Most Americans are familiar with the Christmas song “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”. Down through recent years, this Christmas song, even in its original state, seems like nonsense put to music to liven up the Christmas holiday. However, it was written with a very serious purpose in mind.
“The Twelve Days Of Christmas” is actually more than a list of silly, illogical gifts. The exact date of this song is uncertain as is the composer. It is believed to have been written between 1558 and 1575 by Roman Catholics at a time when it was illegal to practice the faith in England or in any of its overseas colonies. During the period from 1558 to 1829, it was illegal to be a Roman Catholic anywhere in the territories held by England until 1829 when Roman Catholics were given their freedom to practice their faith.
“The Twelve Days Of Christmas” (from December 25th through January 6th) was originally written not as a Christmas song but as one of the catechism songs to help young Roman Catholic children learn basic information about their faith during the period of persecution. In short, it was designed to be a memory aid. Since the song appeared as though it was rhymic nonsense, young Roman Catholic children were able to sing the song freely without fear of having their parents jailed. Non-Roman Catholic adults and children were reported to have sung this song unaware that it was a religious song transmitting Roman Catholic information. Eventually the song because an ecumenical song accepted by every denomination in England by roughly 1602.
As previously stated, the song’s gifts possessed hidden meanings to
teachings of the Roman Catholic faith. The “true love” mentioned in the song does not refer to a young man or woman but to Jesus Christ. The “me” who receives the gifts refers to every baptized Roman Catholic who makes up the Church.
The “partridge” represents Jesus Christ. The “pear tree” represents the cross that Christ died on. In this instance, Jesus Christ represents God the Father’s gift to humankind through his saving death and resurrection.
The two turtledoves represent Sacred Scripture---The Old and New Testament—another gift from God “The Father”. In fact, it was at this time that, Roman Catholics and later all Christians represent the Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove as a sign of peace and the spirit of the Holy Spirit.
The three French hens represent faith, hope and love. These are the three most precious gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in Saint Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians: 13).
The four calling birds represent the four Gospels that sing out the songs of Jesus’ love for humankind and challenge us to listen. These were Jesus Christ’s living gifts to humankind.
The five golden rings represent the first five books of the Bible as referred to as the “Pentateuch” which contains Gods creative work, His love for sinful humankind, His promise of a Savior, Laws for good living, and God’s Covenant with humankind.
The six geese a laying represents the six days of God’s creation and laying His foundation of His love for humankind.
The seven swans a swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit as found in Saint Paul first letter to the Corinthians 12: 8-11. The seven gifts are:
knowledge of languages
The eight maids a milking represents the eight beatitudes as found in
Gospel of Matthew 5: 3-12:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
7. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
8. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.
The nine ladies dancing represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit as
found in Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians 5: 22-23:
The ten lords a leaping represents the Ten Commandants of God given
by God to humankind on Mount Sinai.
The eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful apostles who gave humankind the Word of God after the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven.
The twelve drummers drumming represent the points of statements of the Apostle’s Creed:
1. Belief in the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
2. Born of a virgin
3. Suffered under Pontius Pilate
4. Crucified and died
5. Rose from the dead
6. Ascended into heaven
7. Sits at the right hand of the Father
8. Jesus will judge the living and the dead
9. Believe the teachings of the church
10. Forgiveness of sin
11. Resurrection of the body
12. Life everlasting
Just in case, you were not aware of it. Roman Catholics celebrate 12 days of Christmas to ask God to Bless them 12 months of the year. That is, each day represents each month of the year! Most Christians limit their Christmas celebrations to 12 hours or after dawn. Some of the Protestant or Reformist sects of Christianity did so to change the Roman Catholic domination of Christmas as well as to inject some aspect of Christmas into this most beautiful and sacred of holidays of the year. For you see, the word “Christmas” comes from two Latin words "Christus Missus" which means “Christ sent” or “Christ among us” and did not have anything to do with His birthday at first. It is now known that Christ was born in the spring around (March or April) 6 B.C., 5 B.C, or 4 B.C. The key element that signals this belief is that shepherds bring their sheep to the low grassy areas in the spring. This is also the time when lambs are born---to include the “Lamb of God