for her children. The pear tree is a reminder of the cross.

Two turtle doves – The Old and New Testaments. Two great gifts which each Christian receives.

Three french hens – During the 16th century, only the rich could afford these costly birds. These represent the three great gifts of faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Four calling birds – The four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which speak of Jesus.

Five gold rings – The first five books (the “Pentateuch”) of the Old Testament or the Torah. It gives the history of man’s fall from grace. These books were treated by the Jews with great reverence and considered worth more than gold (Psalm 19:10).

Six geese a-laying – Eggs are an almost universal symbol of new life. The laying geese stand for the six days of creation. God spoke the word and brought forth life.

Seven swans a-swimming – The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8) – the seven sacraments.

Eight maids a-milking – the eight Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-10) nourish us milk does.

Nine ladies dancing – The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Ten lords a-leaping – Lords were men who had authority in people’s lives. The lords are The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

Eleven pipers piping – The eleven apostles that remained faithful to Jesus and people joyfully followed their message.

Twelve drummers drumming – The twelve vital beliefs that set us apart as Christians found in the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
The third day He rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
He shall return to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And life everlasting.

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Background to The 12 Days of Christmas

The famous song “12 days of Christmas” was written for Catholics in England when it was illegal to practice the Catholic Religion from the years 1558 – 1829.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me” – The first day of Christmas celebration is counted from December 26, the day after Christmas, to January 6, the traditional day for celebrating the coming of the wise men to worship Jesus.

Instead of referring to a suitor, the “true love” mentioned in the song refers to God. God is the one who gives all of these wonderful gifts to “me.”

The “me” receiving the presents is symbolic of every baptized person.

The partridge was chosen as a reminder of Christ. A mother partridge will feign injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings. She will literally give her life for her children. The pear tree is a reminder of the cross.

Two turtle doves – The Old and New Testaments. Two great gifts which each Christian receives.

Three french hens – During the 16th century, only the rich could afford these costly birds. These represent the three great gifts of faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Four calling birds – The four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which speak of Jesus.

Five gold rings – The first five books (the “Pentateuch”) of the Old Testament or the Torah. It gives the history of man’s fall from grace. These books were treated by the Jews with great reverence and considered worth more than gold (Psalm 19:10).

Six geese a-laying – Eggs are an almost universal symbol of new life. The laying geese stand for the six days of creation. God spoke the word and brought forth life.

Seven swans a-swimming – The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8) – the seven sacraments.

Eight maids a-milking – the eight Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-10) nourish us milk does.

Nine ladies dancing – The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Ten lords a-leaping – Lords were men who had authority in people’s lives. The lords are The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

Eleven pipers piping – The eleven apostles that remained faithful to Jesus and people joyfully followed their message.

Twelve drummers drumming – The twelve vital beliefs that set us apart as Christians found in the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
The third day He rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
He shall return to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And life everlasting.

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