Friday, December 15, 2017

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, December 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, January 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.  The Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" may sound silly and contrived to many of us.  But it actually had its origins in religious symbolism--and with a serious purpose.  It dates from a time of religious persecution.  The song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," was written as a kind of secret catechism that could sing in public without fear of arrest--a learning or memory aid to Christians in fact.  The song can be taken at two levels of interpretation--the surface meaning, or the hidden meaning known only to the Christians involved.  Each element is a code word for a religious truth.

1.  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.

2.  The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.

3.  Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.

4.  The four calling birds are the four Gospels.

5.  The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.

6.  The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.

7.  The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

8.  The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.

9.  Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

10.  The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

11.  Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.

12.  Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.

The "true love" in the song refers to God himself.  The "me" receiving the gifts is every Christian.  So that "silly" song we sing at Christmas time has more meaning that one may realize.

When you sing the song, it starts out as "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...."  then it's on down the line to "the second day of Christmas all the way up to the twelveth day of Christmas."

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