Have you ever wondered if there is anything behind the song "The Twelve Days" of Christmas ? It's more than a popular Yuletide ditty-- far from it. We all know that Christmas means December 25 but very few remember that Christmas is a whole season of rememberance of the birth of Jesus and a series of events which folllowed it which ends on January 6 -- or the day of the Epiphany.
Now follows a "secret" that I shall share with you.
There was a time , during the years 1558-1829 when Roman Catholics in Great Britain were prohibited from practicing their religion. It was during this repressive period in English history when someone decided to pen the "Twelve Days of Christmas" as something like a "secret code" that could be sang in public without having to face religious persecution. Though secular the lyrics of the song seems to be, rich symbolisms of faith are in "code" which then could only be comprehended by Catholics.
Like all codes, the song must appear to be "harmless". The secret : each element in the lyrics of this Christmas Carol is a CODE word that conveys their shared religious commitment.
Thus --- here is the meaning of their "secret code" wrapped within the lyrics of that song:
1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
2.The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testament.
3. Three French hens meant the three greatest good intagibles : "faith", "hope" and "love".
4. The four calling birds meant the Four Gospels. (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
5. The five golden rings allude to the Torah, which is the Old Testament because it is the Old testament that prophets who first declared that the Messiah will come. And He did!
6.The six geese a-laying represents the 6 days of the Creation before God rested.
7. The seven swans a-swimming meant the "sevefold gifts" of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids-a-milking was a code referring to the eight beatitudes.
9. The nine ladies dancing alluded to the nine Gifts of the Spirit as told to us in Galatians 5:10.
10. The ten lords-a-leaping symbolizes the Ten Commandments.
11. The eleven pipers piping is a code to bring into rememberance the role of the eleven faithful apostles who made sure that the Good News is preached and who likewise produced more disciples.
12. The twelve drummers drumming meant the twelve main points of belief in the Apostle's Creed which is shared by most Christians.
Now that the Christmas season is HERE and you hear that song at the mall, shopping center or the radio, take special notice of the uppity lyrics and make your soul listen to it too. After all, Christmas is the season to listen with the heart and soul. It is sharing and giving more than partying or drinking. It is a season to remember John 3:16 --- that God so LOVED the world that he GAVE His only begotten Son. Loving and Giving -- that is the true spirit of this season.