The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days Of Christmas

Many people think that the twelve days of Christmas come before Christmas Day and lead up to it, but that is not the case. The period leading up to Christmas is the Advent season, not the Christmas season.

In the church, as in the synagogue, the day technically begins at sunset. Therefore, Christmas begins at sundown on December 24, which we call ‘Christmas Eve.’ The Christmas Season, which begins with Christmas Eve, ends on the eve of Epiphany, which is sundown on January 5. Therefore, Christmas lasts twelve days, and the period from sundown on December 24 to sundown on January 5 is called the Twelve Days of Christmas.

By this reckoning, Epiphany begins on the twelfth night after Christmas, so Epiphany was called Twelfthnight in England.

Do you know what the Christmas Carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" means?

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, either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.

Someone during that era wrote this coded message 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. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.

The song goes "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...."

The true love mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person

1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.

2nd Day: Two turtle doves refers to the Old and New Testaments.

3rd Day: Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love, the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1Cor. 13)

4th Day: The four calling birds refers to the the four evangelists who wrote the four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke & John which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5th Day: The five golden rings represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

6th Day: The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

7th Day: Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.

8th Day: The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.

9th Day: Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

10th Day: The ten lords a-leaping represents the Ten Commandments.

11the Day: The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful apostles.

12the Day: The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles' Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that He sits at the right hand of the Father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting

So there is your history for today. This was in our church bulletin and I found it interesting and enlightening to know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.

We returned home late tonight, had a wonderful Christmas celebration with our grandson, Caden, and his parents! I'll write more tomorrow!



Kelli said...

That was very interesting!
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family!

MammyT said...

I very much enjoyed the history lesson. It was totally new to me. I have also enjoyed your lovely Christmas displays. I think it's great fun to have the separately "themed" trees.