Monday, December 24, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas carol explained

 
VERBATIM

When you hear or sing the Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” have you ever wondered what in the world leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge that won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? I had read this several years ago and had forgotten I still had it so I am sharing it with you this Christmas week just in case you have never heard or read this explanation of the lyrics.

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 on the cross of Calvary.

-Two turtle doves symbolize the two books of the Holy Bible the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for the trinity, God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Ghost.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke & 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 are 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 points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
 


Chaplain Alan Farley D.D.

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