Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the twelve days of Christmas

Have you ever wondered about the song The 12 days of Christmas? Kind of a strange song, don't you think? What in the world does leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans and especially that partridge that won't come out of a pear tree have to do with Christmas?

Well, here's the very interesting answer...

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 and 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 point of belief in the Apostles' 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. And I bet you won't think of this song in the same way the next time you hear it. Pass it on if you wish.


MightyMom said...

I remembered some of them, but not all. thanks for the reminder.

Momma Roar said...

When I first heard that, it made me appreciate that song so much more! It's beautiful - which is why I think I like that Land Of Nod set of 12 ornaments that JM and Short Stop have so much!!!

PS - My tree is artificial. I love its wispy branches - it looks more like an artificial tree on the inside, towards the trunk - but the branches on the ends are my favorite!! :)

Just Mom said...

I received an e-mail about the origins of The Twelve Days of Christmas a year ago, and must have deleted it. Thanks for posting it.

LA -- You must get a set of those ornaments; they really are beautiful.

Karen said...

This is beautiful! I'll definitely listen to the song differently from now on.

Karen said...

Wow. I did not know this. A few things triggered some sort of memory - but it hadn't clicked.
This is wonderful!
Thanks for sharing!

Amber said...

Always love this reminder!

As for the whipped shortbread, it is the easiest ever. It's my mom's recipe:

1 lbs butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Beat in mix master for 10 minutes until fluffy. I topped mine with little pieces of Maraschino cherries. Bake at 350 for 7-10 min.

Jamey said...

I had no idea that that song had two meanings. Very cool!

Maxine said...

Oh, thanks! I never knew about that. Very interesting. It sure will make hearing this song different next time.

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