Thursday, December 14, 2006

Twelve Days of Christmas

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. Have you ever
wondered about THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS? 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?

Today, I found out. 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 turtledoves 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 &
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

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 there is your history for today. I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange
song became a Christmas Carol.

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