Sunday, December 14, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

This is something I learned last year from the pastor I worked for. I was reminded of the meaning of this song by an email from a friend.

The 12 Days of Christmas

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.



Thanks, Kevin, for reminding me of the meaning of this song.

Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone

2 comments:

Shadows of the goddess designs said...

that is really interesting. I never knew there was that kind of story behind it.

Sam said...

huh. I never knew that - how enlightening!! It quite interesting how there are stories behind things that we never thought of.

The catholics in those days would be most amused to see that the protestants sing that song now!! ;-)