Monday, December 26, 2005

The TRUE Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

So you know the words to "The 12 Days of Christmas," right? But what do you suppose all those nonsensical phrases mean? I've found a site that tells all about the symbols mentioned in that song and what each means. It also tells about the reasons why that song was invented in the first place. Of course, the explanation is about the urban legend of how the song began, so take it with a grain of salt. It is a good reflection tool, if nothing else, though.

Here, in this post, I'll share with you the symbols and their meanings, but I also encourage you to check out this site which tells about the reasons for those meanings and why those phrases were put to rhythm and rhyme.

1 Partridge in a pear tree = The One true God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch" which contain the law condemning us of our sins.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

I would appreciate commentary on these symbols and their meanings from clergy and laypeople alike. These symbols were used to remind children of their catechism lessons when the teaching and learning of these things were unlawful. At least that's what the urban legend says. If anyone has a better explanation or source as to how the song was developed and what the words meant when it was written, I would love to see that in my comments stream, too.

1 comment:

Tex said...

Yes, I heard this story about how this song was used by Catholic parents to catechize their children when practicing the faith was illegal during the English persecution. I have also heard pretty definitively that it is not a true story.

I do like calling people's attention to the fact that Christmas is not a day, but twelve days. It is not a day...it is a liturgical season.

So keep wishing people a "Merry Christmas" all the way until the feast of Epiphany. Use people's puzzled looks as an excuse to evangelize and preach the meaning of the incarnation.