07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Monday, December 26, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas, a bad dream or a real message?

Have you ever wondered what's with that crazy song The 12 Days of Christmas? I mean really, what do all the birds and the funky people have to do with Christmas anyway?

Here's the meaning behind all those bizarre lyrics:

From 1558 until about 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, and 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 in the manger.
-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.

So the next time you hear that song, remember those who were not allowed to openly worship their faith, and be grateful for those who paved the way to religious freedom in America, and many other countries, today.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and that your New Year will be filled with fun and friendship.


Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Donna,

What a fascinating post! I really enjoyed learning the origins and meaning of this Holiday song.

Now every time I hear the music, I'll give thanks for religious freedom in America.

It's so easy to take our legal rights for granted and forget that not everyone enjoys the same rights, and that ours were paid for with blood.

Diana Mcc. said...

Your post was so interesting. Yes, we are lucky to live in a society where we can worship as we want. Here's to a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Donna Hatch said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah and Diana. Happy New Year!

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Donna,

I love this post! on several levels. One, I learned something about a favorite Christmas carol; Two, I was reminded of the importance of religious freedom; Three, we are a creative species especially when something important to us is threatened.