With Christmas just round the corner….
The Origin of The Twelve Days of Christmas
There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me.
What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and
Especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to
do with 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 that the children could
One true love refers to God
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stood for Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
The four calling birds were the Four Gospels and/or the Four
Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, first Five Books of
The Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s
Fall from grace.
The six geese a-laying stood for the the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the Seven colors of the rainbow with its promise, seven days of the week, seven years to a 7 year jubilee, seven tones to the major harmonic scale, seven clean animals that went aboard the ark, two unclean, and in Revelations seven churches, 7 candlesticks, 7 stars, 7 lamps, 7 seals 7 Spirits, 7 bowls, 7 vials, 7 horns, 7 eyes, 7 angels, 7 trumpets, 7 thunders, 7 heads, 7 crowns, 7 plagues, 7 kings, and 7 mountains. And The seven sacraments: 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 apostles.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolised the twelve points of doctrine
In the Apostle’s Creed.
So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me
And I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that
Strange song became a Christmas Carol…