12 Days of Christmas

Years ago, I read an article called “Merry Christmas, The Symbols of the Season.”  It was very interesting. Don’t be afraid…I’ll paraphrase.

According to this article, there is a perfectly good reason why the song The 12 Days of Christmas doesn’t make any sense. It was actually being elusive on purpose.

It seems that in England, from 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith publicly and their religious symbols were banned. Someone in that era wrote a song to help their young children remember what they could not openly preach.  Although I, myself am not Catholic, and therefore don’t completely understand some of the terms, I think since we sing the song, and we love the song–we should also understand the song, and be respectful of it’s origin. I found it fascinating.

It breaks down like this…

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…” The “true love” referred to is God himself. The “me” is the church member who receives the gifts.

partridge1by John Coulter

1 Partridge in a Pear Tree    =   Jesus Christ-

Jesus is represented as a mother partridge because she would pretend to be injured to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them.


Artist Unknown

2 Turtle Doves    =   Old and New Testaments


3 French Hens   =   Faith, Hope and Charity

4-calling-birdsBy Sarah Tyson

4 Calling Birds = Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John


by Judith Kall

5 Golden Rings   =   The First Five Books of the Old Testament


by Karmen

6 Geese a Laying   =   The 6 days of Creation

seven-swansby Bill Ewart Jr.

7 Swans a Swimming =   The Sevenfold Gifts of the Spirit-

wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.


tt_28306_eight-maids-a-milkingby Yvonne Earber

8 Maid a Milking   =   The Eight Beatitudes

nine-ladiesby bkinternet

9 Ladies Dancing =   Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit-

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control


10-lords-a-leapingby Brooks

10 Lords a Leaping   =   The Ten Commandments

11-pipers-piping-hetreauby The Plate Lady

11 Pipers Piping   =   Eleven Faithful Apostles

12-drummersImage found here

12 Drummers Drumming =   12 Beliefs 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.

Now then…don’t you feel smart?

4 Replies to “12 Days of Christmas”

  1. Very interesting actually… It’s always seemed like such a random song… but that’s cool!!! Now if someone could only help me understand why everyone thinks that “My Favorite Things” is a Christmas song… I might just have the whole world figured out! 😉

  2. Uh-oh. I have a cookie for a Mom. I knew she was too good to be true! 😉

    No, really. I agree with Susette. This it really good. Thanks for the insight.

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