11/21/2021 The 12 Days   Leave a comment

With just 33 shopping days left till Christmas, I thought I’d start the season off with a few facts about the list we are all familiar with, “The Twelve Days of Christmas’. This information was in part sourced from the Cumbrian Church newsletter.

Catholics in England during the period 1558-1839 were prohibited by law from any practice of their faith, public or otherwise. According to a popular urban myth, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written as a catechism song to help young Catholics memorize the tenets of their faith and avoid being caught with anything in writing. They found a sneaky way to put Christ back into Christmas.

  • The True Love referred to God himself, the Me to every baptized person. The Partridge in a Pear Tree is Jesus Christ the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, an expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem.
  • The Two Turtle Doves are the Old and the New Testaments.
  • The Three French Hens are Faith, Hope, and Charity, the theological virtues.
  • The Four Calling Birds are the four Gospels and/or the four Evangelists.
  • The Five Golden Rings are the first five books of the Old Testament, which gave the history of “man’s” fall from grace.
  • The Six Geese a’Laying are the six days of Creation.
  • The Seven Swans a’Swimming are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments.
  • The Eight Maids a’Milking are the eight beatitudes.
  • The Nine Ladies Dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Ten Lords a’Leaping are the Ten Commandments.
  • The Eleven Pipers Piping are the eleven faithful apostles.
  • The Twelve Drummers Drumming are the twelve points of doctrine of the Apostles Creed.

This is the result of living and worshiping in a country with little or no religious freedom. The English of the time were more than a little intolerant of just about everything and everybody. Be glad you weren’t there.


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