Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and a partridge in a pear tree have to do with Christmas?

Rumor has it that from 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly so someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. I checked it out at snopes.com and this account is NOT true. However, I like the symbolism so much, I’m sharing it with you anyway.

-The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stand for faith, hope and charity.

-The four calling birds represent the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. (actually, it’s not “calling” birds – the original song referred to “colly” birds which are blackbirds)

-The five golden rings represent the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament. (Note: the gold rings are not jewelry. In the original song they were referring to golden ringed neck birds – such as pheasants. This is in keeping with the “bird” theme).

-The six geese a-laying represents the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represents the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit… Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking stand for the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy,
Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping are the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Despite the fact that this is all made up stuff, I like it. It’s a way to put Christ back into Christmas and it makes a song that makes no sense make sense.

(These symbols are for the Catholic faith. You can fine tune this to suit your religion. )

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